Archives - June, 2014

28 Jun 14

Hampton Beach Sunrise

It began as we  celebrated my Mom’s 85th Birthday and discussed some  untypical things she might like to experience. When she mentioned a trip to the ocean Tracy was quick to suggest that June 22, 2014 would be a fine morning to experience a sunrise at Hampton Beach here in New Hampshire. Mom hadn’t seen the beach in 14 years while Autumn perhaps had never experienced it. No matter that this would be the earliest sunrise of the year, we packed into the car and drove east before 4 am.

Even the car ride was powerful as Mom and Tracy took turns describing the dark outline of trees and horizon even as the sky began to lighten and cast an other worldly feeling to the ride. These simple sunrise moments happen every day yet all too often we are sleeping through them or necessarily tending a morning’s pace which doesn’t allow us to bring the beauty into focus.

Reaching the beach we were treated to the artistry of the prior day’s annual Sand Castle competition. I’m told it’s difficult to believe these creations are entirely sand as they are so finely detailed, using variations of color and texture to create their elaborate patterns. Certainly some were more captivating than others but they all created an additional wonder into a morning dedicated to the magic of experience.

A Whimsical woman's head made from sand

Soon it was time to appreciate the full rising of the sun and 50 degrees and breezy made that appreciation a little more chilly than ideal. Still the sky’s vibrant colors continually morphed as the light horizon clouds captures the sun well before it reached our horizon. Vivid pinks, oranges and reds were strewn across the sky brighter and brighter in anticipation of the moment the sun’s first direct rays would reach us. Buildings on a promontory point decorated the view across the small bay and then suddenly everything was bright and seemingly in an instant the full sun was in the sky and climbing it’s way upwards.The sudden nature of that transition stuck with me this morning. Change is so often sudden.

All of this might be enough for a typical blog post but one more experience was in the works. With Autumn in harness we strolled properly past the “No Dogs Allowed” sign and made our way to the sand and the surf. For me there’s such a powerful blend of senses. The cool breeze on my face, the salty sea smell in my nose, the shifting sand beneath my feet and the beautifully soothing sound of the tide’s endless progress back and forth upon the land. As gulls gave their occasional cry Autumn was captivated and took a few suggestions to change her angle away from the birds and towards Tracy, Mom and the water. Suddenly her entire being was captivated by the mystery she was facing. She wanted to walk steadily towards the water and as each subsequent wave surged further forward she would hastily retreat. It was a dance I shared with her as she strolled forward and then leaped backwards again and again. Giving her the freedom to explore and appreciating her wonder as well as the sound of my Mom’s laughter ringing out in response.

The moment was magical and I thought again upon the notion: “Pursuit of Happiness” which somewhere along the way had been taught to me perhaps a bit wiser: “Pursuit *as* Happiness.” It’s the journey and not the destination. It wasn’t the beach, the castles, the sunrise or the ocean which made this day so spectacularly poignant in my mind. It was each of them in their measure as the experience was met and appreciated. It was in the reactions of my family from the youngest, Autumn, through Tracy and to my Mom. Each had aspects which resonated for them and often were shared to bring me into their experience. It was always, however, the individual moments in a string of our own chosen moments. I guess that’s it for me, life is a string of our own chosen moments whenever we are willing and able to just make those choices.


21 Jun 14

By Brent Bell

Randy and Brent ride tandem.

Randy and Brent ride tandem.

Randy and I are planning on riding a double century (over 200 miles) Friday, June 27th, 2014.

The “century” or 100-mile bike ride, is the cycling equivalent of the marathon. It’s a ride many serious cyclists have on their bicycling bucket list. When you go beyond the marathon in running, you find a small group of ultra endurance runs of 50 or even 100 miles. In the cycling world when you go beyond the century, you have the Randonneurs: cyclists who will ride distances from 100k up to 1200k in a specific time limit.

Randy and I are working our way into this long distance cycling culture by trying out a few of the New England Randonneur events (100k & 200k), but for our 300k we are going to complete a ride special in my life. We are riding from Nashua to Lebanon on early Friday morning on the 27th (2am start) and hoping to return to Randy’s home around 7pm. The time limit for a Randonneur 300k is 20 hours.

This ride is special to me because in the 1970s I completed a Lebanon to Litchfield (Nashua border town) to Lebanon ride. I thought of this ride as a way to see a good friend who spent her weekends in Litchfield, but the ride became a “Brent against the world” event. No one thought I could ride such a distance.

Randy and Brent with the Randonneurs.

Randy and Brent with the Randonneurs.

The ride had a tremendous positive effect on realizing my potential. As I entered high school a shy and nervous boy, I often drew upon my knowledge of how I succeeded on the ride as a boost in my confidence. I credit the ride with all my success in geometry my freshman year, as I learned to be tenacious from a long bicycle ride.  The ride helped to propel me forward when times were tough.

Now that I am turning 50, I have been thinking about repeating this ride, wanting to visit the person who suffered his way home from Litchfield 37 years ago. I am happy to have my dear friend Randy to help me.

Why share this  with 2020 Vision Quest? The core message of 2020 is about human potential. Potential is realized by moving through challenges. Randy shares a positive and inspirational message, but I know he wants everyone to experience the human potential inside of each of us. As my mom so wisely challenged me, can you find the inspiration to walk across the reality between where you find yourself today and where you dream of being tomorrow (just to clarify, we will be biking through the reality).

Randy and I spoke a lot about biking on a tandem as we have spent time together over the years. We have been dreaming of longer and longer bike rides, and this is a test to help us see our potential.

On June 27th, think of us. We will be laughing, smiling, suffering, enduring, and living a full life.  I hope we learn about human potential, which could be a lesson in failure, patience, or success. All I am sure about is we will not want to sit on a bike seat for a long time. Wish us well and consider following along as we share updates through the 2020 vision Quest Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets during our epic quest.

Our route on June 27.

Our route on June 27.


14 Jun 14

By Randy Pierce and Erin DesMarais

Randy with Quinn at Peak Potential 2013

Randy and the Mighty Quinn at Peak Potential 2013.

Randy here. I’d like to announce our Fifth Annual Peak Potential Dinner and Auction!

Save the Date: November 22, 2014

Or better still, purchase your ticket or table now.

This event has developed into an incredible experience and our signature event. It is our single largest fundraiser which enables us to undertake the incredible work we do as an organization. I believe we’ve made several decisions to improve the event and now we need all of you to continue your incredible support which has made Peak Potential and 2020 Vision Quest so successful.

Rather than me telling you all of the ways this event may be even better, let me introduce you to Erin DesMarais, a good friend and the new volunteer coordinator determined to continue and even advance the great work started by Rachel Morris, creator of Peak Potential. Erin no doubt will want to share some of the big news for our event!

We had a sold-out crowd last year!

We had a sold-out crowd last year!

Hi everyone! This is Erin, and I am honored that Randy and the 2020 Vision Quest team allowed me to take on the task of driving the planning efforts for Peak Potential this year. I have known Randy for almost a decade, and I have always been inspired by his positive attitude and refusal to let something as insignificant as lack of sight get in his way. To me, Peak Potential is a celebration of the pioneering spirit that Randy encourages in every single person he meets. I hope you will consider joining us this November to be part of this celebration.

Beautiful art at Peak Potential 2013 silent auction

Beautiful art at Peak Potential 2013 silent auction.

The Peak Potential team has already begun to collect auction items that are the central feature of this event. Last year we had spirited live and silent auctions at the event, which we plan to continue as it generated some fantastic activity. We look forward to posting all the amazing items donated by local individuals and businesses on Facebook for you all to preview before the event. As always, if you or a connection of yours might be interested in donating to our auction, we would love to hear from you! Email Sarah at

Tribute picture of Quinn

Our tribute picture of Quinn was one of our most popular auction items in 2013.

We hope to sell out dinner tickets once again this year, as well as bring in new partner sponsors, and host a fantastic party for you all. After listening to your feedback in the post-event surveys, we’ve decided to forego the live music this year in favor of providing more opportunities and more space for social interaction. We also look forward to generating even more funding for our charities: the NH Association for the Blind and Guiding Eyes for the Blind. These organizations do so much for the vision-impaired community in the northeast, and without them Randy’s life may have been very different. In honor of Randy, the 2020 Vision Quest team, and everyone who has supported Peak Potential through the years, I am going to put my all towards making this year’s event a success.

Welcome, Awesome Autumn!

Welcome, Awesome Autumn!

As Randy mentioned, tickets are now on sale here. This brand new event website has all the event details and will showcase our partner sponsors and auction items as we get closer to November 22nd. Tables of 8 are just $500 until September 1 – get some friends together and make a night of it!

Bonus: this will be the Peak Potential debut of Autumn, Randy’s newest guide and my close, personal friend! OK, we’ve only spent one afternoon together, so “close, personal friend” might be an exaggeration, but I think she’s awesome.

I hope you will join us! You are welcome to contact me at with any questions or comments.



7 Jun 14

By Randy Pierce

Goalball players

The Swedish goalball team at the 2004 Athens Paralympic games. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

I was approached earlier this year by a group of blind athletes from Southern Maine who participate in a sport called “Goalball,” a sport designed specifically for blind athletes. I’d met several members of the Southern Maine Goalball Association (SMGA) at the New England Visually Impaired Ski Festival (NEVI). They told me how saddened they were at the loss of Quinn and what a positive inspiration he had been to them through his dedication and perseverance. He showed them a little belief and much hard work can bring any peak within reach. They inquired if I’d be comfortable with their holding a Goalball event in his honor and of course I was far more than accepting; I was inspired, moved, and appreciative.

The Mighty Quinn Memorial Goalball Challenge
Tuesday, June 10th 5 PM to 7 PM
South Portland Community Center Gymnasium
21 Nelson Road
South Portland, ME (Free parking in lot at front of facility)

The Maine Mystix vs. the Maine Squids

Admission: Free though donations for the SMGA welcomed and encouraged

“This game is in memory of the mighty Quinn who reminds us that we can climb any peak we want if we keep trying.”– Randy Blanchard, SGMA 

Organizing a blind team has many challenges and frustrations, yet this group is learning to persevere and develop skills necessary to ensure their ability to continue to pursue their goal (literally!) Here is an opportunity to watch a fun competition and honor the Mighty Quinn and his lessons, while perhaps demonstrating support such people and organizations deserve.

I’m hopeful to attend and see some of you there as Autumn and I root on the players! I’m most hopeful everyone involved continue to celebrate the positive message and impact of one remarkable dog. Quinn was himself a fierce competitor and I know how very fitting a tribute this will be!


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