Archives - November, 2014



29 Nov 14

By Randy Pierce

A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands in January 2007. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands in January 2007. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

We are going to Sacramento, California to run the California International Marathon on December 7. For Tracy Pierce, this will be her first marathon and for me a chance at completing my second. This opportunity comes about primarily because of Richard Hunter and the USABA (United States Association of Blind Athletes) as detailed in a blog earlier this fall.

We will have the chance to be surrounded by a community of incredibly inspirational athletes, many of whom happen to also be blind. While undertaking an incredible opportunity in our own right we realized the escape from snowy New England to a vacation retreat would afford us many wonderful treasures. While the marathon is the primary goal for both of us and my chance to atone for a failure at mile 23.5 of the Bay State Marathon in October, I’m particularly proud to be running with my good friend and fellow 2020 Vision Quest Board Member Jose Acevedo as my guide.

Tracy and friends just finishing the New England half marathon. Photo courtesy of Tracy Pierce.

Tracy and friends just finishing the New England half marathon. Photo courtesy of Tracy Pierce.

So starting at 7:00 am Pacific Standard Time you can follow along our progress via the California International Marathon website or via various social media connections for 2020 Vision Quest.

Once the race is behind us, the vacation begins. Reuniting with friends (Jose, Kristen, Chris and Kat) to watch our beloved Patriots play the night game in San Diego will start that journey, though we won’t be attending live as California is simply too large a state for that part of the trip to be possible. Wobbly legs will slowly recover with a winery tour in Napa courtesy of our friend Amy Dixon, the Blind Sommelier.

We’ll catch the migration of the Bull Seals at Point Reyes and a couple of days in San Francisco for Alcatraz, eat Godiva’s Chocolate Earthquake Ice Cream Challenge in honor of my running coach Greg Hallerman, and take in other delights of the city. Later we’ll make the journey to Sequoia National Forest where the largest living tree in the world, General Sherman, will highlight a tour of some parks and majestic trees.

We are finding the balance of not overloading our schedule with plans to blend rest and relaxation with this incredible opportunity to visit a rare part of our world. Making the most of opportunities is such a gift to ourselves. Be grateful I didn’t write this blog to the tune of the “Beverly Hillbillies” as my mind first wandered. For my part, I’ll be grateful to the opportunities presented by delving into the experiences of life with a supporting wife and caring community. California, Here we come! – please have no snow!

Randy and Christine running in the snow.

Randy and Christine running in the snow. Photo courtesy of Tracy Pierce.

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24 Nov 14

By Kim Kett Johnson

On Saturday night my husband Todd and I were fortunate enough to attend our 5th Peak Potential dinner and auction put on by 2020 Vision Quest and our friend Randy Pierce. We have attended all of the Peak Potential dinners over the past five years. Let’s face it, when you have three small children, having an annual event where you get to go out as a couple, dress up a little, and see many friends, all while supporting a fantastic cause is something we look forward to every year. I’d like to highlight a couple of the things I love most about the event.

Group photo of Randy and his fraternity brothers reuniting for a fun evening out.

Randy and his fraternity brothers reunite each year at Peak Potential for a fun social evening.

The social part: Randy Pierce and I have been friends since 1986. I see Randy and speak to Randy outside of the Peak Potential event, but every year at Peak Potential I reconnect with many other people who are mutual friends to Randy and me.

Many of these friends of ours are Randy’s fraternity brothers. Last night there were 18 brothers there so assuming each had a +1 that is 36 seats at the dinner that were there because of the brotherhood they share with Randy and with each other. A lot of people do not understand the bond and camaraderie of being in a fraternity or sorority but 30 years later the outpouring of support Randy’s fraternity brothers give him is fantastic to watch. This is definitely one of my favorite parts of the night. I was lucky enough last night to see a couple of my sorority sisters and my great friend and first roommate. We were all brought together by this wonderful event.

Kim gets into the spirit of the event by making a bid on silent auction items.

Kim gets into the spirit of the event by making a bid on silent auction items.

The philanthropic part: 2020 Vision Quest and Randy Pierce’s vision has grown to where he has introduced his message of true vision and believing in yourself despite adversity, to 34,000 students since the organization was started. How many of us can say we have touched the lives of tens of thousands of students over a few years? He is not stopping there. Randy spends his days traveling to any school that will have him in many states. All the efforts of Randy and 2020 Vision Quest benefit the organizations “Guiding Eyes for the Blind” and “The NH Association for the Blind”. Both of these organizations helped Randy in his darkest days when his vision of what his life would be like was much different than it is now. 2020 Vision Quest is the definition of “Paying It Forward.”

Everyone at Peak Potential pays for the dinner, bids on silent auction items, buys raffle tickets, bid on live auction items and some playfully bid against each other on bigger ticket items. It is a real tribute to Randy and what he and the 2020 Vision Quest organization has built as to how many people come out every year. Whether you have attended a Peak Potential before or are reading this and thinking about attending next year, I will see you there!

 Puppy dressed up with cuffs and bowtie

The next generation of Guide Dogs wants to know: Will we see you next year?

All photos courtesy of Kevin and Heather Green Photography.

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15 Nov 14

By Randy Pierce

Randy poses, on his wedding day, with his dad Bud and his brother Rick.

Randy poses, on his wedding day, with his dad Bud and his brother Rick.

We are all time travelers in our steady forward journey, but time does not always seem as consistent through the years and key moments of our lives. It was two years ago on November 17, 2012 when my morning began with the early phone call which told me my Dad’s smile wouldn’t be shared with us again. He had stayed so very good at smiling despite an incredibly difficult final few years of his life which saw open heart surgery, strokes and the loss of loved ones.

I have grieved in many ways and on many days since that time and I’ve also learned to celebrate some of the moments we shared. I wish life had more campfire moments with treasured friends to share stories in full glory rather than just a snippet or two online, but for now here are just a couple recollections I hold in my head and heart.

• To my frequent embarrassment then, my dad was the loudest cheering fan in the gym for every one of my games he attended. Now I just realize how much he wanted me to know he was proud and loved me – funny how perspective changes in a moment from one of dismay to one of joy.

• One winter evening in 1980, we were on snow-machines together in the wilds of Colebrook, NH. As an unexpected snowstorm began to arrive, he suggested and led the way for us to ride up to the top of Dixville Peak together. At the summit, the thick rime ice clusters prismatically sprayed the headlights into some wondrous colors. It was beautiful but just a foreshadowing — for when we shut off the machines to just enjoy the peace and serenity, the real treat arrived. We were at the most northern end of the storm and the skies opened up clear to the north despite the lightly falling snow upon us. The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) were the most resplendent I’d ever seen in my life and were captured in the air, in the snowflakes, and in the hearts of a father and son sharing one of life’s rare moments. Green and pink dominate my recollection and we just stood silently sharing the moment.

• Amidst his challenging later days, his memory would frustrate him more often than he could stand. One morning he called me having been frustrated at being able to recall the Mighty Quinn’s name. I picked up the phone to hear his frustration as he said: “Randy, what’s Quinn’s name?!” — yes moments of humor are part of the recollection.

• Let’s finish with a touching tale. Dad was in a coma-like state after a fairly massive stroke. I’d heard all the official medical reports and knew about the amount of cranial bleeding. We didn’t know if he’d ever come out of it. It was my third day with him and his arm was on the edge of the hospital bed and I was resting my hand on his forearm. Quinn, nuzzled into my Dad’s hand a couple of times and I felt the forearm go tight and he moved it down to Quinn’s head and gave a clear two strokes onto Quinn’s head. Suddenly he sat up as if realizing the way to the outside world again. It was a long time before he could speak and understand again, but when weeks had passed and we could talk a bit better, I asked him about his first memory. He told me Quinn had come to him and he wanted to tell Quinn what a good boy he was for taking care of me. Effectively, he came back to thank Quinn for guiding his son so safely and well through so much.

My dad had many wonderful qualities and, like all of us, some challenging ones. I grew to love and appreciate him more through the years. There are hard memories and wonderful memories both. Through all of them I always know he loved me and strove to do anything he thought would help me be better prepared for all of what life had to offer. I love him, miss him, and most of all celebrate how fortunate I was to share and keep so many good memories and moments with my dad.

Rest in Peace, Bud–you too were loved.

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8 Nov 14

By Randy Pierce

Moosilauke - Flags on 48

Randy and friends fly an American flag atop Mt. Moosilauke in honor of those who died in service, both civil and military.

My vision of Veterans Day is from my youth with fog encroaching on a chill morning over a memorial in my hometown of Colebrook, NH. The haunting echo of the bugle is barely finished when the 21-gun salute rips through the echo and startles my somber reflection. My parents and community had instilled in me a sacred duty to honor the service gifted by all our veterans to our country. Veterans Day was one of the special holidays.

Is it still special? Certainly some make efforts to appreciate the choices and all too often sacrifices of our veterans. It does seem less emphasized to me today though, and I wonder if it’s the advent of so many “special” days, from “Unwrapped Twizzler Day” (yes, I hope I only made that up) to a culture that seemingly has lost some intensity of focus on any particular holiday or other day of note. Perhaps the ugliness of war and the reality of instant news coverage of any and every atrocity or failing has desensitized us and increased apathy?

For me, all of this is entirely my subjective observation. I sadly believe it as firmly as I believe there are many very worthy causes deserving of our limited attention and it is our personal responsibility to cut through the dilution of emotion and give focus to as many as we can reasonably manage.

Blindness is a cause to which I dedicate much time and energy. Cancer has impacted my life in so many painful ways it must get my full focus and all too often fury. These are reasonable and worthy points and I’m proud of the means by which I support them both. For all the people who do and have served our country, from my father to the many friends and family across all branches of service, I am humbled and appreciative. For some it may have been just a job or means to an education, and for some a career, but for all an agreement to serve. The reality of such service in hostile and abhorrent circumstances I likely may never fully fathom.

I’ll be grateful all year for the very significant freedom their choices provide. On Veterans Day this year and every year, I hope I will join many in recalling the people who are the veterans so worthy of our dedication on their day. Thank you veterans and to all those who join in honoring them with me.

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1 Nov 14

By Randy Pierce

Fairway Mortgage with their auction item: an inspirational picture of Quinn.

Fairway Mortgage at Peak Potential 2013 posing with their newly purchased auction item: an inspirational picture of Quinn.

November 22 we will host our Fifth Annual Peak Potential Event and with so little time left much of the preparation is done. However, there’s always time for one more sponsor, donor, or attendee to help bring the event to just a little higher pinnacle of success! Will it be you? Your company? Your friend or other close connection?

I know it will be me and the hardworking volunteers who put this event together. I truly hope you might all consider how you too might help us continue the great work we continue to achieve in this our fifth year!

Why am I particularly excited about this year’s event? Well, each event we’ve had just a bit more success and last year we were astounded by how high you helped us set the bar. I love a good challenge and while I’ve fallen down (literally!) a time or two in the process, I will always continue to get up and find a way to strive forward when I’m as confident as I am about the value and need for our work. We are still on the verge of our third consecutive sell-out and we have ensured more space for all the tables and less background noise to allow us all to really come together as a community.

That’s so much of what our work is about I wanted to take you on a tour of our past events and invite you to become part of this year’s success going forward! So drop me an email and join this year’s effort now or simply visit our event website.

Thank you and I hope to hear from you real soon – the time is now!

Read about some of our previous Peak Potential events:

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