Archives - March, 2015



28 Mar 15

By Randy Pierce

I’ve recently been awarded several meaningful honors which inspired me to share the celebration ceremonies. It also gave me pause to reflect upon the significance of receiving honorifics.

First my alma mater, the University of New Hampshire, selected me for  the 2014 Excellence for Outstanding Service Award. The Awards Ceremony and Dinner will be held:

Friday, April 24, 2015, 5:30 p.m.
Huddleston Hall Ballroom
105 Main Street
Durham, NH

I understand tickets for the event may still be obtained. There are an incredible number of outstanding alumni and to receive this award is a credit to the work of the 2020 Vision Quest team and the success of our efforts at making a very positive impact in our world. I’m exceedingly proud and honored that UNH would also choose to acknowledge these achievements.

New Hampshire Magazine placed us in their list of significant leaders in New Hampshire with their “It List.” A photo of Quinn and me making the classic approach to the summit of Monroe was a prominent image as they suggested we belonged in this august company. The truth is the team of Quinn and me started it, but it is the work of a team and community which has enabled us to accomplish so much here in NH and well beyond.

On May 16 I will receive the 2015 District 45 Toastmaster International Communication and Leadership Award. This is yet another tremendous honor spanning several states and Canadian provinces. It suggests the success of our 2020 Vision Quest efforts to lead by example and that our presentations have drawn significant positive recognition. From an international organization emphasizing communication and leadership, this reinforces our determination to provide this core part of our mission as diversely as possible.

I’m definitely increasing in my drive to ensure our presentations are available to students, corporations, and communities. If you have heard us and want to suggest us to any of these groups, I encourage you to share our homepage and the presentations option included there. I think it’s clear the results are overwhelmingly appreciated and I only hope we have the opportunity to share the messages with more people still. Thank you for myself and for the team of 2020 vision Quest who continue to make all this possible.

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20 Mar 15

By Randy Pierce

Hopkinton Welcome Sign“Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”
– George Sheeh

Monday, April 20, 2015:
119th Annual Boston Marathon
Randy Pierce, Bib: 25485

For me, Boston’s legend is due to a pair of powerful points worthy of the iconic label. Firstly, it brings together an unrivaled community of support well beyond the throngs gathering along the entirety of the 26.2 mile route. Secondly, it draws and encourages the most inspirational meanings well beyond the running accomplishments as the motivation for so many of the runners. Spend a little time exploring any Boston Marathon and you will likely come away overwhelmed by the compassion and determination of the human spirit.

Randy and Quinn run the BAA 5k in 2013My own Boston Marathon journey began in awe of the incredible positive community aspects highlighted for me in 2013 as well as the spirit of an incredible canine, my Mighty Quinn. If you’ve never read Qualifying for Quinn, I strongly encourage you to visit my motivation and the story of how I came to qualify for Boston.

There are two ways to run the Boston Marathon:

1) Fairly rigorous time qualification
2) Run for a sanctioned charity as a fundraiser

I am fortunate in having a more lenient time requirement due to my blindness, and yet I’m running with and for a cause incredibly dear to my heart. I’m running to honor the legacy of the Mighty Quinn. He touched the lives of so many in his incredible life and our #Miles4Quinn welcomes any and all support. If you are unable to enjoy some healthy miles in his honor, perhaps you’ll consider supporting my effort with a donation to the charity to which I’ve dedicated so much of my efforts:

Click here to donate to 2020 Vision Quest in honor of Quinn and Randy’s Boston Marathon efforts!  

Whether you log #Miles4Quinn or donate to 2020 Vision Quest, you could always support us along the route and be part of an incredible experience. The more people who learn about us, the better we can reach our goals and the stronger I will be for Marathon Monday.

Do you want to experience the race course virtually with a little history and fun worked into the mix? The Boston Athletic Association has prepared an excellent video tour!

I’ve joined “Team with a Vision” which brings together an incredible community of blind athletes from all over the world. While I fund raise primarily for 2020 Vision Quest, I embrace their mission and offer my fundraising page for them as an alternative for those who so choose:

Donate to Randy’s “Team with a Vision” page

Randy and his friend and coach, GregOn Monday, April 20 at 6:00  a.m., I’ll climb onto the Gate City Striders bus with Greg Hallerman, my good friend, running coach, and most frequent run guide, as well as 10-time Boston Marathon participant. Since my qualifying for Boston, his friendship and tutelage have brought me to win the B1 (Total blindness) National Marathon Championship as well as build a foundation of knowledge and appreciation for running. He’ll be with me throughout the race, choosing to give of his own race approach to share the experience together and help make the experience all the more fantastic.

Once at the Marathon start I’ll connect with the husband and wife team of Pete and Christine Houde. They will be my guides. While I only have one active guide at any time on the course, we are still finalizing the strategy for how we will approach this race. Christine was my first run guide after Quinn’s death and we trained during a snowstorm on our first run. (Rather strong foreshadowing of the season ahead.)

Randy and Christine running in the snowBoth fellow Lions, we met through mutual friends and quickly came to appreciate the friendship. Last year Christine ran her first Boston Marathon for a charity cause and at her fundraiser we announced the plan to run together for Boston. The mental work involved in guiding for a Marathon is tremendous and as our training time has been limited by a difficult winter and their long-distance commute, we opted to add Pete to the team and share the teamwork of guides. Both completed the Chicago Marathon earlier this year and each will have a vital role in my Boston Marathon experience. Any blind runner will tell you that the sacrifice of a guide is tremendous. They must run strong enough at my pace to give me all the necessary information to keep both of us safe on a crowded course.

Pete, Christine, Randy, and TracyIf I’m being true to the full measure of that team, I have to include my wonderful wife Tracy. Whether helping to drive me to training rendezvous points, joining me at a treadmill, or the many other aspects of support, she has helped enable this goal to become reality. She has given of herself in so many ways that I will always be foremost grateful to her in this entire process. After all, it’s that feeling of community which I said was part of setting Boston apart.

So now you’ve met my primary team of Greg, Pete, Christine, and Tracy!

At roughly 11:15, we’ll join Wave 4, Corral 2 in the surge down the hill in Hopkinton, Mass. As I run, I’ll carry recollections of every encouraging word and the people providing them. I’ll have to dig deep for inspiration and motivation many times, but my team of friends and community of support has already exceeded what I ever would have imagined when this all began. Boston’s historic course will have more than enough challenge to ensure I need all of that and a great deal of personal determination as well.

When I cross the finish line, hands held triumphantly high with my guides, I’ll likely have tears of joy, exhaustion, jubilation, and just a bit more. I’ll know that my year of tribute to Quinn will be a very hard earned and very rewarding message of dedication. I’ll be part of something truly epic and proud to have connected with such an intense community experience. I’ll be grateful to so many–some from here, some I have yet to even meet. It will only be one experience on a list of many past, present and future. Like the year of work leading up to it, it will forever be a part of who I am. Experiences change our lives and this one is tremendously so.

So this year on Patriots Day, maybe you’ll come visit the course and cheer on me, my guides, or the thousands of incredible stories passing along the course. Maybe you’ll make a donation to support 2020 Vision Quest, maybe you’ll log some #Miles4Quinn, share our story or just follow on line… or perhaps create your own unique adventure. As a sign I had read to me by my guide Meredith on the Bay State Marathon course suggests: “It isn’t everyday you get to do something epic!” Be a part of this experience with us or make your own but put a little epic in your life and be happier for it.

Boston strong!

Boston Marathon 2015 logo

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14 Mar 15

Autumn looks adorable at pumpkin time.

Autumn looks adorable at pumpkin time.

By Randy Pierce

“In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?”

From “Seasons of Love” – soundtrack to Rent

How indeed do I measure the year we’ve had and the gift of Autumn in my life? As the song lyric above suggests: “How about Love?” Autumn is absolutely about joy and love to her very Black and Tan core. For us the love came quickly and yet the depth to which it has grown as our partnership continues is truly the wonder of Autumn, our animal companions in general, and particularly the Guiding Eyes program. Each day of working with her she alters the freedom, independence, comfort and safety of my ability to travel and to interact with the world. She also shares her boundless joy and enthusiasm with a blend of playfulness and affection which is the essence of my beautiful girl.

Autumn grins on a sunny dock after a successful presentation.

Autumn grins on a sunny dock after a successful presentation.

Some may recall the 10-day training journal which we kept on the blog last year. It’s still an excellent resource for how the bond and training blend together to make a Guide team:

Autumn’s 10-day training journal

We’ve been together on school visits, city routes, park walks, mountain hikes, cars, buses, trains and planes. We’ve travelled all over the state and across the country together already. She’s been in the newspapers and on TV. She literally crossed the finish of my first marathon with me (on leash with Tracy as I ran with Guide Thor). On all of our journeys together, every step beside me I experienced the freedom and independence which I find is unrivaled in the world since my eyes ceased to guide me. We’ve come to understand each other very well and the maturing of our work, still growing and learning every day, has become very effective.

Yes, we each still make a few mistakes along the way. As in all of life we both are committed to the patience and understanding and desire to improve as a team which ensures our success will continue.

Autumn showers Randy with affection.

Such a loving girl.

She has embraced her “momma” Tracy with all the fun and love to fill a home. She has welcomed our full social circle and is building all of her own special friendships and relationships with people. Most of all, though, this lovely girl has joined in partnership with me to be my Dog Guide with her own unique style which fortunately for me begins by filling my life with joy and love.

I cannot measure all the moments or methods by which she improves my life. I could fill many an evening telling tales of our adventures and achievements. On this, our one-year anniversary of being matched I think it best just to share my thankfulness to guiding Eyes and to Autumn for the marvelous gifts of this year. Happy Anniversary, Autumn, and thank you for the full measure of love you bring to my life!

“No Home is complete without the pitter patter of dog feet.” – anonymous

Autumn lies on the ground eyeing a resting butterfly.

Happy anniversary, Autumn!

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7 Mar 15

By Randy Pierce

Attendees having fun at the Peak Potential gala in 2014.

Attendees having fun at the Peak Potential gala in 2014.

Five successful years of hosting our Annual Peak Potential Charity Dinner and Auction has provided tremendous financial benefit to our very worthy charitable work. We have given more than $124,000 directly to Guiding Eyes for the Blind and the New Hampshire Association for the Blind. We have presented to more than 36,000 students in schools throughout New England and beyond and we have been repeatedly lauded for making a positive impact in the lives of so many more people.

We do this with an all-volunteer staff who are committed to seeing the work continue. Many of these incredible staff members have worked double duty in the regular work of the charity as well as for the Peak Potential event each November. For this event to continue to be successful, we need to find a few more enthusiastic and motivated people to join the effort. Peak Potential planning begins soon, so please consider joining our team! Contact me at Randy@2020visionquest.org if you are interested.

What is needed? There are several opportunities.

Our auction items are one of our biggest draws.

Our auction items are one of our biggest draws.

Event Coordinator: This detail-oriented person would coordinate the event logistics–working with the venue before the event, managing timelines, managing the flow onsite, etc. Erin Desmarais took over for Rachel Morris last year and brought many great new approaches to us. She wishes to return as an active part of the team but with a new job cannot commit to coordinating the event this year. If we don’t get someone to fulfill this role, it might be possible for me to add this to my own somewhat overloaded schedule, but only with even stronger support in the position listed next.

Event Outreach: Sponsorships and quality auction donations are the key to the fiscal success of the event. We have a strong community of attendees and excellent event evening support. Realistically, we need three people who can support an active outreach to corporations, businesses. and appropriate individuals to sustain and hopefully expand our sponsors and auction. I know there are special individuals out there who could excel at this outreach–and it truly is essential to have this support in order to continue this event.

We want YOU on our Peak Potential staff! Will you help?

We want YOU on our Peak Potential staff! Will you help?

There are certainly other opportunities and I’m eager to talk with anyone who is hopeful to join or support our charity work. So if the above entices you because you believe in our cause, want the possible resume enhancements, or simply want to be part of a fun team, drop me an email. If you have other ideas for how to help, then similarly reach out to me. I appreciate how many have helped us accomplish so much already and look forward to the people with whom we might reach higher still. We would love to continue the Peak Potential Event, the biggest fundraiser for the 2020Vision Quest charity, and I hope to have your help!

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