Archives - March, 2016



27 Mar 16

By Randy Pierce

“You get out what you put in!” – Oberto Beef Jerky slogan

Caught in the frustration and setback of my health challenges is hard. Even knowing this is the one-year anniversary of the Tough Mudder Los Angeles made famous by the Oberto Heroes of Summer video, it’s still easy for me to struggle amidst the present obstacles.

This past week was particularly challenging as more of the “deep brain seizures” took place along with some other neurological deteriorations which may in part be due to a significant cold which returned in force and became bronchitis and pneumonia. I’m particularly susceptible to these due to a neurological problem with my throat which impacts my ability to keep my airway clear. The week was spent largely being sick and attending medical tests, treatments, or appointments. There was one exception and it’s the heart of this post.

On Thursday, March 23, I attended the South Derry Elementary school and spoke to roughly 250 students from grades K-5. My invitation was initially a braille letter from a blind 5th grader. Our message is designed for everyone of all abilities and all ages. I adjust the approach and some of the concepts for desired points of emphasis to the target audience though the core resonates for most who share the presentation with us. Despite this I feel a slightly deeper connection when sight impairment is involved.

This single visit was the sum total of my week’s work and due to schedule adjustments it fell just short of a number goal I was hoping to share with all of you. With this visit we have presented to roughly 49,950 students just in schools. I had hoped to celebrate the announcement of 50,000 students and while we are short of that goal for the present moment, I cannot help being simply proud of how many young lives we have impacted so positively.

In that pride and appreciation is also the reminder of how much it helped my own spirits to feel I was contributing to the world in a meaningful way. Certainly I do know this but knowing isn’t always enough. In our most challenging moments, what we feel is more powerful than what we know. I needed the rest and recovery time tremendously this week and yet for me the best recovery derives from the feelings that visit gave to me.

I look forward to our future announcement of reaching more students and significant benchmarks. Most of all I look forward to working forward through the obstacles, surging past the setbacks, and getting my medical challenges sufficiently under control that my vision for where we are going remains as positive and clear of focus as the 2020 Vision Quest deserves. In the meanwhile a special thank-you to the team of volunteers who have kept things going and allowing me to step back for the short term goal. I hope to share some of their accomplishments on that end with next week’s blog but if you visit our homepage you’ll see some of the signs of that work!

Group shot at the LA Tough Mudder

On the one-year anniversary of this Tough Mudder, Randy still gets by with a little help from his friends.

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19 Mar 16

By Randy Pierce

Randy and Jose running and determined

Jose and Randy run the California International Marathon in December 2014.

April 18, which is the 120th running of the Boston Marathon, is rapidly approaching! This is my second time and I’ve learned enough from the first to reach out and ask you for your help and support in any of several possible ways. I believe so much in TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) and would love to add you to the team in all or some of the below ways. Whether you can join in or not, I’d appreciate your consideration to share this post and help us connect with more support for the opportunities ahead.

1) There are times along the course where just a little encouragement or friendly voice may help. Despite the thousands upon thousands along the route, I’m building an audio file which I can play when I need to hear the encouragement of a friendly voice along the way. If you email me a short audio file (less than 30 seconds please) which starts with “Hi Randy this is (You) and I just wanted to say…”, I’ll put them into one larger file and play them for that extra motivation. Please have all of these to me no later than April 10 so we can finish the file and have it ready for Marathon Monday!

2) If you aren’t running the Boston Marathon–or even if you are!–maybe you can join us for the NHAB 3K Walk for Sight on June 4! We have a team and would love to have you be part of our team as a walker or donor. It’s a very reasonably priced event with a chance to spend some quality time while helping support both 2020 Vision Quest and New Hampshire Association for the Blind. I’d always rather you walk with us, but if you can’t, perhaps you’d consider donating to one of the walkers on our team? While I don’t seek donations directly for Boston, I welcome the notion of a donation through this walk/fund raiser!

Join or donate to our team or me directly via our team page. This is our second largest fundraiser for 2020 Vision Quest and a family friendly event complete with a puppy kissing booth, barbecue lunch and so much more.

3) Finally whether you send me a supportive audio file, join or donate for the NHAB Walk or not, you can help us by sharing the 2020 Vision Quest charity with friends and family. We are always trying to increase our outreach of our website, our social media, and mission. Please consider taking the time to share us with those who will help us build a stronger community of support for the valuable work we undertake and for the positive influence we hope we can have in their lives as well.I’d love to see our Facebook community reach the 5,000 benchmark this year, I’d love to see our walk team reach the 100 walkers who shared in 2012, but mostly I want to see the work we undertake continue to make a difference in the lives of the students to whom we present and the blind services we support at NHAB and Guiding Eyes!

Now back to training for Boston and advancing the 2020 vision!

Randy and Christine cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon 2015.

Randy and Christine cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon 2015.

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12 Mar 16

Randy, Tracy, and Autumn sitting on a mountain

Some mountaintop silliness from the family!

By Randy Pierce

“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”

- Yoko Ono

I’m so enthused to share this anniversary with Autumn! Our second year together arrives with still more of the transformative power of time working with us to strengthen the bond and teamwork we share. Each of the seasons bring so many nostalgic reflections and the numbers of them behind me can weigh upon me like the Golden Anniversary of my own life rapidly approaching.

Randy and Autumn framed in silhouette against the Boston skyline.

Randy and Autumn framed in silhouette against the Boston skyline.

My time with Autumn is two years old and only two years old. She heralds an arrival of spring youthful innocence still and I want and appreciate that much in my life. She has enough Autumn seasoning that our years have brought us to the new heights for which I’ve scratched out some mark in this world in the mountain ranges far, wide and particularly tall this year. Everything which Autumn brought to my life in our first year is still so powerfully true as March 16 heralds our second year. She is the bounding, joyful presence who delivers love and affection as her primary focus each day.

I celebrate all of that first year as powerfully today as I did then and as such I urge you to share that reminder by looking back at my First Anniversary well wish to her: together. 

What this second year has brought is a maturing of our work. There’s still some of the petulant, independent and distractable girl who makes me shake my  head and smile. There is, however, far more of the attentive, mature and Guiding dedicated partner who works so well with me to give me freedom to travel anywhere with comfort and confidence.

Autumn takes a moment from her luau to say hello! She is wearing a lei and and a grass skirt.

Autumn takes a moment from her luau to say hello!

We are in our golden years together caught between the spring of her arrival and the autumn of her name, enjoying a summer of living, loving, experiencing, and celebrating our season of time to share with each other.

She is no old soul lost to maturity but the playful pup who takes her work seriously and understands my strengths and shortfalls well enough to help me work even as I’ve come to understand how to encourage her through her own. When the harness falls she is simply the dog guide I want and need first and the joyous distraction uplifting my life with but a moment’s allowance.

Thank you my beautiful girl for all the aspects you bring into my world. I hope I continue to foster your love of life and work with that perfect blend which has made us such a fine team. Now let us show the world just what a wonderful series of adventures lies ahead for us! At the risk of alienating all my Beatles fan friends, you have earned the reverence of Autumn and given me the exuberance of our summer together! Happy Second Anniversary!

Randy and Autumn hug at the top of a summit.

A summit hug!

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5 Mar 16

By Randy Pierce

Randy sits in a hospital bed with a bandage wrapped around his head and an IV.

Randy’s EEG make-over gives him that Rastafarian hospital blend we probably shouldn’t have shared!

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
- Buddha

I’m home from my six-day stay at the Massachusetts General Hospital and feeling well despite an assortment of apprehensions. While I did provide some social media updates, I wanted to share the real struggle and ultimate result with the 2020 Vision Quest Community. I will try to answer any and all questions and wish to ensure you all know that overall I am well at this point.

I have a long term undiagnosed neurological disorder which may be a mitochondrial disease or something entirely unknown to the present medical community. My first awareness of this condition began in 1989 when I was plunged into legal blindness through the death of my optic nerves. Over many years there have been an assortment of episodes which brought the total death of my optic nerves and complete blindness as a result, a vestibular assault which had me in a wheelchair for nearly two years and what is now termed severe peripheral neuropathy in my feet and hands. These challenge me in various ways, though I’ve overall found compensation methods which allow me to continue a healthy and meaningful life.

On Sunday, February 20, I was running along the Charles river with Rob Webber when I paused, felt an awkward fading of my consciousness, dropped to a knee and with a warning to Rob proceeded to lose consciousness. I was out for roughly one minute before waking to assure him there was no pain. My pulse was steady and strong and my breathing easy. I did black out again for another minute or so and as I came to it was touching to realize how many people in the area were eager to help in an abundance of ways. As we were just about 1 mile from Mass General Hospital, it was an easy choice to visit them.

I had several more episodes of reduced consciousness. I underwent a battery of tests which first confirmed my cardiac health was excellent as that would be a leading concern in any consciousness loss. I was admitted for what would ultimately be six days of intensive testing. Geneticists (due to my past explorations), neurologists, and many other specialists swarmed me with every reasonable test to help them try and understand what was happening. Ultimately they formed a team of incredible experts who will begin a longer term search into my mysterious condition.

For the present they determined a deep brain seizure was likely causing these episodes. I’ve been placed upon Keppra, a seizure suppressant, and have had only one episode since the medication began. For the present we are treating me with the precautions of someone newly diagnosed with epilepsy such that I make choices which do not put me at risk of serious harm should another episode occur.

Despite having had a 10-20 second warning before each loss of consciousness, I’ll be exceedingly careful to ensure I won’t jeopardize myself or Autumn should this occur. This means no unsafe heights, drowning risks or even busy roads alone. I am fully cleared and encouraged to resume my presentations, workouts, and even training for and running the Boston Marathon.

There is continued follow up testing and exploration already in process. I have clear instructions on what to do when episodes occur. I’m comfortable entirely with the response of the great team at Mass General. That said, it is always emotionally frustrating to be reminded of the reasonable frailty which my condition helps to place upon me.

It is a bit intimidating to be confronted with the legitimate limitations and possible complications ahead in my life. I choose to not live my life in fear and struggle to sustain a healthy outlook as much as possible. They are not all strong moments and it is reasonable for me to have a difficult time with all of this. I will continue to put my best effort into all aspects of my life, including the medical investigations.

My reward for this effort are the generally positive results of my work with 2020 Vision Quest, NHAB, Lions and life in general such as the encouraging words shared by many along the way. All any of us can do is make our best attempts at responding as we feel is appropriate and with your help I will continue to do that as I strive for new heights… just not the fall-risking versions at the present moment!

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