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28 Apr 18

By Randy Pierce

“Like a Potter turns his clay, help us shape a better day” –Ray Conniff

Randy holding a small unfinished clay piece at a table with blue covering, and looking at the camera.

Randy tries his hand at a pottery workshop for the sight-impaired, held by Future In Sight.

Future in Sight has been promoting an assortment of activities intended to enrich the lives of the clients they serve. One opportunity caught my attention as something I had always wished to try. I almost let the opportunity slide past which would have been regrettable on many levels. Fortunately a second nudge exposed me to a wonderful afternoon experience and one which inspires me to plan a visit with friends for a follow up crafting session.

More than 20 sight-impaired adults arrived bristling with eager anticipation to Future In Sight to meet with our guide, Ahmad Qadri. He had provided an incredibly successful youth experience previously and his blend of history, crafting, teaching and experience soon had us transforming our egg of clay into an assortment of different cups and bowls.

It was no small chore to work with so many; his patient and encouraging manner kept us all working forward with insight into his passionate approach to pottery. We had the chance to feel the broad assortment of tools and to apply several of them to the shaping and decoration of our devices in our all too brief time together. Although we didn’t fire our craftings into a permanent keepsake, he did offer to have this done at his studio: Rainmaker Pottery.

Randy and the group in attendance work on the pottery wheel

Randy and the group in attendance work on the pottery wheel.

He did, however, provide us the fantastic opportunity to work on an actual pottery wheel. At the speed of the wheel’s turning, our clay would change so much more dramatically with the most subtle of pressures from a thumb, finger or tool. We didn’t all have time to craft on the wheel in this introductory lesson but we could place our hands upon the  bowl and feel the transformation as he described the subtle move he planned. It is so easy to shape our pottery and so easy to shape our lives a little better with the right guidance!

My takeaway involved the excellent reminder to choose involvement and participation as often as possible. As someone working to support and promote the excellent work (and needs) of Future In Sight, I had almost forgotten to appreciate the value they can provide to my life as a person who is blind, still learning and exploring opportunity in our world.

Thank you to Future in Sight, Rainmaker Pottery, and Ahmad Qadri specifically.

Hands working on a pottery wheel

Attendees of the class work on a pottery wheel together.

The original announcement from Future In Sight:

Hand building and pottery wheel workshop
Wednesday, April 4
2:00-4:00 PM
Future In Sight
25 Walker St., Concord, NH

“Participants will have the opportunity to try both methods of Hand building and a pottery wheel to explore their creative imagination through this tactile experience. Ahmad Qadri teaches at an international camp in Windsor, NH. He is also on the New Hampshire art council teaching roster. He has over 30 years of pottery experience to bring to this event.”

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22 Apr 18

By Randy Pierce

Randy and Jose run the Boston Marathon in cold, rain, and wind.The 2018 Boston Marathon featured the worst marathon weather I’ve ever experienced: cold temperatures, relentless rain, and generally unreasonable winds.

Battling hypothermia for several miles, I reached the crest of Heartbreak hill to face a cold blast of wind and an astounding deluge which was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Barely able to speak and shivering uncontrollably, Jose guided me to the medical tent for treatment and the end of our race. It was absolutely and unquestionably the right choice. Pushing perseverance any further raised the risks of serious medical consequences tremendously and an ambulance ride was the most likely result, not a heroic finish line. Making the right choice amidst the various pressures to continue is a clear success, yet failing to complete the goal is also a failure. How do I reconcile these realities?

While I can admittedly be harder on myself than is ideal, I’m always working to improve on this. I believe in sufficient accountability to understand what went awry and then as soon as possible to put all the energy into a focus forward mindset. The goal is to ensure the energy is applied to where it can have an actual positive change.

In this instance my accountability is simple: I’d trained as fully as my post-injury time allowed and was reasonably ready for a normal marathon experience. As weather reports indicated concern, we adjusted our gear dramatically to allow for better warmth and water protection beyond the limits of any prior marathon or long run experience. Usually the concern is that such choices create a risk of overheating, so there is a fine line. In hindsight, I had room to purchase a new thicker and warmer outer shell of wind and water protection, although realistically predicting this need and ensuring I would not have been in danger of overheating was unreasonable.

In short, my accountability is reasonably low unless it was a matter of mental toughness. My guide, the medical team, the ambulance-riding runner next to me in the medical tent, and my own mind knows this wasn’t the issue and any push for perseverance would have been a greater type of failure. When faced with a choice of types of failure, success is making the best possible choice in those moments.

Now the trick is to convince myself this is just a setback and to begin the planning necessary to bring a greater success from it. There are two stages for me in this process.

The first is the process of facing my shortcomings with the same confident sharing that I celebrate my successful achievements. They are all part of the growth for me personally and perhaps for those who might also choose to draw some insight from the experiences.

Secondly, I use the hunger for a more full success to fuel my training on the next event of a similar style. In this case my eyes are now on the prize of the May 20 Gate City Marathon in Nashua, NH. This race will be an opportunity to put out a stronger marathon performance as well as achieve a Boston Marathon qualifier.

That will be my opportunity to work towards crossing a finish line which eluded me this year and it will be doubly sweet for the proper perseverance and resiliency required to achieve it.

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14 Apr 18

By Randy Pierce

Image of Randy on a mountain looking out into a sunset, overlaid with these words: The Ninth Annual Peak Potential Dinner and Silent Auction

Hopefully, Jose is guiding me to a fourth consecutive Boston Marathon success for April 16, 2018 even as we are announcing some exciting new twists to enhance the success you help us achieve with our Ninth Annual Peak Potential Dinner and Auction Gala.

Save the Date: November 17, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.
Proudly returning to the Courtyard by Marriott

Tickets will officially go on sale June 1 and we encourage you to begin organizing your tables early. For the first time, we are inviting you, our generous supporters, to pick your table location. All of the normal on-line sign-up will still be in place, and we’ll reach out to table purchasers in the order that the payment is received with the layout of the available tables, allowing you to select where you and your fellow supports will enjoy a great meal and event festivities.

We are also keeping our early purchase pricing in place at the same $500 for a table of 8. There is also a limited number of larger tables for those of you whose group is 10 or 12, available on a first come, first served basis.  So start your table coordination now  and be among the first tables booked to use our new location selection feature!

We have begun preparation and planning for sponsorships, auction items and many event specific planning, so we invite you to visit our updated website:

Ninth Annual Peak Potential Dinner and Auction Gala

As always, we understand how fortunate we have been for the incredible support of our community. We continue to work hard to ensure our mission and effort are always worthy of your support. This year we believe we’ll be delivering a few additional surprises to take this event and our appreciation of you to the highest peak yet.

We hope to see you in November. Please help us to spread the word!

Autumn in her harness with her collapsible bowl.

Autumn hopes you’ll join us!

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7 Apr 18

By Randy Pierce

“Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother’s secret hope outlives them all.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” -Maya Angelou

Picture of a young woman with a guitar sitting on a stone wall.

Georgette Lillian Roy 1929-2017 – a young picture of my mom with her guitar.

My mother did not keep her hope or love for me secret as Oliver Holmes suggests, but its enduring power always encourages and motivates me. She was the force of nature Maya Angelou suggests, and I might rightly be described as the diffused form of her willpower and determination. She did much in her guidance and likely genetics to inspire my approach to my life and it has led to so many of the most rewarding results for me. In my first three Boston Marathons — from the first very successful 2015, to the medically compromised endurance event of 2016 and even the plans going awry challenges of 2017 — Mom was proud and spent the day hoping for any/every update.

In this, my first Boston Marathon since her death, I will be dedicating my every effort to my mom. There won’t be a phone call before or after for encouragement or celebration, but every mile will still be graced with her love and support. I will touch my hand to my heart and lift my arm in celebration throughout to honor her and draw strength from all the gifts of love, courage and determination she gave to me.

  • Bib #: 23600
  • Wave 3, Corral 8
  • Approximate start time: 11:14 a.m.
  • Estimated pace: 8:45 minutes/mile

Jose Acevedo will once again be my guide. We’ve shared so many experiences together it will be right to have him for this (hopefully!) healthy Boston Marathon together. We’ve won a National Marathon Championship together in 2014 (pictured at left), endured through Boston 2016 despite knowing the neurology challenges would be excessive, and most recently we made a bid at running California for the National Marathon Championship despite knowing my dislocated ankle was going to make it unlikely.

Randy and Jose running at the California International Marathon in 2014.

Randy and Jose running at the California International Marathon in 2014.

This time we hope for just savoring the celebration of a Boston Experience healthy, happy, and prepared. As with any such event, all the planning and preparation is vital but the teamwork, friendship and ultimately execution on Marathon Monday is what will define the day.

There is such a community aspect which sets this particular experience apart. It will be on display throughout from Team with a Vision, Mass Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired celebrates 25 years of supporting VI athletes as well as a community of those who benefit from their services all year round. It has been on display from the many training miles supported by guides and friends who make running possible for someone like myself where just stepping out and running on my own isn’t a viable option.

Thank you especially to Rodney Andre for logging so many miles together, sharing his insights on life, running and the humor in every moment to keep life fun. Thank you to Greg Hallerman who continues to provide coaching and strategy despite being deprived of the joy of running for too many months himself. The Gate City Striders are the running club of Nashua and the are also my supportive, patient and encouraging friends as well who constantly find ways to help me create or meet new running goals.

Thank you to the 2020 Vision Quest team who understand the various events of my life are a part of our awareness mission but yet takes a toll on the teamwork at times. Most of all, thank you to both Tracy and Autumn who often have to put up with a little extra for my training and running goals. Autumn takes it begrudgingly as long as I supplement it with extra walks and play for her. Tracy goes out of her way to give the encouragement, support and even at times restraint when I’m over reaching for my schedule or medical best interest.

It takes a community before we ever line up and then somehow a community shows up and helps us get through the hardest of the miles along the way and celebrations at the end. It is no wonder that a marathon is often a metaphor for life. It’s an endurance event some of us can do alone but how much better an experience when we work together for all aspects so that at the end we are celebrating the wonderful human accomplishment of challenging ourselves to give our best. I will certainly strive to give my best and in doing so hopefully honor my dearly loved mother who I know always gave her best for me. In the marathon of her 88 years on this earth she stumbled and struggled at times as do we all. When she crossed the finish I know without question she holds a well earned first place in my heart.

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31 Mar 18

By Randy Pierce

“Achieve a vision beyond your sight!”

– Randy Pierce at the founding of 2020 Vision Quest in 2009

Many Guide Dogs for the Blind working teams and dogs in training, highlighting their robust community. Their logo is also visible.

I believe that you achieve vision not from sight, but from viewing the world mindfully. Our 2020 Vision Quest team strives diligently to serve our collective vision to our best ability, or as we prefer to phrase it: peak potential! One way we achieve this is through an open-minded view of all the opportunities the world presents to us. As such, we recently did a thorough exploration of new opportunities and found to our overwhelming appreciation an obvious and worthy one to share: We are excited to announce a new partnership with Guide Dogs for the Blind. 

Guide Dogs for the Blind is more than an industry-leading guide dog school; they are a passionate community that serves the visually impaired. With exceptional client services and a robust network of trainers, puppy raisers, donors, and volunteers, they prepare highly qualified guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are blind or have low vision.

We were impressed to learn Guide Dogs for the Blind produces roughly twice as many working teams each year than other US schools. They also have an enviable financial efficiency, with an average cost per team that lower than most if not all other schools, making them an excellent value for our donation. All their services are provided free of charge and they receive no government funding. GDB is headquartered in San Rafael, California, with a second campus in Boring, Oregon. Since their founding in 1942, they have graduated more than 14,000 guide teams; today there are approximately 2,200 active teams in the field across North America. For more information, please visit guidedogs.com.

We will continue to equally split our charitable donations between two outstanding vision assistance organizations — Future In Sight and Guide Dogs for the Blind — with full confidence that we are conscientiously serving our mission.

With this announcement, we will have a cross-country partnership with a team eager to work with us on our shared vision. This is also a reunion with the school from which I received my very first Guide Dog, Ostend — but don’t worry, Autumn and I are doing fine. She is healthy, happy, and working very well with me. I expect that she and I will continue our successful work together for many years ahead.

We are excited for our new partnership and the increased impact that our support will achieve. We think you will find many reasons to appreciate their work and find them deserving of our support. Please join me in celebrating the inclusion of Guide Dogs for the Blind in the mission of 2020 Vision Quest!

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25 Mar 18

Group shot at the LA Tough Mudder

Randy poses with his team at the Tough Mudder.

By Randy Pierce

“Give your all, and whenever possible give it with the support of a team you deserve and which deserves you. The rewards will likely be how your life is defined. See obstacles or opportunity, stumbling blocks or stepping stones, but believe you can achieve and you’ll have a vision more powerful than sight!”
– Randy Pierce following the March 28, 2015 L.A. Tough Mudder

We are all going to face our share of obstacles on the path. Will it turn us back, unable or unwilling to achieve for the challenge presented? Will we try, fail, and try again until we reach the goal? Will planning, problem solving, or the helpful guidance of another enable us to learn, grow, or better ourselves enough to overcome the obstacle?

The choice in approach is vastly up to each of us and we’ll experience the result of the choice as powerfully as the obstacle. I’ve always felt there’s a partial frustration in having met an obstacle and a similar frustration in the effort involved to overcome it. Since I’m facing some of the frustration either way, I’ll choose the version which most often results in the eventual jubilant feeling of success. In the process I tend to find an earnest dedication to the problem solving and perseverance often distracts me from the disappointing aspects of the challenge and invigorates me as well.

One of my most epic physical obstacles was out in California for the “King of the Swingers” obstacle featured around the 1:45-minute mark of this short video clip from Oberto’s “Hero of Summer” series. I encourage you to take a moment to remind yourself of a team oriented and determined approach to obstacles.

As we lined up below the platform with my team watching others attempt this incredible leap and swing, I was absolutely intimidated. I understood the difficulty and the large chance for failure. I knew there would be video cameras capturing every aspect of my attempt and reaction to it. I wasn’t aware beforehand that they would stop the other swings so that the entire Mudder Nation surrounding the challenge would be focused upon my attempt. This was an additionally daunting aspect of the obstacle.

I knew those things, understood them, accepted them, and let them go in favor of what I consider a more powerful consideration. By choosing to try, I was already growing and becoming stronger. I learn as much from failures as success if not more. We made a plan to help me orient on the T-bar trapeze. A teammate suggested the brilliant idea to grab the vertical bar instead of the smaller, easily missed, horizontal piece. I’m told my leg launch was a strong enough surge I almost sat on the T-bar. I managed this because I committed fully to the idea of the attempt and that is a strength for me most of the time. A partial commit would have made the first catch and grab of the trapeze weak and more likely to fail. Make the commitment and give it your all to succeed.

Oberto’s motto was: “You get out what you put in.” I find that true of so many things in life and especially our attempt to manage obstacles. If we decide to take the challenge, then give it our best effort and we’ll likely experience our best growth. As for the final release and ringing of the bell, how much of that involved my long arms and a fair bit of luck I’ll never know. I do think we make a fair bit of our own luck by the choices we make. I would not have rung the bell if I had backed away from the challenge and my life would have been missing a ringing success.

That said, I always want to honor the team who made such an incredible experience possible. Thank you Greg, Jose, Loren and Skye! It was an incredible experience and while we can’t ever  quite reproduce the magic of the day, it’s not hard to recall the experience and most especially our incredible teamwork! There’s a line from a stranger in the video and I hear it and love it every time: “Keep moving forward.” And so we shall!

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17 Mar 18

Randy walks a tight rope alongside a mountain.By Randy Pierce

“Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this.”
– Stephen Hawking

In honor and celebration of the incredible life achievements of Stephen Hawking, I chose the above quote to lead this week’s discussion. Communication is a double-edged sword for certain. Like so many tools, it is in the manner of use by which its effect for positive or destructive influence is most commonly achieved.

I prefer to advocate for healthy communication with an equal intent for open minded listening and sharing. To that end, I heard an inordinate amount of praise for his work stated in the rough form of  “he was incredible despite his disability.” I suspect the intent there for most was to denote that without question his disability provided additional challenges which he also seemed to manage with seeming grace, dignity, and success.

The praise I mentioned did not suggest he was a brilliant mind for someone in a wheelchair, which would have a much stronger negative resonance, but it does have a hint of that suggestion, which is why I adjusted the semantics to showcase it. Stephen Hawking was a brilliant person with an incredible legacy. His resolve and perseverance through adversity were similarly admirable and commendable. They are separate statements.

I share this because I often hear two diametrically opposed reactions to various accomplishments in my own life. The first is the often well intentioned but rather limiting expression of: “great achievement for a blind person.” This suggests that as a blind person, I should perhaps be judged by some lesser standard. If the accomplishment is noteworthy and deserving of the commendation, it is received far better without the qualifier.

I obviously understand my blindness does enhance the challenge of many things and there is at times a desire to express that as part of the statement which I’ve heard done effectively many times. It’s a matter of the approach to the words and expression which, to be fair, are likely unique to each situation. I simply suggest that thoughtful choice is valuable in these times.

The second counterpoint is a similarly well intentioned incredulity at the most simple of accomplishments. Frequently, because of a challenge, there may be a desire to set extremely low expectations. As I shared at a recent presentation at LL Bean, after hearing of my hiking experience, marathon running and Tough Mudder undertakings, it is difficult to hear someone express appreciation and awe that I am able to tie my own shoes!

As someone who strives to reach for my peak potential and to encourage similar in others, I want to set expectations higher and reach for them without the mindset of settling as a consideration. Whether by lack of exposure or education to what is a reasonable possibility, those who make such hyperbole of the most modest achievement can leave me feeling insulted even knowing it was likely not their intent. I want to ease my frustration and enhance the communication to address such things through this blog and my direct interaction at the time.

With that spirit in mind I also want to suggest this attitude for all of us facing any challenge and do so with another final quote from the mind who inspired today’s discussion:

“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.”
- Stephen Hawkins

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12 Mar 18

By Randy Pierce

The first picture of Autumn, Randy's Guide Dog partner, who arrived in Nashua on March 16, 2014.

Here is the first picture of Autumn, Randy’s Guide Dog partner, who arrived in Nashua on March 16, 2014. Happy Anniversary!

It is so easy to celebrate every single day with such a joyous, loving lady as Autumn! She is far and away the most affectionate pup I’ve had the fortune to have in my life and I’m told it is to my benefit that I cannot see the “look” with which she would otherwise put me at her bidding!

March 16 will denote four years of our being matched as a team, which includes not only the wonderful relationship as a great dog but also some pretty solid guide work.

Most dogs love the opportunity to step out for a walk and Autumn is no exception. What makes her and all of our Guide Dogs particularly exceptional, however, is that for them each walk is a true labor of love as well. All the wonderful distractions of the world are mitigated by her training to ensure she tends the responsibilities of keeping me safe.

Thus when a winter Nor’easter named after her predecessor, Quinn, has deposited more than a foot of snow on our roads, things get a little more interesting. As such, I thought this week I would take you on a short half mile audio/video walking tour of Autumn’s work with me. I hope you enjoy as much as I certainly enjoy having this wonderful girl in my life.

Thank you, Autumn, and Happy 4th anniversary!

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3 Mar 18

By Randy Pierce

Randy and Alex, the team captain, in the Walk for Sight in June 2017

Randy and Alex, the 2017 team captain, in the Walk for Sight in June 2017. Look out for Tracy as the team captain for 2018!

“The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.”
-  Thich Nhat Hanh

On Saturday, June 2, 2018, I will celebrate walking at the 15th Annual Walk for Sight at 25 Walker Street, Concord, NH which is the home of Future In Sight. I will celebrate the thousands of lives uplifted by their life-changing training, services, and support — including my own!

What I hope to celebrate even more is the many people who will gather to walk the 3-kilometer route or otherwise support our ability to ensure thousands more in need will have the same opportunity. We can raise awareness, funds, and community connections by joining together to enjoy the late morning and early afternoon.

Will you join our team?

We have had so many commitments and activities for ourselves and our many friends that it has been more challenging to sustain our commitment to this wonderful event for the incredible 15 years. Yet the need persists and the organization’s commitment to improve it each year while elevating the incredible work they achieve has enhanced their worthiness for our efforts.

The 2020 Vision Quest team at Walk for Sight 2017!

The 2020 Vision Quest team at Walk for Sight 2017!

So Autumn and I implore you to consider joining our team and using the new website to help reach out for donations to support the 2020 Vision Quest effort as well as Future In Sight. We will be splitting our fundraising in a 50/50 program, assuming we meet our minimum fundraising requirements of $1,000 as a team. We have managed this each year since the program began and I can tell you that Autumn and I have made that amount our personal goal. If you cannot join our team — which is our absolute first preference — then please consider making a donation to our effort.

Donate to Randy and Autumn’s Walk Page!

The earlier you make the choice to join the team, the easier it will be to hopefully help raise a few sponsorships for your walking or general donations of support. So please consider one of my personal quotations: procrastinate procrastination! Join us today and we’ll keep you informed of all the ways we hope to keep the event and our team growing together towards our goals!

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25 Feb 18

By Randy Pierce

Autumn reclines in her bed.

Autumn reclines in her bed.

Do you ever have those days where it’s difficult to get out of bed? After my presentations I’m often asked questions that suggest that mine are all as perfect as they seem for my morning-loving Autumn dog! Once I confirm I have as many difficult days as the next person, I’m often asked how I approach those times.

The answer? Momentum! Or more specifically, I build positive momentum as quickly as possible. I share in only half jest the morning complaint: “Come on! Blind again today?” On those mornings I immediately put something different and positive to entice me forward. Maybe it’s a particularly good cup of coffee which wasn’t in the plans. Perhaps a phone call to a good friend to brighten the start of the day or sometimes just an easy accomplishment from my list of goals. The idea is that once I get something positive happening, I feel a bit better and from that improved position it’s easier to put another couple of those immediately into the plans to bolster the progress. It is simply what momentum means.

One source of positivity is to find an inspirational quote or story to help me as I start the day’s tasks. Not too long ago my friend Greg Hallerman shared this powerful video with me and again very recently I found it on LinkedIn when Casey Cheshire shared it. It’s the similar notion of starting your day by making your bed and using that ultimately as the catalyst to change the world. While that seems a bit of a stretch, the messages are powerful and worthy. Better still the delivery by Admiral William McRaven is tremendous and thus I urge all of you to perhaps change your world by taking a few moments to appreciate his powerful message!

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