Quinn



25 Apr 15

By Randy Pierce

Randy and Pete have a strong start to the Boston Marathon.

Randy and Pete have a strong start to the Boston Marathon.

The 2015 Boston Marathon was a week ago and a lifetime ago by the feel of it for me at this point. While I’m still basking in an exuberant glow from the race itself as well as the thousands of congratulations, I wasn’t certain our community would want to hear more. There is, however, a potent enough message for me that I thought it worth sharing here.

But before I share it, I want to yet again commend the incredible work by my Guides who make it possible for me to undertake such an epic experience. Peter and Christine Houde split the course as my official Guides with Greg Hallerman assisting throughout as has been discussed in my pre-race posts. I did not give fair estimate to the enormous work of managing so many fellow racers on a difficult course and with fairly challenging weather conditions throughout. My friends and Guides were simply stellar and we were, I think, an incredible team.

As most know, one other Guide was my motivation for this race. I ran Boston to honor the Mighty Quinn for his years of loving loyalty in guiding me to walking, hiking, running and each day of our too short lives together.

With the training behind me and my intent clear, I lined up in Hopkinton for the start of the race. The rain picked up and a chill wind made me eager for the heat of the run to come. We started moving with me tight behind Pete and my legs eager to find a stride. For the first 2-3 miles that stride was in check tight behind Pete as we simply were in a wall of people moving fairly swiftly down the hills into Ashland. Greg’s voice projected to help us ease a space to move through and ensure other runners understood a little space was safer for us.

Randy and Christine powering through the second half of the Marathon.

Randy and Christine powering through the second half of the Marathon.

It was a constant effort to keep our pace a little slower as the energy was incredible. Thousands of spectators stood along the route despite the far less than ideal conditions, and continued to encourage all the runners. Finally in Ashland I was able to emerge and run beside Pete with Greg weaving back and forth to support us in pacing and spacing. With my arms marked with “Quinn” and my shirt in his honor as well, many shouts for Quinn buoyed my spirits along the way. Each time I heard a “Randy” it told me it was someone who knew me rather than reading my shirt… and there were oh so many of those times all along the route because of the incredible friends I have in my life. The mental burden on my Guides and Pete as primary was intense and before the 12-mile mark we reached the transition point for Christine to join the race and Pete to depart as the rules dictate. I was sad for his loss but strong in my focus–we never even paused for the transition as they switched in mid run with practiced ease.

Christine was strong and eager as we shot through Wellesley and into the infamous Newton Hills. Even effort suggests a slight slowing of pace for the uphills and slight increase on the downhills and our overall pace stayed strong as four successive up and downs brought us close to the crest of Heartbreak Hill at mile 21. Many runners suggest a marathon begins at mile 20. It’s where the hardest effort begins, but in Boston that starts with Heartbreak Hill and often drives the point home.

Randy, Greg, and Christine conquer Heartbreak Hill.

Randy, Greg, and Christine conquer Heartbreak Hill.

We had a pack of friends together and I was buoyed by the group effort. I knew that if I reached the summit of Heartbreak Hill still strong that my marathon had just 5 mostly downhill miles remaining. Still, I knew those would be the miles that break many runners. As I crested the hill, my purpose was surging within me and I gave two significant efforts. I tossed my head back and shouted to the skies “You did not break my heart!” because the hill had not broken my will nor my heart. Quinn’s death had wounded my heart but his gift of love and loyalty had made it strong enough to survive. My own gift of love and loyalty had helped me heal and my purpose was a demonstation for me and somehow to him that this was so.

With 21 miles of the Marathon having stripped away so much of the decoration which surrounds our essential being, I was finding in myself the raw and real passion of my purpose to honor him. I threw my head back once more and shouted “I love you, Quinn Boy!” with all of the fervor and strength I had. The potency of that shout was cathartic and I was energized in a way I’d have never thought possible deep into such an epic race.

Randy, Greg, and Christine after a successful finish!

Randy, Greg, and Christine after a successful finish!

I knew then without doubt I would finish the race as strong as I’d run already. There was no thought of quitting or slowing, but instead a calm steady confident determination that I would stride out the rest and he would be with me as he was in the moment of shout. I didn’t waver the rest of the route; there were hard miles left for certain but I realized then with crystal clarity that the power of a purpose can ignite a fervent drive.

My Marathon has so many moments worthy of sharing but the message for me was this: Find a purpose in your life, find a purpose to drive your small and your grand goals. If that purpose is truly your inspired choice, you very well may find as I did that it can take you to incredible heights. I crossed the finish line in 3 hours, 50 minutes, and 37 seconds. I crossed with so much support from so many places but I crossed strong enough to run further and faster if needed. I had more to give, not just in that moment, but in the many moments ahead because I know how to infuse purpose into my goals.

Quinn, my beloved boy, will not be the only purpose in my future endeavours. He’ll always be a beloved part of my life and may at many points be an inspiration. The purpose in each goal will vary, but I always know that finding the right reason, the right motivation for me and for that next moment is how I can fuel myself to be strong, to be Boston Strong on this year’s race… to be Quinn Strong as my boy was so many times… as any of us can be… with purpose.

Quinn on Mt. Flume. We love you, boy!

We love you, Quinn Boy!

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16 Apr 15

By Randy Pierce

As always, I welcome all forms of support including donations to 2020 Vision Quest Donate

Often my blogs receive careful consideration on both my intent and content. They receive polish from friend and volunteer Beth Foote before you ever get to read them. I’m frequently candid and yet a distance between my thoughts and emotions filters much of what becomes the words and phrasing I choose.

Randy and Guide Thor crossing the Finish line of Cox Providence on 5/4/2014 to qualify for Boston as detailed in “Qualifying for Quinn.”

Randy and Guide Thor crossing the Finish line of Cox Providence on 5/4/2014 to qualify for Boston as detailed in “Qualifying for Quinn.”

Endurance events often strip away our filters and expose us to ourselves. Those along for the journey and the powerful legacy of Boston elevates this beyond measure. So I hope to give you my candid thoughts at several points now and in comments below as we lead into and through my first Boston Marathon experience. I hope you’ll all feel welcome to share any thoughts, questions or observations along the way of this semi-permanent record of our journey.

Thor and I qualified together in a well chronicled experience that absolutely bared much of my inner turmoil through the challenge. I was still so tangled in the absence of Quinn and my drive to honor him. I knew I was not properly prepared and was ready to accept the painful consequences of forcing through the experience to lay the foundation of training and growth ahead. When the shoreline winds began to buffet us at mile 19 or so, I wasn’t sure I could do this. Beyond my blindness the balance challenges were rocking my world in all the wrong ways. Thor’s many marathons, problem solving, calm and encouraging words were likely the difference that day. I was strong in my determination but definitely met my match against the marathon.

I must have questioned my choices nearly a hundred times in the second half of the run and names of people who encouraged me or made a positive impact on my life were how I dealt with those miles and in some points just in each step. Each decision to run when my body had demanded a walk. To lift a leg quivering with muscle spasms and telling me I wanted to quit. People who haven’t been in these experiences with me often perceive an indomitable strength–I’ve been told that many times. Not so by any means, as Thor, Jose, Greg, Meredith, Justin, Tracy and many others know all too well. Determined and willful for certain but one who wrestles with that will as often as most of us I suspect.

Randy and Jose with determination and focus as they close in on the finish which would earn them the B1 National Championship in Sacramento, California on 12/7/2014

Randy and Jose with determination and focus as they close in on the finish which would earn them the B1 National Championship in Sacramento, California on 12/7/2014.

Quinn was my inspiration to returning to running and the reason for this Boston Marathon goal as I detail in our #Miles4Quinn program. It began with our hiking and in the conditioning and training he soon had me running. Most don’t know that Sarah Toney’s support for her sister got her into running and her infectious determination helped push Quinn and me further. Bob Hayes brought us into the road race world and I’ll forever appreciate his contributions to my running and hiking adventures. Jennifer Liang took over for Bob and all along the way my wife Tracy’s encouragement, knowledge, and support helped expand the inclination and opportunity. When my outreach for guides began, many answered the call and began this year of dedicated training. Christine Houde as one of the earliest human guides and half of the husband and wife team who will be my official guides in Boston. She joined me for a snowy first run which set the tone for this winter.

Few, however, answered the call as well as my well cherished friend and “Coach” Greg Hallerman. He believes running has given so much to his life that anyone who wants to run ought to get a little help to achieve. He has overachieved in logging more miles with me than anyone else despite some heroic diligence by Matt Shapiro. Ultimately Greg has taught me as much about life and friendship as he has about running and yet that running has brought me through failures like my Did Not Finish (DNF) at mile 23.5 of the Bay State Marathon (Sorry Meredith!). It brought me through the triumph of a B1 National Championship at the California International marathon (Congratulations to us Jose!) and it brings me to this epic goal of the 2015 Boston Marathon where he will be a part of our team.

Randy and his Boston Guide team of friend/coach Greg Hallerman and Guide team of Christine and Peter Houde from their last training long run together.

Randy and his Boston Guide team of friend/coach Greg Hallerman and Guide team of Christine and Peter Houde from their last training long run together.

#WeRunTogether is the hashtag for the Boston Marathon for many and yet I think it is never more true than for a blind runner. I’m actually part of Team with a Vision who coordinate blind athletes from around the world. They are a tremendous group in many ways such that I hope you’ll learn all of their amazing stories along the way this year. Most of all, though, I’m part of my team of Greg, Christine, and Pete. I always have the gift of sharing the team sport of running. I have someone to lift me up when I struggle mentally or physically. I have someone to whom my support can sometimes fill my own spirit with such strength as I think an individual might never fully realize on a race course. It’s this sharing of experience which is the essence of team and the acronym I well appreciate: T.E.A.M.; Together everyone Achieves More. The preparation for Boston is mostly behind and so much experience awaits. Every day I’m reading a tip I’ve probably heard many times. Every spare moment I’m visualizing my journey through the 9 towns/cities along the route. Yet there are still more days until the experience and so much more beyond that all I can say is I feel ready, excited, nervous, anxious, hopeful, motivated, honored and perhaps most of all grateful. It isn’t every day we get to be part of something epic but at this time I feel very connected to a community and an experience unique in the world. I cannot wait to see how it helps me learn, grow and celebrate for myself and for my most amazing Mighty Quinn. Let’s go Boston!

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3 Jan 15

By Randy Pierce

Randy, Tracy, and Autumn wish you a happy year ahead from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Randy, Tracy, and Autumn wish you a happy year ahead from the Golden Gate Bridge.

AULD LANG SYNE (English Translation)

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and days of long ago?

CHORUS:
For days of long ago, my dear, for days of long ago,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for days of long ago.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup! and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, for days of long ago.

CHORUS

We two have run about the slopes, and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot, since days of long ago.

CHORUS

We two have paddled in the stream, from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared since days of long ago.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand my trusty friend! And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught, for days of long ago.

CHORUS

For me, the heart of the New Year is not in the resolutions but in the reflections and looking ahead. My years are so very full of meaning and the pace often just a bit too unrelenting for the full measure of both of those things which surges to me around January’s arrival. I’ll take a short tour of the 2020 Vision Quest year past and thoughts of 2015 ahead.

Last January’s tragic loss of the Mighty Quinn resonates still for the loss and for the legacy he left behind. Our first published work is written from his perspective in Pet Tales and has been very well received. Our #Miles4Quinn has encouraged many thousands of healthy miles and both Randy and Tracy completed their first marathons in his honor.

Autumn arrived to ease some of the pain and bring her own joy and talents into our world. Her boundless joy continues to uplift our spirits every day as our bond and teamwork continues to grow.

We continued to experience mountain climbing although running goals were a primary feature. From our pioneer work on a Tuff Mudder to a B1 National Marathon Championship, there were many accomplishments. The NH Magazine “It List”, a TEDx Talk, and the strengthening of our board and staff all highlight a year of many positive strides. I think, as always, that the 34,000 students we’ve reached with our presentations remains one of the strongest aspects of our year and mission.

The promise we seek in 2015 is to bring out our best efforts and hopefully encourage and inspire others to do similarly. Winter training is leading towards readiness for the Boston Marathon. Summer’s training is towards the trip to Tanzania and our goal to reach our highest peak at the top of the world’s tallest stand alone mountain: Kilimanjaro!

Along the way we hope to bring our total students to well above 50,000 and continue our corporate presentations which may enable us to support Guiding Eyes and the NH Association for the Blind in the best fashion they both deserve from us.

At the heart of everything we do is our hopeful intent to tend the people of our community. These wonderful friends old and new are the foundation of hope and happiness for all that will come in the future and the not so secret means to saver every present moment.

Happy New Year to you all!

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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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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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18 Oct 14

By Randy Pierce

“It is sometimes a mistake to climb; it is always a mistake never even to make the attempt. If you do not climb, you will not fall. This is true. But is it that bad to fail, that hard to fall?”
-Neil Gaiman

I am both excited and nervous for the opportunity to provide a TEDX talk on November 15 in Manchester, NH.

Split picture featuring Randy hanging from the monkey bars at the Tough Mudder next to a picture of Randy giving a presentation.

Randy seeks to achieve physical and mental heights, and now he takes on another challenge–a TEDx talk! 

I have presented hundreds of times at this point and strongly believe in the many messages which are comfortable and natural parts of my presentations. TED talks are the Superbowl of presentations and could provide a tremendous benefit to the largest audience yet as well as for our 2020 Vision Quest Charity. So while I know full well I could fall flat, I also know very well how high I might climb with this opportunity.

So perhaps you may help us in many ways by suggesting or sharing your favorite TED talks, by sharing the news of the event, and, presuming I do not fall entirely flat on my face!, share our TEDX video as far and wide as possible once it is available online.

What is a TED talk?
While their history began in 1984, they have really flourished tremendously in the last decade or so. Curator Chris Anderson holds to the TED mission, sustaining the inspired format, the breadth of content, and the commitment to seek out the most interesting people on Earth and let them communicate their passion with a worldwide audience.

There are several forms of the TED talk and TEDx was created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading.” It supports independent organizers who want to create a TED-like event in their own community. Being nominated is a tremendous honor and being selected is both an opportunity and a responsibility. The theme of this TEDX event is “Connection,” which I believes resonates very well with the basics of our typical presentation theme: “Reaching Our Peak Potential” I have been and will remain hard at work tending the connections to our theme and building the roughly 12-minute journey for the audience. As part of that journey, I’m listening to many other presenters to feel their style and delivery as well as gaining the benefit their content delivers.

I entreat any and all to take some time and watch a TEDX or TED presentation. Perhaps share your favorite with all of us here that we may all benefit from the experience and to help build momentum as we work towards our opportunity on November 15. I then hope many of you will watch the live broadcast and as appropriate to your experience, share it with as many people and places as possible. In the meanwhile I’ll be turning to you for some encouragement on presentations you found worth sharing. Whether I reach new heights or not is yet to be seen, but I always believe in making the climb!

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11 Oct 14

By Randy Pierce

“I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.”

– John Hanc, running writer

They say fewer than 1% of all runners will ever run a marathon. I wonder how many fewer will ever run one totally blind? I know of a few and ran my own back on May 4, 2014 though admittedly with very poor preparation as retold in “Qualifying for Quinn.”

Randy and Thor crossing the finish line at the Cox Providence Marathon, May 2014

Randy and Thor crossing the finish line at the Cox Providence Marathon, May 2014

“If you feel bad at 10 miles, you’re in trouble. If you feel bad at 20 miles, you’re normal. If you don’t feel bad at 26 miles, you’re abnormal.”

– Rob de Castella, winner 1983 World Marathon Championships

At 8 a.m. on October 19, I will begin to run the Bay State marathon in Lowell, MA. This time with considerable attention to proper training and preparation thanks in large part to the knowledge, wisdom, experience, coaching, guiding, and friendship of Greg Hallerman. As hard as it was to run the last marathon, it was much more difficult to consistently attend to the many details necessary for successful training, particularly as a blind runner.

The vast majority of my run training needed to be outside and for that I needed enough people willing to sacrifice their time and effort to meet and run with me despite my transportation limitations. I was incredibly fortunate in so many runners undertaking this over the course of the past months. Thank you to: Greg H., Thor, Matt, Mary, Ron D., Andre, Kris, Christine, Robin, Laura, Greg N., Rob W., Meredith, Pete, Ron A., Nick, Scott, Chris, Austin, Rob C. and even Autumn for a little rail trail work.

This doesn’t include the hours of support on many fronts by my incredible wife Tracy who is in the midst of her own extensive training. Both Nashua’s Gate City Striders and the Greater Lowell Road Runners are running clubs who also lent support to the cause along with dozens of friends sharing information and helping ensure I could have enough guide opportunities.

I ran four days each week and as my training progress pace and distance became more tuned to my training and more difficult for finding guides. A guide needs to be strong enough to manage all the same work I’m trying to undertake while keeping enough mental concentration for us to be safe and of course there are often learning curves which bump and bruise the body along the way. I ran in snow, rain, heat, cold, darkness (hey, the guides do need to see!), hills, rural roads, traffic laden streets, rural areas, parks, rail trails, and virtually anything and everything possible. I occasionally defaulted to the “dreadmill” but very rarely due to the kindness and generosity of so many excellent people. I did interval work, hard pace runs, and race pace runs as speed and conditioning grew steadily. I practiced on the course I’ll run and I pushed myself to meet every challenge my coach and mentor suggested. Better still I pursued every opportunity he suggested to me as well.

Randy finishes the Hollis Fast 5k.

Randy finishes the Hollis Fast 5k.

I wore out a pair of running shoes and have three more pairs rotating for better longevity. I practiced with many types of equipment from fuel belts and camel backs through body glides and nutritional sources. Testing them on short runs first and again on long runs. I supplemented run training with a healthier weight goal, better dietary considerations overall, losing nearly 20 pounds. I strengthened my core with “Iso Abs” and even hot yoga classes!

A lot of time and effort went into this on my part and my life was changed significantly as a result of the commitment required–commitment I firmly believe will pay dividends in the Bay State marathon and beyond.

“The difference between the mile and the marathon is the difference between burning your fingers with a match and being slowly roasted over hot coals.”

–Hal Higdon, running writer and coach

We used a modified version of Hal Higdon’s marathon training program. October 19, I’ll run my first marathon with proper preparation but I’ll follow it with a trip to Sacramento, California on December 7 to run the California International Marathon. I’ll continue to enhance my training over the long New England winter to be ready for the crown jewel of my marathon goals, the 2015 Boston Marathon.

It will be my fourth marathon within a year and the work will become the foundation for many future running goals. I doubt many years will ever see as many marathons for me again but I do hope to continue with running as a significant part of my world. I’m competitive and driven in many ways and yet the key for me is to experience the rich depth of opportunities within our world. I hope to continually relish the experiences personally and perhaps to some extent demonstrate for all of us that the goals which are important to us are worth the grit and perseverance necessary to reach.

Randy and Quinn at the Boston Athletic Association 5k, April 2014.

Randy and Quinn at the Boston Athletic Association 5k, April 2014.

The most meaningful of all my experiences have always required the most determination and effort to achieve. There are rarely shortcuts around the hard work required but the essential steps are easy as ABC or perhaps by my backward ABC for any accomplishment important enough to any of us:

C – Conceive
B – Believe
A – Achieve

My initial goal was to run the Boston marathon in honor of the Mighty Quinn. There’s so much more to that story and some has already been expressed. Quinn helped me to walk, taught me to run, and showed me the way to reach some incredible heights. Bay State is just one step of many on the path of my pursuit of dreams and goals. Still it’s a powerful one and whether you are part of logging miles for the Mighty Quinn or simply a fellow believer in possibility, I hope you’ll spare a thought for my wonderful boy and for me as I put my trust in the tether and follow Ron and Meredith through the course and to a celebration of Ability Awareness for myself and for many others involved in making this reality.

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4 Oct 14

By Randy Pierce

I have a bias, I admit, but I was surprised that Quinn didn’t at least merit honorable mention in the ACE Awards for Canine Excellence. Though without question there are some great and worthy stories both atop the awards and on the nomination room floor. After all, which of us doesn’t believe our dog or pet is the greatest? I think in part we feel that way because they spend their lives treating us as if WE are the greatest and it is so very difficult to not feel similarly towards them.

Take a “gander” and see why Gander took the top honors at this year’s Service Dog Category for the AKC Award for Canine Excellence.

Or maybe you want to learn why Gander’s Facebook page has nearly a quarter of a million followers!

“Let me be the person my dog thinks I am” – Anonymous

The truth is that Gander, Boomer, Bruno, Xander, and many other listed pups certainly deserve their accolades and credit to the AKC for honoring them. I know Modi, Ostend, Quinn, and Autumn all deserve the highest accolades I could ever give each of them, guiltless for my well deserved bias. I also know some remarkable pups by story or meeting such as Brutus, Salty, Conan, Maggie, Lady, Kiri, and a near endless list of others who have touched the lives of their humans and beyond.

Many teach us some essential skills in managing our own lives as we tend to over-complicate what they masterfully keep simple. In honor of all the dogs who have lifted my spirits, taught me lessons, and/or done similarly in the lives of all of you, I encourage you all to share on our blog a line or two about a cherished pet and why they earned your appreciative accolade for their excellence. I’ll start it off and end this blog with my own:

Puppy: Yes, Puppy Dog was on the scene when I arrived. She tolerated all of my youth and most importantly to love a dog

Tippy: She was my first “my dog” as a kid and she showed me the magic of life with her puppy litters and the many playful moments of them and her. She trusted me with her pups and I marvel at that love and trust now.

Modi: My first adult dog who patiently guided me to learn how to be a deserving partner to his love, loyalty, and devotion.

Ostend: My first Dog Guide and the last sight I ever saw in this world. My graceful charmer who lifted me through my darkest hours.

Quinn: He gave me so very much. He taught me to walk again, to run, and to reach heights I’d never imagined. Unrivaled devotion, determination, and perseverance are not nearly enough to do justice to his legend.

Autumn: Boundless, joyful affection and an earnest eager start that is so full of promise…

How about it? Any of you care to share a line or two in honor of our furry companions?

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30 Aug 14

By Randy Pierce

T.E.A.M. – Together Everyone Achieves More

Randy poses with his team at the Tuff Mudder.

Randy poses with his team at the Tuff Mudder. Photo courtesy of Allan Mercier.

I hear many kind words about inspiration and accomplishment. It should be no surprise that the most dramatic of all of these moments usually involves an incredible team of support making the various accomplishments possible. Yet unfortunately all too often more credit is given to me than the team of which I am only one part. It gave me pause to consider my belief in how much more all of us may accomplish when we choose to be a part of the right team and dedicate ourselves to learning the best means to work together as a team.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” –Henry Ford

As Ford said well, the beginning is coming together. We have significant influence on the people with whom we surround ourselves in our life’s journey. I firmly believe the better we choose and the kind and careful tending of those choices is the first and most powerful step in our own appreciation and success in life.

Summit shot of the team's 48th 4,000-footer, August 2013.

Summit shot of the team’s 48th 4,000-footer, August 2013. Photo courtesy of Catherine Orza.

Whether undertaking a Tuff Mudder, perilous Peak or work like the 2020 Vision Quest charity, the communities of support and friendship we build are the foundation for all the success of the experience. I think it’s important to note that we should always be striving to give and to be all that we hope for in our teammates as well and that includes understanding the difference between when someone has understandably slipped as a partner and if someone simply isn’t the team player with whom we want our life surrounded.

Building the team is important, as is understanding the individual aspects of the entire team. Learn what communication works best for which people and try to provide them with that approach. Share openly with your team which methods work best for you and adapt where possible to fit their ability to provide with your needs. Check in with each other along the way to adjust as the team grows and learns so that encouragement and support combine with question and challenge to yield the strongest support for everyone’s goals. A team moving in unison towards common goals is a powerful force indeed.

My journey is filled with so many wonderful people who have helped enable me to achieve some incredible moments. It all falls so well inline with the very aptly named Peak Potential Annual Charity Dinner and Auction. It highlights the ultimate level of team rather nicely as well. On that night we will have our closest friends who support us and we’ll have the brief adventure experience teammates of the mountains and Tuff Mudders. In a larger sense, we’ll build a more vast community by our choices, and that greater community will help provide a means for perhaps the greatest accomplishments of our lives.

Thank you to all my closest friends, my many adventure partners, and especially to the vast network of friends and supporters who help me always strive to reach my own “peak potential” personally, professionally, and philanthropically!

Fairway Mortgage, Randy, Robbie, Sarah, and Quinn at Peak Potential 2013.

Peak Potential 2013. Photo courtesy of Kevin Green.

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2 Aug 14

Quinn smiling

The Mighty Quinn: Definitely exemplary of unconditional love.

By Randy Pierce

It was one of the most touching tributes I could imagine when Eileen Doyon contacted me through our mutual friend, Kathy Dunn. She understood I had shared a bond of incredible depth and meaning though she’d never met Quinn or me, except through the stories shared by Kathy. Yet she appealed to me to write a short story that would deliver the essence of our bond for her newest book , Pet Tales: Unconditional Love, in a series that delivers a process of healing and messages of inspiration along the way.

Quinn adorns the cover of this book and his tale is as well told as I have ever managed within the pages. I encourage you to get a copy and read Quinn’s and many other tales and tell us what you think. In the meantime, I want to allow Eileen to bring her wonderful concept to you directly as a guest blog post.

Unforgettable Faces and Stories

By Eileen Doyon

Eileen Doyon surrounded by the keepsakes that inspired the creation of her books.

Eileen Doyon surrounded by images and memories that helped to inspire the creation of her books.

It has been quite a journey publishing Dedications: Dads & Daughters, and Keepsakes, Treasures From the Heart in April 2013. Most people will deal with loss at some point in their lifetime. The loss of my mom and my brother early in my life has been extremely difficult. In 2011, I lost my dad to lung cancer and was with him ‘til the end. Since then I had been trying to figure out how to deal with death due to it being so much a part of my life. The year that followed my dad’s death was depressing, complicated, and dark. Receiving two treasures, my dad’s dog tags, and my grandmother’s chandelier, meant so much to me, my attitude, and my outlook on my own life. With these keepsakes, I felt their presence and their love all around me. I knew that others in my situation had to feel the same way. If so, I wanted to help. So that became my mission…. to help others talk about their loved ones who have passed and to tell their stories of their own personal keepsakes. Our military is very precious to me. We owe so much to our veterans that have served and protected our country. So that became my theme of my second book, Dedications: Dads & Daughters, daughters telling stories of their dads’ service to our country.

People were so excited, emotional, happy, and sad all in one, but it was all good. We laughed and cried talking about memories and stories of loved ones. Sometimes, those feelings are buried deep down due to the crazy hectic lives we all live, and sometimes it just hurts too much to think or talk about. Everyone’s comments were so supportive and positive. It really became a healing to all and made people feel good.

"Pet Tales: Unconditional Love" is available now!

“Pet Tales: Unconditional Love” is available now!

So, in this hectic life, I decided to create a series of books titled Unforgettable Faces and Stories. We all need to stop and think about people in our lives, both past and present, and stories of those unforgettable magic moments. Those moments consists of happy memories whether with our pets, traveling the roads, or particular topics of life… our theme is… YOUR story told by YOU! We provide a creative outlet to enable people to tell their own story, share their own pictures of special moments in their lives, and hopefully to use this storytelling as a healing process as it was for me.  The third book in the Unforgettable Faces and Stories series, Best Friends: Forever and Ever published in November 2013 is comprised of heartwarming stories of friendship that everyone can relate to. Our books also present a way to give back to the community with a percentage of profit of each book going to a specific charity related to that book’s theme. The next book in our series, Pet Tales: Unconditional Love is now newly available through our website. No matter what type of animal, pets provide many of us with companionship, unconditional love, security, healing and in some cases they are trained to assist us to enable our lives to be more functional. This book is filled with stories of these very special relationships.

I am so excited and honored that Randy Pierce submitted a story about “The Mighty Quinn” for this latest release!

Randy’s story is inspirational in itself.  How he shares Quinn’s story with us is unforgettable!  Look for Quinn’s story and many others in Pet Tales: Unconditional Love available through our website now.

 

 

 

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