Tag: Outreach

22 Feb 14

By Randy Pierce

2020 Vision Quest presentation at Memorial School presentation, June 2013.

2020 Vision Quest presentation at Memorial School presentation, June 2013.

We consider our school presentations to be a core part of our Mission for 2020 Vision Quest. We’re proud to announce that our “For Educators” page has been recently updated.

Having reached nearly 30,000 students with our presentations, we had a disappointing but appropriate easing of our schedule during Quinn’s battle with bone cancer. While we will always mourn the loss of the Mighty Quinn, we are now fully returned to scheduling and we are presenting at schools everywhere possible. What school or student shouldn’t hear the powerful message we provide? That’s our motivation in always striving to be available for these opportunities.

Are you an educator at a school, youth organization, or other appropriate group? Do you believe our message should be heard somewhere? Please consider reviewing and sharing our “For Educators” page, or this post with anyone who might benefit from the information. Continue the great support our charity receives or even share with us a contact you think we should approach to ensure the opportunity is understood. We are not taking a February or April vacation in delivering upon the mission of our educational outreach and we hope you’ll help us in this effort!


1 Feb 14

By Randy Pierce

Nametag reading, "Hudson Lions, NH District 44-H, The Mighty Quinn"

Quinn's name tag as an honorary Lions Club member.

While “I am Lion” as I write this feature, I’m ever so proud to be a part of an excellent group and suggest you might find similar “pride” by joining us. I am a member of the Hudson NH  Lions Club after joining Nottingham West and being welcomed completely by our local club several years ago when hard times led to the closing of our original club.

Lions are the largest service organization in the world, accomplishing tremendous things in their local communities, nationally, and beyond, while holding strong support to their early origins as “Knights for the Blind” at Helen Keller’s request of them back in June of 1925. I’ve shared time and company with many great and vastly differing clubs from Litchfield, Meredith, Atkinson, Canaan, Portsmouth, Chester, Concord, Souhegan Valley and well beyond. Each club has differences in membership numbers, age, and approach but all have a constant commonality as well which is an adherence to their motto “We Serve.” I’ve been delightedly surprised numerous times when encountering people such as Pete and Christine Houde who are reaching out to help in some fashion only to discover afterwards we share membership in the Lions organization.

Lions Club of Hudson, NH sponsors contest to create peace posters, "Our World, Our Future"

The Hudson, NH Lions Club sponsors important efforts such as the Lions International Peace Poster Contest in local schools and youth groups. Winners at Memorial School illustrating the theme, "Our World, Our Future."

My own club has remained my closest role model for friendship, camaraderie, and fun, all while working towards the opportunity to make a positive impact in the world. It was little surprise they immediately made Quinn an honorary member and later welcomed my wife Tracy when she was ready to join us as well. I put an inordinate amount of effort into our 2020 Vision Quest charity and the organizations we support, NHAB and Guiding Eyes, and yet I find it satisfying and gratifying to make the time and choose to be an active member in Lions.

I hope all of you reasonably local to me would consider joining with me and attending a meeting at our club, perhaps discovering that you too could benefit from and be a benefit to the efforts we undertake in making a difference in the world. Should you not be sufficiently local, perhaps you can seek out your local club and tell them you’ve heard from me there’s a great opportunity and you want to explore if it’s right for you.

There are many great causes and many great organizations out there. It can often be all too easy to  be complacent in our lives or realistically busy enough we don’t choose to make the time for one more thing. It’s honestly not the right choice for everyone and yet I know there is more than enough need to warrant the effort. I know that near you there is a Lions Club waiting and willing to welcome a new member to a team of people who will give more than they ask of you in ways which for me is worth the choice to belong!

So how about it–will you join me?

Connect with the Hudson, NH Lions Club on Facebook.


10 Dec 13

By Randy Pierce

Memorial School

I freely admit that it is more challenging right now for me to sit and write on any topic without Quinn dominating my thoughts. I wanted to lean away from him this round and found a path, but due to some incredible schools and students you’ll note I didn’t get to stray far.

Just before Thanksgiving we had a trio of interactions with schools which produced a veritable cornucopia of rewards worthy of sharing with our community. Given the nature of the gifts along with that fact that December 11, 2013 is Quinn’s 9th Birthday, it seems appropriate to feature them while honoring Quinn’s Day.

We made our fourteenth visit to Memorial Elementary School in Bedford, NH and during this final time the presentations were to us rather than from us. Through a generous “Pennies for Paws” program incredibly matched by a family, they donated $1,156 to 2020 Vision Quest in honor of Quinn! Additionally the hand crafted cards in support of Quinn are clearly signs of the positive impact of this incredible pup!

Quinn sits amongst a batch of get well and thank you cards

Thank you and get well cards from students.

Sunapee Middle High school requested a pair of consecutive presentations for grades 6-8 and 9-12 in their gymnasium. Their 2013 theme of “perseverance” seemed an appropriate topic for our presentation. Yet again, we were the ones gifted, not just with an honorarium to the charity, a school sweatshirt for Randy, tasty soft treats for Quinn and a school website article, but also an incredible video slide show with musical accompaniment all in tribute to the Mighty Quinn!

Our final gift did not involve our even attending the school. Our friend, frequent hiking partner, and sixth grade English teacher, Kyle Dancause, shared our story with his class at F.A. Day Middle School of Newton, MA. While we didn’t get to meet the students directly, they were given a taste of our celebrations of life and sent along a group poem in four parts. The audio files of their reading the poem to us was a Birthday worthy tribute to the mostly Mighty Quinn!

Four More Poems Part 1

Four More Poems Part 2

Four More Poems Part 3

Four More Poems Part 4

Happy Birthday Quinn and thank you for the gift of sharing life with you!


18 Nov 13

By Melissa Caruso

Randy and Quinn greet their fans at Peak Potential 2013.

Peak Potential has never quite been your run-of-the-mill event. Sure, some of it’s the same stuff I’d see at a fundraiser for my kids’ school: food, silent auction, raffle, the usual suspects. But at Peak Potential, you get to hear about the latest adventures and accomplishments of Randy and the Mighty Quinn, which never fail to uplift and amaze. You can get puppy kisses from the next generation of guide dogs, attending with their raisers. And the enthusiasm and support of the 2020 Vision Quest community is truly warm and wonderful.

Peak Potential is always a little special. But this year, the event transcended “a little special” and became a truly wonderful and moving experience.

With the sad medical news about Quinn’s bone cancer, I wasn’t sure if I’d see him there this year. But there he was, making the rounds as usual — only this time, his admirers got to feed him Charlee Bears. It was good to see his wagging tail and get a greeting sniff (after getting permission, of course). And he had a lot of admirers to greet — the place was packed almost beyond capacity.

The audience listens to Randy's moving presentation about the 2020 VQ mission.

Randy’s presentation began with assurances that Quinn’s life at home these days had turned into Play-a-palooza and Treat-o-rama, and that he and Tracy were spoiling the Mighty Quinn as thoroughly as he deserved. The applause that greeted this announcement was so vigorous and heartfelt that you’d have thought the Patriots scored a touchdown. It was one of many signs of the amazing, positive, supportive atmosphere in the room that night.

Randy also shared a video and photos that showcased Quinn’s playful side and gorgeous grin. To me, the way Quinn zips around like a happy maniac when out of harness underscores how incredible guide dogs are — he’s very much just a goofy, sweet, yellow lab, just like my own significantly less accomplished dog, but look at the amazing things he can do! The fact that Quinn and Randy are, when it comes down to it, just a normal dog and guy — they’re not actually superheroes, even though they may seem like it sometimes — only makes their example more powerful.

Quinn greets the next generation of Guide Dogs.

This is part of why Randy is one of those rare people who makes you feel like a better person just for knowing him. It doesn’t seem to make sense — how can just knowing someone improve you? But through his contagious inspiration, he does. I’ve seen it in action.

Due to winning a bid at an earlier Peak Potential, my family had the great honor of being a part of Randy’s hiking team for his penultimate hike in the summer 48, Mt. Carrigain. When planning for the hike, I agonized about whether to bring along my two little girls, who at that time were aged 6 and 9. They’re seasoned hikers compared to most kids their age, but at 10 miles round trip, the trail would be nearly twice the length of their longest previous hike, with a far greater elevation gain. But then I thought of the 2020 Vision Quest message, and I realized that there was no way I was going to tell my girls “you can’t do this, it’s too hard.” And sure enough, they rose to the challenge beautifully, and completed a hike that most grownups would consider a substantial accomplishment.

Peak Potential, Randy’s philosophy, and the sterling example on the trail of Randy and Quinn’s amazing partnership all made that possible. Without them, my girls and I still wouldn’t know that they had the capability in them all along.

I thought of that hike as Randy spoke of the accomplishments of 2020 Vision Quest this year. There was a lot to be proud of. Back when Randy first announced his intent to hike all 48 of the 4000’+ peaks in the White Mountains, those of us who knew him well suspected he might accomplish this goal early — but even so, we never would have guessed he would do it twice by 2013! And hearing Randy’s account of how the funds raised by 2020 Vision Quest for Guiding Eyes for the Blind and the New Hampshire Association for the Blind have grown dramatically from year to year was as heartening and inspiring as his comparison of the impressive numbers to the staggering cost of training a single guide dog was sobering.

The most popular item at the auction--an inspirational photo of Quinn.

Randy’s presentations are always a highlight of the evening, but I didn’t expect the auction itself to be thrilling and moving. I should have known better — with 2020 Vision Quest, you should always expect the unexpected. The incredible generosity and enthusiasm of the community came through in the live bidding, with heated but friendly competition for all of the items. Even the silent auction blew me away — this was the first time I’d ever seen such a high percentage of the items in a silent auction go for full price (or even more). But the most moving moment of the auction came when it was time to auction off a gorgeous print of the Mighty Quinn, beautifully mounted with a quote from Gandhi.

This auction went a little differently. Randy started out by asking how many people in the audience would be willing to pay a low price — $40 — for the print. A forest of hands went up. Then he asked us to keep our hands up, as he said higher and higher numbers, until he came to a price that we weren’t willing to pay. And he began counting.

The lucky winners, with part of the 2020 VQ team.

As he got up past $100, some hands went down, but many remained firmly in the air. Randy asked Tracy to tell him when to slow down, and kept counting, quickly. At $200, she still hadn’t asked him to — many hands were still up. $250, $260, $270… still, several hands thrust up with conviction in the crowd. A hush fell over the room.

As Randy kept counting, I looked around at the faces of the people bidding. I’m not sure I can describe what I saw there, but it was beautiful. The dedication, good will, love, faith, and more that one mighty dog has instilled in so many hearts was incredibly moving.

And Randy kept counting. Past $300, past $350, and still Tracy didn’t need to tell him to slow down. $400…$450…$490… $500.

Randy stopped, and asked Tracy how many hands were still in the air. There were four. With the agreement of all, he decided to make three more copies and give them each one for $500… so we’ll never know how high he would have had to count.

I like to think of those four prints, maybe hanging in the living rooms of four wonderfully generous people, and imagine guests asking about them. I envision those four lucky winners trying to explain, with an enthusiasm familiar to all of us who’ve done it ourselves, the Mighty Quinn and Randy, and all the amazing things they’ve accomplished.

Because when inspiration is that contagious, just knowing them is all it takes for it to spread, and take root, and grow.

We'll love you forever, our Mighty Quinn.



3 Nov 13

By Randy Pierce

“I just wanted to thank you one more time for coming to inspire our students and staff yesterday.  Many staff approached me afterwards to say how great it was to hear you speak. You spoke to 345 6th graders, 336 7th graders and 402 8th graders.  There were also about 20 staff at each presentation for a total of about 1143 people you reached yesterday.”

Karen A. Turcotte – Londonderry, NH

I’ve been asked what age range I most prefer to visit with our 2020 Vision Quest Educational Presentations. We provide our presentations to all ages from kindergarten to high school as well as colleges and corporations. Certainly there are ranges in which various parts of our message have the potential to resonate more powerfully, and there is definitely a part of me which hopes to have the most powerful positive impact possible. Yet even in the youngest of our presentations, there are clearly moments which convince me the efforts are always worthwhile. Having a six-year-old tell me “I know not to pet him but he’s so cute!” always earns a smile as I tell Quinn he’s off duty so full greetings can occur. It still shows a little learning took place.

The topics and the emphasis change with the audience and the desired points of emphasis, as does the type of reward I receive from the experience. I strive to demonstrate all things are possible, albeit with considerable belief and determination as part of the process. I’ve found there is never an age and rarely a person who doesn’t come away from a presentation with a challenge to their prior vision for the world.

Fortunately for me, there is rarely a time I do not hear from various folks present on the positive impact we have already had upon their lives. These comments are the primary inspiration and motivation for my continued efforts with our charity, and as such are all the essential part of my favorite presentations. Still, if I had to pick an absolute favorite, the answer would be simple: it’s always my very next presentation! Drop me an email if that presentation may be for your school or group!


7 Oct 13

By Randy Pierce

I believe strongly that the positive impact of our school presentation is an essential mission. We work towards building a better future by inspiring students of all ages to believe in themselves, set goals, problem solve, and achieve through adversity. Testimonials from teachers, administrators, and students themselves confirm that our message and delivery resonate with a lasting inspiration. Our anecdotes and techniques highlight an approach which changes lives.

We are proud to have provided our presentations to more than 27,000 students as of September 2013 and yet feel more determined there are many more students who would benefit from our program. We encourage parents, teachers, and administrators throughout New England to continue the great referrals of our program.

Specifically, I want to remind all of our Massachusetts community that Fairway Independent Mortgage (Needham) has generously undertaken a partnership to ensure more students throughout Massachusetts can receive our presentation. Along with their continued support of 2020 Vision Quest, they are assisting in coordinating schedules and transportation to make this possible. You can find more information on our Fairway Partnership in our initial announcement. (We are also pleased to have Fairway as a sponsor for Peak Potential, our annual fundraising event in November.)

You too can help in this process through a variety of means. We encourage all of our community to share our information with any school or group you feel would benefit from our presentations. We also welcome you to share their contact information with us if you prefer we reach out to them. There is always opportunity to support all of our efforts and most especially our core mission of outreach for education. The choice you make may very well ensure more students gain the insight to improve the future we all share. Thank you for your help and support!


14 Sep 13

By Randy Pierce

Any one moment in our lives may hold the opportunity to make a world of difference for us or the people we encounter. Still, it may be incredibly difficult to recognize the choice to live sufficiently aware within the moment.

An early winter hike up Mt. Hale in 2012 provided a chance encounter with Greg Neault and Aaron Sakash. All of us were open enough to the whole of the experience that we became hiking companions and friends. Those two alone could provide many an inspiring tale and likely will–however, that’s a tale for another day. This blog will focus upon someone I met ultimately through Aaron.

In memory of Zach Tilbe, funds are being raised to help support Zach's wish to give back to the people who helped him and his family.

Andy Morse is running the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon on October 6. I’m sure there is plenty of personal challenge and accomplishment ahead for Andy in this endeavor. I know a bit about Andy from our shared hikes and his tremendous support and encouragement of our 2020 Vision Quest efforts. What speaks more powerfully than I could ever hope to match is the reason behind his efforts and why I hope you’ll visit their page and give them as much encouragement and support as possible.

Zach Tilbe did not graduate from high school last year, though he most certainly was on the minds of all his classmates who honored his memory during their ceremony. He is undoubtedly on the minds of his loving family who face the incredible grief of his death from a terminal illness as they find the various means to cope with his loss from their lives.

How does one face such potent grief? They follow a bit of Zach’s example and attempt to take positive steps forward. Thus, Andy will be running for Zach Tilbe’s Heroic Hearts. Funds will go to ease the challenge faced by other children and their families while facing the most serious of medical challenges.

Most of us will hopefully never know so well the challenge faced by Zach, his family, or their many supportive friends. We all could and should know the power and benefit of community support we can provide each other. We are all going to face challenges–and whether we can set aside the distraction and reach out to someone else we in the face of our own experience is likely how we may best test the hero in our own heart.

I know only that I will honor Andy, Zach and his family in the best ways I am able, one step of which is to share this with you. That is only my first step and I hope I’ll be meeting many friends old and new along this path.


7 Sep 13

Heading into our Fourth Annual Peak Potential Dinner & Charity Auction, we are very excited to have three of our top sponsorship slots filled already. Joining us are Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) as our Platinum Sponsor; and Bank of New Hampshire and Fairway Independent Mortgage as our Gold Sponsors. (Check out our sponsor page for more on what those levels mean.) As we celebrate these new partnerships, I’m reflecting on where we started and how we’ve grown.

When I first proposed the idea of a charity dinner to the 2020 Vision Quest staff, it was met with trepidation: Is it the right kind of event for our newly founded organization? Is it too high a ticket price? Do we risk losing money instead of raising it? Will our (then small but growing) audience appreciate this kind of event? How could we possibly put it together with our tiny volunteer staff? After much discussion we decided to plunge in.

Our first year’s challenges were what you might expect: Deciding on a budget that we could “risk” if it didn’t go well. Finding a hall that was right and within our price point (i.e., as close to nothing as we could get, while still providing an appropriate level of quality for the event we envisioned). Coming up with auction items. Scheduling where we were least likely to conflict with attendees’ other commitments. Getting people to buy tickets. Oh, and Randy and Tracy getting married a few weeks before the event! Sponsorships were just a dream.

For the hall, we lucked out by finding The Derryfield in Manchester. They have great food, a beautiful space, and supportive staff.

Friends of 2020 and local businesses rallied to provide an eclectic array of auction items, targeting an audience whose makeup was as yet unknown. Gradually, ticket sales crept up, a table here, a couple there.

A few weeks before that first event, I was gleefully able to tell everyone we were in the black! Every penny raised from then on would be direct to the charity instead of covering event costs. I let out a breath I hadn’t known I was holding.

By the end of that first Peak Potential dinner, we knew we had a success on our hands. People were telling us how much fun they had, how great the food was, how impressed they were by Randy’s presentation. We could feel it in our hearts–it was the right way to celebrate the year’s accomplishments with our friends and supporters of 2020 Vision Quest’s goals. It was a personal and fiscal success.

Year two ran even more smoothly and Laconia Savings (now Bank of New Hampshire) jump-started our sponsorships. We got to thank members of their team personally when they attended the dinner. But each year, we still have that holding-our-breath time as we wait to cross the threshold into actual fundraising.

Last year, year three, we had a new and exciting challenge: What happens if we sell out the event? This year, it’s a sure bet we’ll be full to capacity.

Our expenses are kept as minimal as possible: PR, credit card fees for registration, the hall rental, and our biggest one, the food itself. Planning and implementation of the event is done entirely by volunteers, and each year we’ve set our fundraising goals higher as teamwork improves.

The devotion of our volunteers and the enthusiasm and giving nature of our attendees is what makes our sponsors so important. Our goal is to put every penny possible back into 2020 and our education programs, allowing more schools to include Randy’s presentations about achieving through adversity in their curriculum. Sponsorships allow us to do just that. Subsequently, we support New Hampshire Association for the Blind and Guiding Eyes for the Blind as they drive someone to a much needed doctor’s visit, or help that person learn to walk with a cane, or provide them with a life-changing guide dog.

Each Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze sponsorship we receive is one more success for the amazing group of people working so hard to help others.

Sponsorship also spread awareness of 2020 Vision Quest’s mission to people who may not yet have heard of us, and in the process, makes our supporters aware of the good work our sponsors do for their community. It’s community supporting businesses supporting community. A win all around.

Thanks again to DCU, Bank of New Hampshire, and Fairway Independent Mortgage, our Platinum and Gold sponsors for this year’s Peak Potential. We still have opportunities available–won’t you consider sponsoring this year?


31 Aug 13

By Randy Pierce

"Just four more feet!" Photo courtesy of Justin Fuller.

In the wake of completing our 48 peaks during the summer hiking seasons, this week we have an exciting announcements about our “winter 48″ quest. Dina Sutin’s fantastic film “Four More Feet” about that journey has been delighting audiences throughout New England and beyond since September 2012:

“Four More Feet” is a documentary about Randy Pierce, a totally blind hiker who takes on the challenge of hiking all of New Hampshire’s 48 four-thousand foot peaks in a single winter season. Aided by his service dog, “the Mighty Quinn” and several human guides, he had just three months to complete this quest. Far more than just their story, this film provides a powerful message of perseverance and more for all audiences.

Thanks to Dina’s incredible talent and dedication, we are delighted to bring this story to you in several new ways. She has brought Descriptive Video Service (DVS) to the film in order to deliver the experience more powerfully to the blind or visually impaired communities. Better still, the audio track of the movie with the description included is being made available for free download for everyone.

You can download it from our 2020 Vision Quest page today!

While the DVS Audio format is fantastic, many of you may want to experience the film with the full grandeur of the video as well. To get your very own copy of the DVD, there’s a simple two-step process to have it mailed to you anywhere in the Continental United States.

Online Donation:

  1. Make a donation of $25 or more to our 501(c)(3) charity by clicking here.
  2. You will receive a “Confirmation of Donation Email” which you should forward to us at 4morefeet@2020visionquest.org along with the address to which you wish to have the DVD mailed.

US Postal Mail

  1. Make a donation of $25 or more to our 501(c)(3) charity by sending a check made out to “2020 Vision Quest” to:
    109 E. Glenwood St
    Nashua NH 03060
  2. Clearly indicate the address (in the continental US) to which you would like your complimentary DVD shipped

We will typically mail DVD requests within a week of the request being received.

We are thrilled with the opportunity this provides to share an incredible story with a powerful message. We hope you too will share it with everyone for whom you believe this may make a positive impact!


17 Aug 13

By Randy Pierce

During rare moments, we may make a decision which will play a significant role in transforming our lives. On even rarer occasions, the power of that choice may create ripples well beyond our expectations. Such was the nature of my 2009 decision to undertake climbing “the 48.”

Randy sits back on his heels in a field with Quinn in a heel by his side. Quinn and Randy meet eyes with a look that shows their mutual love.I decided to do this in celebration of the gift of Quinn, my return to walking, the wonder of the wilderness, and my hope that through the choice to share this process I might make a positive impact for anyone who faces a little adversity in their lives. The challenges, rewards, friendships, personal growth, support, and most definitely the broader positive impact is well beyond any expectation or hope I might have initially held.

There have been both losses and triumphs in the formation of 2020 Vision Quest, which is about so much more than just our hiking these peaks. Through it all, we have created an organization that adds a value that I’m tremendously proud to be a part of supporting, and which will continue to accomplish beneficial actions and have positive influences well beyond the hiking portion of our Quest.

It all began with the choice to hike those incredible trails and summit those peaks in full awareness that each totally blind step would be potentially perilous and decidedly difficult. So they have been–but despite the adversities we’ve faced along the way, August 24 at 7:00 am we will depart the Flume Visitor’s Center in Franconia Notch and begin climbing the Liberty Springs route towards our final summit: Mt. Flume. Given all that we’ve learned and experienced, we hope to take our team over Mt. Liberty, out to Mt. Flume and back to the trailhead by 5:00 pm where several friends are already committing to be present with coolers and grills to refresh our weary team.

The team on the Southern Presi traverse hike share a high five. The camera captures their triumph from below.

Job Well Done - Southern Presi Traverse

I fervently hope still more friends will be present whether they’ve hiked some mountain trails, leisurely toured some of the many tourist options showcasing some of the wonders of the White Mountains or simply bringing their own gas grills and supplies to celebrate with us. Without a community of support, my hikes would have been so vastly more difficult and it would be unlikely I’d be finishing this year. Without community, the worthy results of 2020 Vision Quest would not have reached so many people and lives with such a positive message. Even without community, I will still celebrate the final part of our original quest, but with each person joining us live or in virtual support, my celebration and our greater goals will be enhanced with the motivation and inspiration such extensive efforts need.

So please, do consider joining us live to experience some of the magic and marvel we’ve found in these majestic treasures of New Hampshire’s Wilderness. Do share our Facebook community as we strive to spread our message further each day. Do share our website and the messages and possibilities it helps to create in schools and communities where we deliver our best outreach steadily.

The end of the official hiking is far from the end of our real quest, but we are poised on a marvelous pinnacle of accomplishment. From this vantage, I have a vision of just how much more we might accomplish–and as it has been throughout, much of that accomplishment hinges upon those who share a belief in our mission and message. How much can you help share our message, support our cause and join our team?

We have already met our tagline many times and in many ways: “Achieve a Vision Beyond Your Sight!” Vision did not end with the loss of my sight nor does it end with the accomplishment of this Quest. It begins with each choice that help us grow our community of support and as such it begins with you all for what you have done and what you do next to be a part of our team. Thank you for sharing this vision!

A brilliant orange sun begins to rise above the darkened southern presidential range - as seen from Mt Bond. The sky is a firey orange to yellow fading into a light blue.

Sunrise as seen on Mt. Bond


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