Tag: Outreach



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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22 Aug 14

By Randy Pierce

I’ve undoubtedly earned the reputation that’s at the source of this week’s post and yet I still find amusement in the three typical reactions to my August 23 undertaking:

  1. “Of course you would do a Tuff Mudder.”
  2. “Are you crazy?”
  3. “What in the world is a Tuff Mudder?”

The last is the easiest to answer: initially it was a 10-12 mile, intensely difficult obstacle course designed to test the metal of British Special Forces. As the competitive challenge was brought a bit more mainstream, it has been adapted as a fundraiser for projects such as the Wounded Warrior Program. The team approach eases the challenge somewhat, but for many it is the ultimate test of determination, perseverance, and perhaps sanity!

The Tuff Mudder youtube video will show you better than I could ever reasonably describe.

Greg, Randy, Peter, & Christine check out an obstacle

Greg, Randy, Peter, & Christine check out an obstacle

In my own defense, of sanity, I was entreated to undertake this by a couple of good friends who thought our teamwork to achieve this together would set the bar as high as any of my undertakings. I thought it was an ideal way to wreak havoc with my Marathon training. Of course I said yes, but only after being shown that at least one other blind person undertook, survived, and blogged about his experience.

Surprisingly, that made it easier to say yes because I knew I wasn’t doing it to achieve a first, but rather to support the goals of friends and attempt to take teamwork yet again to a very high level. For me that experience and demonstration is worth the challenge, struggles, and risks I’ll experience in the event.

As I write this blog, I have not yet undertaken the event but by the time of publishing it will have occurred. Whether I succeed, fail, or walk some form of middle ground to the above, I am confident we’ll have come together and given our very best attempt to do each challenge fully. Our team will come together in some incredible ways with me providing as much to the team as I’m certain to get from it. I hope to have more words for it when it’s complete but I reserve the below space for a few picture highlights of our team at work.

Up and over an obstacleRandy mugs for the camera with Greg on top of an obstacle

 

 

Randy works on monkey bars

 

I want to give special thanks (blame?) to the two people most responsible for getting me into this muddy mess: thank you Laura Mountain and Greg Naeult. In the follow up I have no doubt a full team of thanks will be owed as Pete, Christine, Tom 1, Tom 2, and a few others are sure to be essential to the rewards within our reach!

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9 Aug 14

By Randy Pierce

Autumn is fascinated by the butterfly that has landed near her.First and foremost, Autumn did NOT eat any butterflies. She did, however, accompany me to the Butterfly Place. They absolutely welcome service animals and in fact were as warm and kind with Autumn as they had been with Ostend and Quinn in their visits to this wonderful opportunity just a few short miles from our home.

They did once have a potential service animal run amok in their facility and even eat a couple of butterflies. It’s sad that I have to say “potential” service animal but a proliferation of fraudulent approaches coupled with inappropriate behavior is a significant concern at present.

Any service animal acting inappropriately may be and should be requested through the handler to depart. As a handler, it is our responsibility to ensure our dogs are properly prepared for any and all environments to which we are bringing them. It is our job to maintain control over our service animal as we work with them to benefit from their training to provide us with their service. This is something well taught at Guiding Eyes and likely all Dog Guide schools. While the occasional failure may occur, it is more common with the fraudulent situations and leads to questions about how best to manage the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Anyone being expected to grant access to a Service Dog has the right to inquire:

  1. Do you have a disability?
  2. What service is the dog trained to perform for you?

Those two questions and the right to request that inappropriate behavior cease immediately or that the dog be removed from the premises are the means to protect business owners. Truthfully, many are intimidated by the entire process. Wanting to not restrict appropriate access or fear of litigation causes a paralysis of action and may allow those abusing the system with fraudulent service animals or misbehaving service animals to cause significant problems. As much as I have been frustrated by illegal service denial in the past, I am similarly disheartened by the animal users who perform an equal injustice.

Autumn poses behind a large wooden butterfly with her head peeking out

This is why I will always strive to ensure Autumn and I are prepared for all of the situations we encounter. I want to open lines of communication in every way possible and I want to savor experiences like the marvels of the Butterfly Place for both Autumn and me… as well as the many others sharing the experience with us. I hope many others give their personal responsibility an equal due diligence and get to savor the experiences as well!

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21 Jun 14

By Brent Bell

Randy and Brent ride tandem.

Randy and Brent ride tandem.

Randy and I are planning on riding a double century (over 200 miles) Friday, June 27th, 2014.

The “century” or 100-mile bike ride, is the cycling equivalent of the marathon. It’s a ride many serious cyclists have on their bicycling bucket list. When you go beyond the marathon in running, you find a small group of ultra endurance runs of 50 or even 100 miles. In the cycling world when you go beyond the century, you have the Randonneurs: cyclists who will ride distances from 100k up to 1200k in a specific time limit.

Randy and I are working our way into this long distance cycling culture by trying out a few of the New England Randonneur events (100k & 200k), but for our 300k we are going to complete a ride special in my life. We are riding from Nashua to Lebanon on early Friday morning on the 27th (2am start) and hoping to return to Randy’s home around 7pm. The time limit for a Randonneur 300k is 20 hours.

This ride is special to me because in the 1970s I completed a Lebanon to Litchfield (Nashua border town) to Lebanon ride. I thought of this ride as a way to see a good friend who spent her weekends in Litchfield, but the ride became a “Brent against the world” event. No one thought I could ride such a distance.

Randy and Brent with the Randonneurs.

Randy and Brent with the Randonneurs.

The ride had a tremendous positive effect on realizing my potential. As I entered high school a shy and nervous boy, I often drew upon my knowledge of how I succeeded on the ride as a boost in my confidence. I credit the ride with all my success in geometry my freshman year, as I learned to be tenacious from a long bicycle ride.  The ride helped to propel me forward when times were tough.

Now that I am turning 50, I have been thinking about repeating this ride, wanting to visit the person who suffered his way home from Litchfield 37 years ago. I am happy to have my dear friend Randy to help me.

Why share this  with 2020 Vision Quest? The core message of 2020 is about human potential. Potential is realized by moving through challenges. Randy shares a positive and inspirational message, but I know he wants everyone to experience the human potential inside of each of us. As my mom so wisely challenged me, can you find the inspiration to walk across the reality between where you find yourself today and where you dream of being tomorrow (just to clarify, we will be biking through the reality).

Randy and I spoke a lot about biking on a tandem as we have spent time together over the years. We have been dreaming of longer and longer bike rides, and this is a test to help us see our potential.

On June 27th, think of us. We will be laughing, smiling, suffering, enduring, and living a full life.  I hope we learn about human potential, which could be a lesson in failure, patience, or success. All I am sure about is we will not want to sit on a bike seat for a long time. Wish us well and consider following along as we share updates through the 2020 vision Quest Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets during our epic quest.

Our route on June 27.

Our route on June 27.

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24 May 14

By Randy Pierce

I cannot give blood as the nature of my medical condition prevents the Red Cross from using it. However, I can and will join my fellow Hudson Lions and the Red Cross by giving my full support to their upcoming blood drive:

Red CrossThursday, May 29
1:00 – 6:00 pm

White Birch
222 Central St.
Hudson, NH 03051

I am working the full event and would very much appreciate as many of you as possible joining us. The White Birch provides some great food in appreciation for those who are choosing to literally save lives through the donation. Autumn is giving free licks to many of you as well. Won’t you help where I cannot and make this important decision?

It’s a fairly young event and as such process times will be fairly quick. With the online registration options, you can minimize any delays.

Click here to make an online appointment
Or call them directly at: 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767)

There are so many powerful reasons to give blood and yet the sad reality is although an estimated 38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate, less than 10% actually do make this choice. Will you? There are so many facts available to show the importance and I urge you to explore the Red Cross website.

More than 41,000 units of blood are needed every day in the US. Meeting this need is only is possible through donations from people like you. I’m once again proud of my club for helping to make this possible, proud of the White Birch for supporting the cause, and extremely grateful to all of the Red Cross efforts to ensure so many of us have had our lives or the lives of loved ones saved because of their efforts. As I said I cannot give blood but I’ll dedicate my time and encourage you to help where I cannot. Give blood at this event if possible or a blood drive near to you. Become a regular donor and know the difference you make in our world! I’ll be at this event to thank each and every one of you personally!

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10 May 14

By Randy Pierce

Mount Kilimanjaro is the is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Mount Kilimanjaro. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

It is the highest stand alone mountain in the world. It is the tallest mountain in Africa and achieving its summit will be our quest. We are seeking the Peak Potential of Mt. Kilimanjaro! Three members of the 2020 Vision Quest team have chosen to join The “2015 Wild Heart – No Limits Kilimanjaro Expedition” in September of 2015.

Rob and Randy hike Mt. Jefferson. Photo courtesy of Greg Neault.

Rob and Randy hike Mt. Jefferson. Photo courtesy of Greg Neault.

There will be many future discussions as we are joining a team with a mission similar to our own, but this is a time for announcements and  celebrations as we establish the foundation work for success. When Michael and Serenity Coyne approached me with the opportunity, I was tremendously honored and knew there were many questions to answer and problems to consider before commitment. All of those have been addressed with enough comfort for us to give an enthusiastic yes to this opportunity!

I wanted two capable companions familiar with the challenges presented by my hiking with absolutely no vision–in long-time friends Rob Webber and Jose Acevedo I have that and so much more. In the future profiles of our many companions from the expedition, we hope to showcase a very inspirational team each with inspirational stories to help power the journey. We look forward to sharing our planning, training and support over the next 16 months leading into our adventure!

Jose Avecedo and Randy on a peak. Photo courtesy of Tracy Pierce.

Jose Acevedo and Randy on a peak. Photo courtesy of Tracy Pierce.

I want to be very clear that this incredible expedition, as with all of the adventures we’ve undertaken in the past, receives absolutely none of the charity funds we raise for 2020 Vision Quest. We fund our own adventures and share them with the 2020 Vision Quest community for our enjoyment and in part as a testament to the Ability Awareness we suggest as we all reach for our Peak Potential, literal and figurative.

We believe our efforts should in all ways enhance the mission of 2020 Vision Quest and that our worthy message should indeed resonate around the world!

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26 Apr 14

By Randy Pierce

Hollis Elementary School presents 2020 Vision Quest with a generous donation of the proceeds from their talent show.

Hollis Elementary School presents 2020 Vision Quest with a generous donation of the proceeds from their talent show.

Recently the Hollis Upper Elementary School honored our charity with the donation of the funds they raised in their annual talent show, which amounted to an incredible $4,045. It is indeed an honor to be chosen as the recipient, particularly of a school and the students who experienced the school presentations we do at no charge that I consider at the heart of our mission.

The reality is that as a charity we must also raise funds, even as an all-volunteer staff. As an organization, we donate an excessive amount of hours and our own funds towards the mission; we do this because we believe our work will help raise funds for Guiding Eyes and NHAB and that those essential funds are necessary and deserving of our own gifts of time and money. That is part of what makes it so powerfully rewarding when a school chooses to give back to us in the process.

Randy presenting at Hollis Upper Elementary School.  2020 Vision Quest gives presentations all over the New England region and has touched the lives of thousands of students.

Randy presenting at Hollis Upper Elementary School. 2020 Vision Quest gives presentations all over New England and has touched the lives of thousands of students.

I rarely make a plea for donations as it’s not particularly my personal strength. Instead, I attempt to lead by example and create opportunities showcasing why 2020 Vision Quest is worthy of your support. There is an excellent FAQ, which answers many questions regarding our organization.

The key highlights include:

  • We are a 501(c)(3) organization and so all donations may be tax deductible
  • We are an all-volunteer organization
  • The funds we raise are dispersed equally between Guiding Eyes for the Blind and N.H.A.B. while allowing us to continue our presentations to schools and non-profit organizations.

It’s a three-way win when you donate to 2020 Vision Quest!

Training of a young girl in front of a washing machine.

NHAB provides many services to the visually impaired, including training.

I’ll highlight below some of the means you can make a difference, and I’d hope especially that you’ll consider making a donation right now if possible. Soon we will give our annual disbursement. While we’ve grown each year in our ability to support our charities, I am keenly aware that this year I have benefited greatly from the continuing mission of Guiding Eyes in their $45,000 gift of the Awesome Autumn ($45,000 being the amount it takes to train a Guide Dog from start to finish, which they provide at no cost to the visually impaired).

 

Guiding Eyes for the Blind provides Guide Dogs at no charge to the visually impaired, as they did this year with Autumn, Randy's new Guide Dog.

Guiding Eyes for the Blind provides Guide Dogs at no charge to the visually impaired, as they did this year with Autumn, Randy’s new Guide Dog.

Now is the time you can help us ensure that donation may resonate as powerfully as we believe our school programs resonate throughout New England. I hope you’ll express your appreciation for what we do either directly now or in any of the more long term ways listed below:

  • Donate Now  to help our immediate goal
  • Join or Donate to our 2020 Vision Quest NHAB Walk Team for Saturday, June 7
  • Save the Date for Peak Potential our Annual Dinner and Auction on November 22, 2014
  • Share this blog to help us enhance our outreach
  • Continue to be an active part of our community on social media and beyond

Thank you for all that you do to help ensure we may continue to have the powerful impact we believe is possible!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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