Tag: Outreach



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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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.

 

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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!

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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!

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