Tag: Outreach



27 Sep 14

By Randy Pierce

Many people managing vision loss are uncomfortable with the word “blind.” Whether it’s a more horrific imagined final stop of their journey or some other reason, I’ve had enough conversations to understand the challenge some have in the term, far more than terminology of “visually impaired,” “sight-challenged,” or many others.

The reality for them is that change is difficult. I remember in my early transition how unsettling I found it to be labeled and to be different. I recall the many looks of pity from those who would part like the Red Sea as I tapped my cane along and learned to use the little vision I had to my best ability. I remember viewing (no pun intended) that as only “a little vision,” until I gradually came to have none left at all; my total blindness helped me realize how much perspective impacts our evaluation of everything. The truth is that it hurt to see reactions of others even as I was battling my own acceptance.

To my discredit, as soon as I’d learned to scan well enough with the limited vision I had before total blindness, I broke my white cane over my knee and threw it out. Why the emotional assault on the cane? It was a symbol of my feeling less than complete, inferior, and the warning sign for everyone else to see and realize that same notion. I’ve come a long way in acceptance and managing blindness with a bit more grace but I had a rough start and still have more bad moments than I wish.

So whether you are managing a transition yourself or know someone who is struggling with any facet of their life, please know it is hard and will often include some rougher moments. It can get better and everyone can have a hand in the improvement. For those in the midst of challenge, learn all you can about your challenge and how others before you may have succeeded. It’s a great way to begin the essential forward-moving work that’s at the heart of turning a challenge towards the positive.

For those wishing to better understand and help, do both of those things the best way possible. Consider the obvious and the subtle ways your interactions may impact someone. Treat them as close to your typical approach as possible and respect them as you ask what if anything you might do to help them. Well intended but unexpected help has walked me into a few doors, bumped a few heads, and made me feel I was thought of in a lesser way even when I knew the intent was so positive. Give encouragement, support, and accountability in equal measure but most of all give good exploration into truly understanding the reality of the challenge and the help which is wanted and necessary.

I strive to emphasize Ability Awareness and the notion we can solve problems to reach any destination that is important enough for us to be worth the perseverance required. In the midst of the challenge or transition, though, it is often hard to begin thinking of what we have ahead of us as we become tangled in how much we’ve lost. I have been there, will be there again I’m sure, and yet I know I can also come to an understanding and move forward again. Any of us may, though it helps if you are as well surrounded by people who are willing to share that approach and belief. This is true whether you are visually impaired, blind, or facing any of the multitude of challenges all of us will likely confront in our lives. The choice of how to respond is entirely up to you.

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6 Sep 14

By Randy Pierce

“People will forget what you say and what you do long before they will forget how you made them feel”
– Maya Angelou

Randy and Autumn present at Interlakes High School.

Randy and Autumn present at Interlakes High School.

Our first school presentation of the new academic year was a pair of presentations at Interlakes High School. We began at 7:30 am with a presentation to the entire freshman class of 85 students as they explored concepts of goal setting, cooperation, community, and perseverance. Their attention was highly focused and intense with eager responses to questions and challenges provided to them.

After a brief break with some inspired sharing, the 300 students representing sophomores through seniors arrived for another hour-long presentation which used the challenges of goal setting and adversity management as a means for reaching each of their own individual peak potential. Once again rapt attention, thunderous applause and moving testimonials highlighted the experience–yet the underlying motivation was probably far more hidden to most.

These seniors had been given a presentation in the fall of 2011 and this was a repeat of the revised programs available on our For Educators. They had overwhelmingly reported how much the messages had resonated for them and how grateful they were to reconnect with the message and methods as they begin their final year of high school. It was a powerful reminder to me just how worthy an impact we may have on students’ lives.

Randy and Autumn with an Interlakes teacher.

Randy and Autumn with an Interlakes teacher.

As students file out of the auditorium after a presentation, it is not uncommon for a thank you, handshake, or testimonial to be shared. Sometimes those points are what motivate me to work harder, encourage the 2020 team to understand the value of our work, and to expand our outreach to bring more students to our message. It is uplifting to hear the emotionally laden appreciation from students and often some staff surprises.

Such was the case when a teacher shared with the entire student body that a hiking story I had told about whether we focus on our feet upon a trail or the entire experience around us led to some changes and insight for her own life. This had so much impact that she embraced a few personal challenges from that day forward on the trails and in her life.

One such challenge culminated in a challenge she made to her fellow teachers. She refused to accept her technological limitations as she sought how to bring the perfect means to unite all teachers in sharing daily a positive experience which would uplift all of them each day. She found a mobile app to accomplish this and launched the school-wide program the day before our arrival to a resounding success in the young school year. Meanwhile all the students were challenged to set goals for September which would be reviewed as they learned skills around “positive adversity” and aiso reviewing the rewards our talks present for understanding challenges in a different way.

When you know you are changing lives and people share this with your project, it becomes the most powerful motivation. The 2020 Vision Quest team does many wonderful acts of community service. All have equal value and measure to those who receive them. The people who are touched by our message and in turn choose to touch our lives give us the inspiration, motivation, and dedication to continue our work. Thank you Interlakes and many future schools for inspiring our efforts to continue!

Autumn takes a well-deserved rest after a job well-done.

Autumn takes a well-deserved rest after a job well-done.

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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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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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