Vision Beyond Sight – Randy’s TEDx Talk

By Randy Pierce

I am thrilled to have been invited to provide a TEDx Talk and certainly believe the result is a video well worth watching. I deliver several of the more poignant messages I believe are simply valuable to any of us in our lives. I share a few of the more fun anecdotal demonstrations of those messages and the comfort with which I can present to any audience. The conference theme emphasized “community” while my presentation put its focus primarily upon “Reaching our Peak Potential.”

“…it rocked the entire audience of 130 people. There were farmers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, artists from young to old… Everyone felt that Randy was talking to them. It was a profound experience.”
– Celeste Barr, Beaver Brook Association

I hope all of you reading this are already aware that we provide corporate presentations and keynote addresses. I also hope you will consider sharing this with every appropriate business and organization who might benefit from having us visit. We believe that the success of our charity directly depends on our ability to earn an honorarium to 2020 Vision Quest by providing such presentations. We are confident it’s a great value and significant benefit to those who attend our presentations as well as ensuring the work we do with students will continue. It must all begin with the choice you make to refer us or invite us to such presentation opportunities.

Once you experience our TEDx Talk above and realize how many more messages we will deliver powerfully to each presentation, I hope you won’t delay in helping us with this outreach. It’s simply an idea worth sharing, which is the motto of TED. Given that, I’ll leave you with the mission statement for TED and simply share how very proud and fortunate I feel for being a part of the TEDx community. Thank you to TEDx Amoskeag Millyard and to many others who have believed in the benefit of my presentations. I hope you too will be part of that team.

The TED Talk  Mission: Spread ideas

TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On TED.com, we’re building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other, both online and at TED and TEDx events around the world, all year long.

 

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Now is the Time to Peak with us!

By Randy Pierce

Tickets are now available for our Sixth Annual Peak Potential Dinner and Auction!

When: Saturday, November 14, 2015
Where: Puritan Backroom ConferenceCenter
245 Hooksett Road
Manchester, NH 03104 

Attendees have fun at the Peak Potential 2014!
Attendees having fun at the Peak Potential 2014!

Our Peak Potential Dinner and Auction is so very much more than an incredible celebration, it is the essential event for our achieving a successful year. We have already reached over 42,000 students, donated over 124,00.00 to Guiding Eyes for the Blind and the New Hampshire Association for the Blind while creating a tremendous amount of awareness through our many achievements and accomplishments. The honors and accolades have been incredible and yet the heart of our work is the community we build and share together. This is the time to bring all of you together to celebrate and support our vision!

So save the date, or better still, purchase your ticket(s) or table right away! It’s so easy to put this aside for a bit where it might be forgotten, but it’s so beneficial to us and you to make that choice right now! In fact, purchasing a table from now until August 14 will get you the absolute lowest price for a table/ticket and help ensure our event success. Our sponsors and auction donors are treasured partners we continue to grow and they are always encouraged by our history of selling out, the sooner the better!

Last year's Peak Potential staff
Peak Potential staff 2014. This year, friends both new and old join our Peak Potential staff!

My dear and cherished friend Kim Kett-Johnson shared her experience at last year’s event on our blog: Paying it Forward. What should you expect of your experience this year? We’ve grown our team of event volunteers, changed to an exciting new venue and I have personally taken on the role of coordinating this event. It will as always be a fun and festive environment which provides a night out amongst like-minded friends from many different aspects of supporting the 2020 Vision Quest. With the full venue entirely for our use and filled with such a community of support, we’ll ensure the thousands of hours given annually to our cause continue to change the world around us in positive and powerful ways.

Beautiful art at Peak Potential 2013 silent auction
Our silent auction items are some of our biggest draws.

The Peak Potential team has already begun to collect auction items that are the central feature of this event. Last year we had spirited live and silent auctions at the event, which we plan to continue as it generated some fantastic activity. We look forward to posting all the amazing items donated by local individuals and businesses on Facebook for you all to preview before the event.

As always, if you or a connection of yours might be interested in donating to our auction, we would love to hear from you! Email Sarah Toney.

Whether you are part of our often-returning community or new to the Peak Potential event, we will do everything we can to ensure you the best experience possible. If you are unable to join us for the evening, there are still so many things you can do to help ensure our success. Whether connecting us to a sponsor or donor directly or sharing the opportunity of this event and/or our charity, you can be  an essential part of our progress forward.

I welcome and encourage any and all questions, comments and feedback. Thank you for all the incredible support in the past and I hope we continue to earn your support going forward while providing the opportunity to celebrate great community and an ever growing list of accomplishments we achieve together.

Randy Pierce
President of 2020 Vision Quest

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Save the Date! 6th Annual Peak Potential, November 14

By Randy Pierce

Save the Date: Saturday, November 14, 2015
New Venue: Puritan Conference Center, Manchester NH

The Sixth Annual Peak Potential Dinner and Auction is a gala event which is the largest yearly fundraiser to support the work of 2020 Vision Quest. After five fantastic years at the Derryfield, we are moving just a few miles away to a venue which will better meet the needs of our ever growing event. We’ll be keeping all the same best aspects of our event, but we’ll have more space and exclusive access to the venue which increases our ability to make it even better.

I am confident the additions to our volunteer staff, the venue change, and an incredibly exciting year of accomplishments could make this the best event yet. We need you, our incredibly supportive community, to continue to help us grow and strengthen this most important event. Save the date and return to our website for more information coming very soon!

Randy Pierce
Founder and President of 2020 Vision Quest

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Peak Potential planning starts soon and we need help. Can you? Will you?

By Randy Pierce

Attendees having fun at the Peak Potential gala in 2014.
Attendees having fun at the Peak Potential gala in 2014.

Five successful years of hosting our Annual Peak Potential Charity Dinner and Auction has provided tremendous financial benefit to our very worthy charitable work. We have given more than $124,000 directly to Guiding Eyes for the Blind and the New Hampshire Association for the Blind. We have presented to more than 36,000 students in schools throughout New England and beyond and we have been repeatedly lauded for making a positive impact in the lives of so many more people.

We do this with an all-volunteer staff who are committed to seeing the work continue. Many of these incredible staff members have worked double duty in the regular work of the charity as well as for the Peak Potential event each November. For this event to continue to be successful, we need to find a few more enthusiastic and motivated people to join the effort. Peak Potential planning begins soon, so please consider joining our team! Contact me at Randy@2020visionquest.org if you are interested.

What is needed? There are several opportunities.

Our auction items are one of our biggest draws.
Our auction items are one of our biggest draws.

Event Coordinator: This detail-oriented person would coordinate the event logistics–working with the venue before the event, managing timelines, managing the flow onsite, etc. Erin Desmarais took over for Rachel Morris last year and brought many great new approaches to us. She wishes to return as an active part of the team but with a new job cannot commit to coordinating the event this year. If we don’t get someone to fulfill this role, it might be possible for me to add this to my own somewhat overloaded schedule, but only with even stronger support in the position listed next.

Event Outreach: Sponsorships and quality auction donations are the key to the fiscal success of the event. We have a strong community of attendees and excellent event evening support. Realistically, we need three people who can support an active outreach to corporations, businesses. and appropriate individuals to sustain and hopefully expand our sponsors and auction. I know there are special individuals out there who could excel at this outreach–and it truly is essential to have this support in order to continue this event.

We want YOU on our Peak Potential staff! Will you help?
We want YOU on our Peak Potential staff! Will you help?

There are certainly other opportunities and I’m eager to talk with anyone who is hopeful to join or support our charity work. So if the above entices you because you believe in our cause, want the possible resume enhancements, or simply want to be part of a fun team, drop me an email. If you have other ideas for how to help, then similarly reach out to me. I appreciate how many have helped us accomplish so much already and look forward to the people with whom we might reach higher still. We would love to continue the Peak Potential Event, the biggest fundraiser for the 2020Vision Quest charity, and I hope to have your help!

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Paying it forward: Thoughts on Peak Potential 2014

By Kim Kett Johnson

On Saturday night my husband Todd and I were fortunate enough to attend our 5th Peak Potential dinner and auction put on by 2020 Vision Quest and our friend Randy Pierce. We have attended all of the Peak Potential dinners over the past five years. Let’s face it, when you have three small children, having an annual event where you get to go out as a couple, dress up a little, and see many friends, all while supporting a fantastic cause is something we look forward to every year. I’d like to highlight a couple of the things I love most about the event.

Group photo of Randy and his fraternity brothers reuniting for a fun evening out.
Randy and his fraternity brothers reunite each year at Peak Potential for a fun social evening.

The social part: Randy Pierce and I have been friends since 1986. I see Randy and speak to Randy outside of the Peak Potential event, but every year at Peak Potential I reconnect with many other people who are mutual friends to Randy and me.

Many of these friends of ours are Randy’s fraternity brothers. Last night there were 18 brothers there so assuming each had a +1 that is 36 seats at the dinner that were there because of the brotherhood they share with Randy and with each other. A lot of people do not understand the bond and camaraderie of being in a fraternity or sorority but 30 years later the outpouring of support Randy’s fraternity brothers give him is fantastic to watch. This is definitely one of my favorite parts of the night. I was lucky enough last night to see a couple of my sorority sisters and my great friend and first roommate. We were all brought together by this wonderful event.

Kim gets into the spirit of the event by making a bid on silent auction items.
Kim gets into the spirit of the event by making a bid on silent auction items.

The philanthropic part: 2020 Vision Quest and Randy Pierce’s vision has grown to where he has introduced his message of true vision and believing in yourself despite adversity, to 34,000 students since the organization was started. How many of us can say we have touched the lives of tens of thousands of students over a few years? He is not stopping there. Randy spends his days traveling to any school that will have him in many states. All the efforts of Randy and 2020 Vision Quest benefit the organizations “Guiding Eyes for the Blind” and “The NH Association for the Blind”. Both of these organizations helped Randy in his darkest days when his vision of what his life would be like was much different than it is now. 2020 Vision Quest is the definition of “Paying It Forward.”

Everyone at Peak Potential pays for the dinner, bids on silent auction items, buys raffle tickets, bid on live auction items and some playfully bid against each other on bigger ticket items. It is a real tribute to Randy and what he and the 2020 Vision Quest organization has built as to how many people come out every year. Whether you have attended a Peak Potential before or are reading this and thinking about attending next year, I will see you there!

 Puppy dressed up with cuffs and bowtie
The next generation of Guide Dogs wants to know: Will we see you next year?

All photos courtesy of Kevin and Heather Green Photography.

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The time is now for your part in our Fifth Annual Peak Potential!

By Randy Pierce

Fairway Mortgage with their auction item: an inspirational picture of Quinn.
Fairway Mortgage at Peak Potential 2013 posing with their newly purchased auction item: an inspirational picture of Quinn.

November 22 we will host our Fifth Annual Peak Potential Event and with so little time left much of the preparation is done. However, there’s always time for one more sponsor, donor, or attendee to help bring the event to just a little higher pinnacle of success! Will it be you? Your company? Your friend or other close connection?

I know it will be me and the hardworking volunteers who put this event together. I truly hope you might all consider how you too might help us continue the great work we continue to achieve in this our fifth year!

Why am I particularly excited about this year’s event? Well, each event we’ve had just a bit more success and last year we were astounded by how high you helped us set the bar. I love a good challenge and while I’ve fallen down (literally!) a time or two in the process, I will always continue to get up and find a way to strive forward when I’m as confident as I am about the value and need for our work. We are still on the verge of our third consecutive sell-out and we have ensured more space for all the tables and less background noise to allow us all to really come together as a community.

That’s so much of what our work is about I wanted to take you on a tour of our past events and invite you to become part of this year’s success going forward! So drop me an email and join this year’s effort now or simply visit our event website.

Thank you and I hope to hear from you real soon – the time is now!

Read about some of our previous Peak Potential events:

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Just an Autumn Day in the Life

Randy sitting with Autumn curled at his feet.
Randy sitting with Autumn curled at his feet

By Randy Pierce

Today is Tuesday, September 9 – at least it is as I write this. After posting a couple of topic options on my Facebook feed the results quickly suggested people might prefer to get a glimpse into an ordinary day. While it’s not quite the Autumn day I suggest, in this house, every day is an Autumn day.

Still groggy from our late Monday night Hudson Lions Club meeting, the alarm tones at 5 a.m. since Tracy needs to be out early to avoid the traffic on her way to Duvine Bicycle Adventures in Somerville, MA. That’s all the signal Autumn needs to announce that her face licking, tail wagging energy will unleash upon me should I not begin the day with a trip outside for her needs and then her breakfast. This day, like many, will have a cup of coffee included as I sit by the computer and check messages to ensure the day is still on track. So why not join us for the day?

5:30 a.m.  Autumn relieved and fed first, then water, with banana and a quick breakfast for me at the PC. How many emails can I manage before the next tasks call?

6:00 a.m.  Dynamic warm-up and stretch in preparation for run training.

6:30 a.m.  5.45 mile run with Mary Guiding me and Autumn sulking at home.

7:30 a.m.  Shower and second breakfast for this calorie-counting (albeit tall) hobbit in training.

8:30 a.m.  Prioritize the To Do list which today includes:

  1. Response to Rick Stevenson on 2020 Vision Quest front page layout change in progress: School’s Back, Pet Tales E-book, Tuff Mudder, Corporate Presentation, TED Talk, UNH Award, Miles4Quinn and such!
  2. Response to Peak Potential auction donation.
  3. NHAB strategic planning update for Board of Directors.
  4. Sneak in a New England Patriot news update.
  5. Coordinate run training for rest of week.
  6. Finalize notes for Bank of NH keynote presentation scheduled for Thursday 9/11.
  7. Follow up on Kilimanjaro Preparations as team met on Mt. Monadnock last weekend and a few new members are being included. (Today is likely one year to the day from when we will summit Kilimanjaro, the tallest stand-alone mountain in the world. That’s pretty significant to me in many ways but a sign of just how every seemingly ordinary day can be connected to some very significant days as we choose to live our life in whatever experiences call to us.)
  8. Work with Sarah Toney via email to ensure 2020 Vision Quest social media plans are on track and she has the information she needs to best help our charity efforts online.
  9. Call Mom at her hospital room to coordinate her physical therapy plans and possibility of going home by end of week.
  10. Start draft of blog for Beth Foote and open up topic to Facebook.
  11. Check Status of Apple Watch in my search for a fully accessible wearable fitness device.
  12. Propose a new fundraising idea that has been on hold to a potential volunteer while giving an edit to a student’s note about what they believe we do as a 2020 Vision Quest team.
Autumn at play running with a toy.
Autumn at play.

11:00 a.m.  Hey, where is the day going? Start laundry, water and relieve Autumn who is impatient and deservedly so. Take a 2-mile walk to appease the girl, my legs and our practice time together as training with a Dog Guide is an every day opportunity to learn and grow as a team. Today’s challenge was wanting more time outside as the weather is beautiful. I suspect I’m not alone in this.

12:00 p.m.  Autumn follows the Quinn rules of “Playment plans!” This means after every bit of harness work we break out a toy and reward her with play. She is eager and energetic while I’m thinking about my own lunch (see hobbit comment from above!)

1:00 p.m.  Back to the computer for more work. I’ll spare you the details save that Apple’s info release is followed via Twitter feed on my iPhone. This makes my work a little distracted but 2020 Vision Quest usually involves 10 hours of work for me during the day. We interrupted to confirm the consult with Mom’s medical team and plan her return trip home on Friday afternoon.

4:00 p.m.  Feed, water and relieve the Autumn after a play session entirely intended to break me away from work mode. A burst of home chores to precede Tracy’s arrival and set the stage for our various discussions of the evening. While Tracy will have her own run training evening plans, I must research the weekend’s hike of Mt. Chocorua, a potential first-time yoga class on Friday, our “Iso-Abs” workout for tonight and the plan for our Peak Potential Dinner and Auction meeting on Sunday.

Autumn lies on top of Randy, pinning him to the floor.
Autumn shows Randy the price for lying down on the job!

Usually around 100 new emails will arrive during the day, requiring me to sort and respond as appropriate for the scheduling and planning of school and corporate presentations as well as general charity management. All this and it’s voting day here in our home city of Nashua, NH. Tired, well be careful lying down as there’s plenty ahead with an impending Autumn season… as well as an exuberant Dog Guide who needs to ensure I know the price of lying down on the job!

You want real updates on any of those topics? That would take an entire blog post for each and the days ahead will no doubt include such so stay connected to us in all the ways possible and thanks for coming along with me today!

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Who is on your team?

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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A Peak at this year’s “Potential”

By Randy Pierce and Erin DesMarais

Randy with Quinn at Peak Potential 2013
Randy and the Mighty Quinn at Peak Potential 2013.

Randy here. I’d like to announce our Fifth Annual Peak Potential Dinner and Auction!

Save the Date: November 22, 2014
6:30pm

Or better still, purchase your ticket or table now.

This event has developed into an incredible experience and our signature event. It is our single largest fundraiser which enables us to undertake the incredible work we do as an organization. I believe we’ve made several decisions to improve the event and now we need all of you to continue your incredible support which has made Peak Potential and 2020 Vision Quest so successful.

Rather than me telling you all of the ways this event may be even better, let me introduce you to Erin DesMarais, a good friend and the new volunteer coordinator determined to continue and even advance the great work started by Rachel Morris, creator of Peak Potential. Erin no doubt will want to share some of the big news for our event!


We had a sold-out crowd last year!
We had a sold-out crowd last year!

Hi everyone! This is Erin, and I am honored that Randy and the 2020 Vision Quest team allowed me to take on the task of driving the planning efforts for Peak Potential this year. I have known Randy for almost a decade, and I have always been inspired by his positive attitude and refusal to let something as insignificant as lack of sight get in his way. To me, Peak Potential is a celebration of the pioneering spirit that Randy encourages in every single person he meets. I hope you will consider joining us this November to be part of this celebration.

Beautiful art at Peak Potential 2013 silent auction
Beautiful art at Peak Potential 2013 silent auction.

The Peak Potential team has already begun to collect auction items that are the central feature of this event. Last year we had spirited live and silent auctions at the event, which we plan to continue as it generated some fantastic activity. We look forward to posting all the amazing items donated by local individuals and businesses on Facebook for you all to preview before the event. As always, if you or a connection of yours might be interested in donating to our auction, we would love to hear from you! Email Sarah at sarah@2020visionquest.org.

Tribute picture of Quinn
Our tribute picture of Quinn was one of our most popular auction items in 2013.

We hope to sell out dinner tickets once again this year, as well as bring in new partner sponsors, and host a fantastic party for you all. After listening to your feedback in the post-event surveys, we’ve decided to forego the live music this year in favor of providing more opportunities and more space for social interaction. We also look forward to generating even more funding for our charities: the NH Association for the Blind and Guiding Eyes for the Blind. These organizations do so much for the vision-impaired community in the northeast, and without them Randy’s life may have been very different. In honor of Randy, the 2020 Vision Quest team, and everyone who has supported Peak Potential through the years, I am going to put my all towards making this year’s event a success.

Welcome, Awesome Autumn!
Welcome, Awesome Autumn!

As Randy mentioned, tickets are now on sale here. This brand new event website has all the event details and will showcase our partner sponsors and auction items as we get closer to November 22nd. Tables of 8 are just $500 until September 1 – get some friends together and make a night of it!

Bonus: this will be the Peak Potential debut of Autumn, Randy’s newest guide and my close, personal friend! OK, we’ve only spent one afternoon together, so “close, personal friend” might be an exaggeration, but I think she’s awesome.

I hope you will join us! You are welcome to contact me at erin@2020visionquest.org with any questions or comments.

 

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Spreading inspiration: The lessons of Peak Potential 2013

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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