Tag: Randy



9 Jun 18

By Randy Pierce

A group of hikers on a mountain summit with a partly cloudy sky behind them.I joined the students of this leadership and backpacking course in the spring of 2010 in preparation for my own hiking adventures and to provide an untypical aspect for those students. Those experiences and friendships left a significant imprint upon me and I continued to be involved in different ways through the years since then. This year Brent asked me to act as the TA for the class and we went through the appropriate approvals, hoping my many experiences in hiking, leadership, and communication would provide positive guidance in the classroom and along the trails.

Day 1: We set out on May 21 with my legs being a little weary from the Gate City Marathon the day before and my pack a little heavy as I was carrying Autumn’s sleeping bag and food along with all of my own supplies. The two student leaders of the day, Brian and Sam had provided us walkie-talkies to keep communications open in our two vehicles as we approached the trailhead for our first day’s hike into Wachipauka Pond.

Hikers with full packs walk on a rocky trail. As usual Autumn spent the first 100 yards being a little too enthusiastic and I had to mitigate her enthusiasm with my own enhanced caution as my right hand trekking pole work was emphasized. Quickly she settled into high quality trail work and I was very proud as on the hot day and steady climb she simply shined in work and obvious love for the wilderness. I spent the early part near the back with Brian behind me as sweeper, ensuring the group was together and ahead of him. As we began our first descent we switched to a little trail entertainment by partnering up, me with Caitlin, to talk about our day and trip goals with each other. It was a chance to begin building better connections and worked rather nicely. Ultimately as we reached a series of “bog bridges.” Autumn and I worked them tediously but Caitlin had the opportunity to help by becoming the first student to choose a little human guiding. She set the tone for many others later and we worked the short stretch of trail building the guide language for a comfortable pace and quality interaction.

In short order, our shortest day brought us to Wachipauka Pond. The temperatures were ideal, the scene as majestic as previous trips promised, and for a time we just relaxed and enjoyed the remote serenity earned by an afternoon of trail work together. My SteriPEN water purifier refused to light as the single downside of my evening preparations, but Brent and the team found ways to help Autumn and me have purified water for the trip. The leaders brought the team together and bear bags were hung, tarps for sleeping and cooking were established and an idyllic evening descended complete with one of the sunset gifts those who experience them in the White Mountains usually treasure for the rest of their days. We had a couple of meetings to close out our activity before sleeping open to the air with the sounds of the pond and the likely moose who traipsed belligerently within 50 yards of our campsite and left his marks for us to find in the morning.

Rocky trail with a blue sky behind it.Day 2: Samm and Anthony were our leaders. (This “Samm” was male, vs. the female “Sam” who led on day 1.) Anthony was taking a bonus leadership day to fill in for our first casualty as Chloe had an illness requiring her to miss the trip. We started out with a steady upward climb to the Webster Slide summit and a beautiful overlook, our first official “peak” of the trip. We did a little stretching as a group and had a lot more interactions amongst the team as both Bridget and Emma took some turns guiding me to supplement the great work being done by Autumn as well. Down is simply always easier with a human guide and there were some fun challenge points along this route. We made excellent time to cross a road and make a significant water crossing which included an educational moment for the various methods of safer water crossing. Autumn showcased multiple crossings until a stick enticement convinced her to go all the way over and be held there awaiting my cross.

There is a point in most hikes where conversations bring teams together and as the rain held off for us, the trail was generally gentle, we came together decently. Just to enhance the scenario of challenge, a “fake” broken arm practice was added to the leader challenge and still we arrived to the Jeffers Brook Shelter ahead of schedule and feeling strong despite the rain joining our group. Several of us made use of the shelter and had a few AT through and section hikers to enhance the evening conversations. The evening debrief was a supportive and encouraging preparation for what most expected to be our most challenging day.

Sign pointing to various trails including Glencliff Trail 0.9 milesDay 3: Bridget and Anthony had us up at 5 with light traces of the rain still falling. Brent was ill and that complicated the start, as did our plan to hike a short distance to a car spot where we would have breakfast and adjust some equipment for the remaining trip. This was more important, as Brent’s medical device had lost its charge and the back-up battery wasn’t working. As my water purification system had seemingly failed, Brent was my support and my cook partner so both of us became a delay for the group. At the car Brent charged his device, we repacked, and set out for the Glencliff trail and Mt. Moosilauke!

Because of the low water aspects, I had my heaviest water load, and below Glencliff the trail gets a little boulder-strewn. Due to this, after the steady steepness we reached a section of trail which was particularly hard work for Autumn and me. At this point I shared my struggle to keep the group pace and for a short time switched to Emma guiding me to bolster both of us for a bit. Then Samm took his first shift to handle the long steady steep up to and over the headwall of Moosilauke with us pushing well into the full hunger-almost-hangry range for the team. A well earned lunch below south peak recharged us for the glorious ridge walk which Autumn handled once again until we emerged in the boulder fields and alpine zone where Brent guided as we all managed an impressive 40 mph wind for our spectacular summit reward!

Our goal for the day was Beaver Brook Shelter and so a fair bit of hiking remained. The trail involved some particularly precarious sections and due to Brent’s overall health concerns, he needed to be free of guiding. The students realized Autumn and I would be slow on this track and so took the challenging load for a strenuous section concluding with a considerable amount of snow/monorail hiking led by Sam, working some impressive final descents to the much celebrated shelter. It was a very weary team debrief, proud of the accomplishments and having fully come together to work through all the challenges and fully understand the many ways of supporting each other. Our AT section hiker had made the journey with us and surprised some by sharing that in his 23 years of section hiking the Appalachian Trail, this was his hardest day ever.

Bright sunrise on Day 4 of the hike. Day 4: Our fourth and final day began with the most powerful sunrise of the trip. We faced out over the Kinsmans, the Lafayette ridge, and the presidentials beyond with the sun rising to give the layered mountains a particularly majestic splendor few will ever forget. Caitlin and Emma were our leaders of the day. Brent had experienced his roughest night and was resolutely tending himself to overcome a difficult start. It was crisp and cold at our 3800 feet of elevation and Autumn wisely chose to curl up with our AT companion as he was the last one in a sleeping bag once we had all packed and prepared for departure. We set out as quickly as possible to retrace some of our prior evening’s steps up before descending steadily down through an old forest. It was part of a long-ago Dartmouth ski trail from an era when skiing involved no turns other than what the trail made!

Some of the terrain was more difficult than anticipated and trail games had the group laughing and entertained while I was in full concentration. On a particularly rough trail, I rolled an ankle on a shifting rock more seriously than usual, which resulted in a rare fall for me. The mirth of the group would be essential as would Brent’s high focus guidance to ease my hobbling worked out the long miles still remaining. When the trail eased by our stream crossing and gentle footing allowed us to pick up pace and find the Ravine Lodge for reward, a weary but satisfied group had once again undergone the transformative process of such hikes.

Leadership, guidance, and the richly rewarding wilderness experience were certainly all part of the process. For Autumn and me, we had bonded well with the people of this trip and it was easy at times to forget the decades of difference in our ages because of the commonality of our experience. There is a sadness to the ending and knowing we will never have the same group together to experience all of the varied powerful moments we did share. There is, however, much reward in knowing we grew together, shared together and all of us, student, teacher, and Autumn extraordinaire experienced individual growth on our journey towards personal peaks. I’ll take the growth and the memories and the solace of knowing the choice to be on the path is the most rewarding one of all.

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2 Jun 18

By Amy Till, Vice President, Strengths Now, Inc.

This blog is reprinted from the original version on Strengths Now. 

The quintessential 2020 Vision Quest image with Quinn guiding Randy up the steep, snowy, craggy summit of Mt. Monroe. Quinn’s golden muzzle basks majestically against the blue sky background illuminated by the sunshine while he patiently pauses for Randy, one hand on the harness, one hand on the snow as he struggles up the final slope to the summit!

Randy and Quinn on Mt. Monroe.

Strengths, Leadership and Resilience: Meet Randy Pierce, President and Founder, 2020 Vision Quest

Randy Pierce is an impactful keynote speaker and accomplished athlete who founded and manages a successful nonprofit organization. He runs marathons, has hiked all the 4000+ feet peaks in the New Hampshire White Mountains and has been known to participate in extreme sporting events like Tough Mudder. And he is completely blind.

Randy’s top five talent themes are Responsibility, Woo, Connectedness, Includer and Restorative.

Randy, thank you for sharing your strengths with us today! To get us started, tell us about your work and your organization.

I am the president of 2020 Vision Quest. Our goal is to inspire people to reach beyond adversity and discover all they CAN do. I lead by example and share my experiences to motivate and inspire others. I speak regularly at schools, corporations, and everything in between – from large industry conferences to small scout troops. The money raised supports two non-profit organizations: Future in Sight and the internationally renowned Guide Dogs for the Blind. In the eight years since inception we have given over a quarter of a million to charities. So far this year we have raised over $90,000.

What was your first reaction to your strengths report?  

I felt like my top-five really fit and I relate to all of them. I was entirely unsurprised by the order and by what was included. The Strengths Insight Report absolutely surprised me for its uncanny accuracy. This played an important role for me, because the tool really earned my confidence. As a result, I was motivated to think deeply about my results and give good consideration to the impact of my strengths.

Which of your strengths do you relate to most strongly?

Responsibility and Includer are the themes that stand out most strongly to me. Woo is also a big part of me, and I am comfortable with it, but it did sound a bit like a snake oil salesman at first. Restorative defines how I adapt to challenges and Connectedness fits because I am very aware of how one person’s actions can have great impact on another’s experience. 

During my life I have been fortunate enough to benefit from a process that allowed me to have significant regrowth, and I feel such appreciation. My Responsibility motivates me to propagate that experience and help others. I felt powerless and helpless when I went blind. I was able to shift that with guidance and direction from others. I know how hard that can be and I am compelled to help others.  

The very first 4,000+ feet climb I did with my guide dog was Mt. Hale. This mountain was named after The Reverend Edward Hale who famously said, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” This has been great inspiration to me. I cannot do everything, but I am going to do my part. What CAN I do? What tools do I have to help me? My Responsibility drives me to do that which I can do. 

I know firsthand that one of the best ways to feel better is to help others (Includer, Connectedness). I still have days when I feel bad, but helping others is part of how I manage my own life and feelings. It is altruism? Is it self-servicing? It is both. You can choose what you do and how you do it. This reminds me of a powerful life moment that ultimately helped me lean into my Responsibility more. 

That sounds interesting. Are you willing to share it with us?

Absolutely. In May 1989 I was nearly 22 and I started to lose my eyesight. It was unexpected, and it happened quickly. When I was admitted to the hospital, I had a can-do kind of attitude. Just tell me what we need to do to deal with this and I will do it (Restorative). I easily made friends with the nursing staff (Includer, Connectedness, Woo). It soon became clear that there were no easy answers and that there was no path to restoring my vision. In my mind, success was not possible, and I just quit trying.

One of my nurses got a day pass and took me on her sailboat. She had an honest talk with me. She said I arrived at the hospital fun loving, gregarious and upbeat, and that it was easy for the nurses to work with me and do everything they could to help. She said that I had disconnected and closed them all out, but they were still going to help me. She wondered aloud if other people in my life were going to feel the same way if they met this new version of myself. She feared that others might step away from me, not go towards me, and she asked if I could make my way back to the person I was.

I’m sad to say I was annoyed with her at first, but I thought a lot about it. I wanted to change my behavior, but it was hard. We can logically know something, but our emotions are still there, right? In the hospital I got better with the nurses, but I stayed distant with friends, getting off the phone quickly when they called. I couldn’t do anything fun, so why would anyone want to be around me?  My family was too far away to visit. My girlfriend was overwhelmed and didn’t take my calls. I was isolated, bitter and angry. I knew I had to go through the stages of loss, but what could help me get headed in the right direction? How could I get out of this? 

Things slowly got better when I got home. I started reaching out and sharing my truth, opening up and making connections. And by doing this, I started to help other people. My Responsibility grew from that. I am not even sure Responsibility would have been in my top five prior to this experience. But now whenever people lean on me, it grows. It combines with my Includer and Connectedness, and okay, Woo, to drive me to do more for others.

Woo stands for Winning Others Over and you said you didn’t love it at first because it sounded a bit like a snake oil salesman to you. How do you use your Woo? 

I don’t intentionally try to influence people or win them over. That is not my objective, but I am aware that I do influence people. I want to relate to people and share my stories and experiences. I want them to take what matters to them and works for them or is helpful. I don’t approach my public speaking with, “here are the answers, here you go.” The reality is that my influence does exist, and I can tell from experience that it comes through to others in how I address a crowd, how I tackle challenges and how I live my life. I want it to be present and visible for others to choose to be influenced by – or not. That is how I put it out there.  

Do you think your blindness has caused you to rely on some strengths more than others? 

Complete blindness takes away all sight, and with that goes 80% of the way a typical person interacts with the world. All my skills of people interaction had to go up. One of the best things that blindness did for me is that it gave me a really good dose of humility. I was fresh out of school, had a great job as a hardware design engineer and had lots of things going my way. I hope I wasn’t arrogant, but I was closer to overconfident than humble. Losing my sight gave me perspective on the ease in which our world can change and our challenges can become different than we think. From this point forward, I had greater compassion for what others might be experiencing. I began to look through other people’s eyes, literally and figuratively, after that moment. 

How has blindness changed or impacted your strengths – as you perceive them? Do you ever wonder if your themes were the same before and after losing your sight?

Yes, I do wonder. There is no way for me to go back and take the assessment, but I suspect it would change because being blind has changed my brain. Parts that did sight processing now do language processing. I visualize everything internally with no external mnemonics. In my mind, people are feelings and attributes more than anything physical. Helen Keller, who was incredible, says the most beautiful things in the world we see with our hearts, not our eyes. I try to look at things this way too, though I still enjoy having someone describe a sunset to me. 

I don’t get to look at facial expressions, but my strengths give me candor! I will ask you anything, and I will do so with respect. If there is something I need to know, I will just ask. With my Connectedness and Woo, I can’t imagine not asking.

How have your strengths helped you in your role as the President and Founder of 2020 Vision Quest?

I have a great team of people who work with me, and I do a lot of the work myself too. My wife, Tracy, manages the finances, and I have staff and a board. With my Responsibility, I don’t let things slide. Connectedness and Includer keep me reaching out and building relationships. Woo is so important for all the public speaking and it helps me be comfortable sharing about myself and my accomplishments. Restorative comes into play when there are challenges. I am ready to solve problems and keep things moving forward.  

How do your strengths help you in your role as a keynote speaker?

When I step in front of a group to speak, in most situations I am the first blind person many people will encounter. I just assume people are going to be uncomfortable with me. In order to establish an effective learning environment, I need to put others at ease and in a very real way, win them over (Woo). I can’t see faces and body language, so I rely on sound to collect information about the audience. I listen to get a sense of the baseline of room from a distraction sense. When people are not attentive they shuffle, so I listen for that. I tell a few jokes and pay attention to what their laughs sound like. Different types of laughs can tell you things about the comfort level in a room. Most importantly I note the change in these laughs as we progress, so I can measure the impact I’m having on their comfort and engagement. 

I use my Restorative in these moments too. I need to know where the audience is, or I might rotate a little and no longer be facing them. I develop ways of orienting myself. I am not always at a podium, which can set you apart from the audience. If there is a stage behind me, I might orient by tapping my heel 

When I am at schools I make things as interactive as possible (Includer, Connectedness). I ask questions like, “What do you think a person who is blind might not be able to do?” This gets the students thinking and talking, which helps me achieve the all-important engagement of the students.

Your specific physical affliction could cause more difficulty for you at any time. How do you stay in the moment? Do you ever worry about your health?

Yes, I have an ongoing rare neurological disorder called chronic demyelinating polyneuropathy, which causes nerve damage. It can attack any part of the nervous system. There is no telling if or when the disease will progress nor what part of the body it might impact. There is no comfort in not knowing. My mindset is that I don’t like it, but I can’t immediately affect it. I have to avoid hypochondriac feelings. The disorder could affect any part of your system, so you don’t know what to look for. It could be intensely frustrating.  

Do any of your top five strengths themes help you stay in the moment?

There is a higher chance of a car accident than my neurological condition being my end, but I am not irresponsible about either of these things (Responsibility). There are plenty of good times and good experiences ahead, but I have already won. I choose to not live with the shadow of affliction darkening out present and future possibilities. This mindset has already let me have wonderful experiences and much success. To me this is demonstrable proof that I am taking the right approach. When I have a set-back, I am frustrated in the moment, but I find the new baseline and build from there (Restorative). And I have had incredible rewards from doing this. I am living life to the fullest.  

People always say when you are faced with adversity, you choose how you react. I like to take it a step further. WHAT we choose to do, the specific choice we make, will have a bigger impact on our life than our adversity. My choice of following all my dreams, hiking, founding a company, giving presentations, these are what impact my life – not my blindness, not my neurological disfunction. The specific choices I make impact my life and this is how I view it. 

I am 6’4’’ tall, have gray hair, and am blind, but the strengths at the top of my list have a phenomenally larger impact on my life than my height or sight. My choices, which involve continuing to use my strengths, are what defines my life and leads me to my success.

For more information on 2020 Vision Quest and Randy Pierce, visit 2020visionquest.org. Stay tuned for Randy’s upcoming book, which will be published later this year.

***

To learn more about Amy Till and Strengths Now, Inc. visit the Strengths Now website.

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19 May 18

By Randy Pierce

Lilacs already adorn the table in my home and their fragrance wafts through the air, bringing to me a little joy in remembrance. There is sadness as well, for there are new losses. As I get older there are so many anniversaries and Mother’s Day was definitely difficult as will be her approaching birthday. So many of my friends are grieving now for recent death of those dear to them. In this season of growth, lilacs, and remembrance, I share this fond recollection for the strength and hope I feel in reading and hope for the same in those who may share  similar feelings from the reminders.

When the Lilacs Bloom

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A young Randy kissing Modi.Today there is the fragrant scent of lilacs on the air. Just over five years ago on April 19, 2000, I said farewell to my most loyal and loving Modi. On that day, my family through Rick and Monique gave to me a lilac bush to plant in Modi’s honor. Modi had the chance to approve of the bush before it was planted since we had time to prepare for Modi’s passing and this was time for the most loving farewell I could imagine. Each June near to my birthday, the lilac offers forth its fragrant bouquet in full view of my bay window into the back yard. Each time I detect the distinctive fragrance, I take time to warmly reflect upon the great companionship shared by Modi and myself. I consider it a delightful tribute to a more great experience than some may ever know. Such is the way of those magnificent bonds we forge in our lives. There is of course tremendous sadness with their passing even as there is a stronger and more marvelous connection which will outshine the bitter sharpness of pain and grief when first we lose beloved friends. So on April 19, the leaves of the lilacs may begin the budding rebirth of spring time so that in Modi’s passing anniversary, I may feel the continued yearly power of life and the continued potency of those many loving memories. Now we are in the season when the normal lilacs bloom and upon my table sits a vase full of them lovingly cut by my mother to ensure I could share in the delightful reminder. As my birthday remains a few weeks ahead, the bush from Modi is just starting to bud flowers. His is a Miss Kim Lilac which delays long enough to give me an annual birthday gift from my boy. Yet amidst the scents of the present lilacs and the recollections of Modi comes a sharing time.

Ostend and Randy in full Patriots gear.Yesterday, May 24, 2005 at 5:54, my magnificent Ostend had the last beat of his heart while cradled in my lap. I laid in exactly the same room as I had with Modi some five years earlier and all the pains were equally sharp. Perhaps more so in that Ostend was a sudden and unexpected parting. Ostend had a tumor inside of his heart and it was bleeding steadily into his system. He was valiant and stoic to the end much like his counterpart in my Modi. While I know a myriad of marvels with each of these boys and while Ostend and I have a legacy of adventure in which our unique travels shall always hold fame for our worlds, this is the time in which pain and sorrowful grief must powerfully overwhelm what will eventually become the same warm reflection I share with the memory of Modi. I know I must honor his life and our companionship with the strength to strive towards those times and so shall I manage. I already feel the hope of looking forward to that time even as I know it is far too recent a wound to my own heart for such to be readily reached. Still I take some small comfort in knowing such will come.

Modi left me in the early precursors to springtime, when April showers begin the return to the lilac’s life. Ostend said farewell when that precursor of life has surged into the bountiful flowers. They each shared such a similar and pivotal part of my life and my love for each was never diminished by my love for the other. That is the marvelous gift of love that requires no rationing to share its splendor with all those whom are valued treasures in our world. I shall love them each continuously with the fervor which is our way together. When the lilacs bloom I shall be reminded of the love which never wavered from each of these companions. Though it is always with me and I will reflect often upon this love, I am simple enough to appreciate the value of symbols and the reminders of the world around me.

In respect and tribute to Ostend he shall have his own symbol. There is a place in front of my home which has called for a planting. To this location I shall build a small shrine with a marvelous plant as centerpiece. There is a blooming bush known as a “bleeding heart” which in my visual days was always a delight to me. In honor of his bleeding heart and the pain to my own heart, such shall be my tribute to Ostend as well. It blooms a bit later than the lilac and with this effort I will know that when my first boy Modi has sent the lilacs, they are a preparation as well for the bleeding heart approach of Ostend. Equally poignant will be the reminder that in the bleeding heart is a beauty and delight which although symbolic in some ways of the pain is likewise symbolic of the beauty which was so great as to allow such pain. This hurt will go to splendor of recollection in which our beautiful sharing is recalled fondly and with warmth. Each year I shall look forward to the world reminding me of my boys When the Lilacs Bloom.

I love you both my Modi and my Ostend.

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13 May 18

By Randy Pierce

Bank of NH logoWe are thrilled to announce the Bank of New Hampshire returns to be our Platinum Sponsor for the 9th Annual Peak Potential Gala! Our newest team member, Carolina Tumminelli, is on board to help your sponsorship opportunity be Peak Potential worthy.

I asked Carolina to announce the great news of Bank of New Hampshire choosing to join us as the event sponsor once again while sharing a bit about her motivations for joining us. I interrupt her guest blog briefly to thank Bank of New Hampshire, Carolina, and all our potential future sponsorships for the choice to partner with the Peak potential team. I certainly love and value the work we do with 2020 Vision Quest and one of the many gifts are the interactive experiences of working with tremendous  partners and teams. T.E.A.M. – Together Everyone Achieves More.

Learn more about how to become a sponsor of Peak Potential. 

Guest Blog — by Carolina Tumminelli

2020 Vision Quest Poster with Quinn and Randy on a winter slope, with the words "Climb Your Mountain" superimposed. Bank of New Hampshire logo at the bottom.Preparations are underway for our 9th Annual Peak Potential Dinner, our largest fundraising event of the year. We are pleased and honored to announce that Bank of New Hampshire has once again agreed to be our Platinum Sponsor for the 8th year in a row!  Their support of our cause, as well as yours, allows us to support the 2020 Vision Quest mission of inspiring people to reach beyond adversity and achieve their highest goals.

Through 9 years of Peak Potential, the team has been able to grow a strong community to provide incredible support, and it is with the help of Bank of New Hampshire, we continue to do so into 2018.

I’m also pleased to announce that I’ve joined Randy and the team in helping coordinate sponsorships for Peak Potential 2018 so we can make it the best year yet. As a lawyer and small business owner, I bring a different viewpoint as to what might intrigue other business owners to sponsor and support Peak Potential.

I’m excited to have the opportunity to help Randy and 2020 Vision Quest promote Peak Potential, which I was able to attend last year. It was truly an inspirational evening full of laughter and fun! I’m excited to see what we make of it this year and again have another wonderful evening.

Carolina K. Tumminelli, Owner and Attorney of The Law Offices of Carolina K. Tumminelli PLLC

Visit my website
Connect with me on LinkedIn

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6 May 18

By Randy Pierce

Autumn looking at the camera with big doggy eyes

Autumn wants you to support us in the Walk for Sight!

On Saturday, June 2, in Concord, NH we’ll all gather for a short 3k (1.8 miles) stroll together for the Walk for Sight.

If you join us, you can see some of the amazing work of Autumn guiding me, many other guide dogs and cane users, and several hundred supporters helping us raise awareness and funds for the more than 30,000 people we hope to provide training and service at Future In Sight. We’ll finish the walk and have lunch together, and somewhere in there our 2020 Vision Quest team will present will also present a check for nearly $30,000 raised through our tremendous community of support throughout the year.

We fund raise through three main methods: our Peak Potential Dinner in November, this walk, and my corporate presentations. This walk is a low cost way to join in, literally, or by a donation to one of our team members (pick me!), but time is running out so please consider making the choice today!

Less than a month to the event and our team has been growing slowly so we hope to make this push for a full team and for all our walkers to hopefully hit their fund raising goals.

See our previous blog on the Walk for Sight.

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28 Apr 18

By Randy Pierce

“Like a Potter turns his clay, help us shape a better day” –Ray Conniff

Randy holding a small unfinished clay piece at a table with blue covering, and looking at the camera.

Randy tries his hand at a pottery workshop for the sight-impaired, held by Future In Sight.

Future in Sight has been promoting an assortment of activities intended to enrich the lives of the clients they serve. One opportunity caught my attention as something I had always wished to try. I almost let the opportunity slide past which would have been regrettable on many levels. Fortunately a second nudge exposed me to a wonderful afternoon experience and one which inspires me to plan a visit with friends for a follow up crafting session.

More than 20 sight-impaired adults arrived bristling with eager anticipation to Future In Sight to meet with our guide, Ahmad Qadri. He had provided an incredibly successful youth experience previously and his blend of history, crafting, teaching and experience soon had us transforming our egg of clay into an assortment of different cups and bowls.

It was no small chore to work with so many; his patient and encouraging manner kept us all working forward with insight into his passionate approach to pottery. We had the chance to feel the broad assortment of tools and to apply several of them to the shaping and decoration of our devices in our all too brief time together. Although we didn’t fire our craftings into a permanent keepsake, he did offer to have this done at his studio: Rainmaker Pottery.

Randy and the group in attendance work on the pottery wheel

Randy and the group in attendance work on the pottery wheel.

He did, however, provide us the fantastic opportunity to work on an actual pottery wheel. At the speed of the wheel’s turning, our clay would change so much more dramatically with the most subtle of pressures from a thumb, finger or tool. We didn’t all have time to craft on the wheel in this introductory lesson but we could place our hands upon the  bowl and feel the transformation as he described the subtle move he planned. It is so easy to shape our pottery and so easy to shape our lives a little better with the right guidance!

My takeaway involved the excellent reminder to choose involvement and participation as often as possible. As someone working to support and promote the excellent work (and needs) of Future In Sight, I had almost forgotten to appreciate the value they can provide to my life as a person who is blind, still learning and exploring opportunity in our world.

Thank you to Future in Sight, Rainmaker Pottery, and Ahmad Qadri specifically.

Hands working on a pottery wheel

Attendees of the class work on a pottery wheel together.

The original announcement from Future In Sight:

Hand building and pottery wheel workshop
Wednesday, April 4
2:00-4:00 PM
Future In Sight
25 Walker St., Concord, NH

“Participants will have the opportunity to try both methods of Hand building and a pottery wheel to explore their creative imagination through this tactile experience. Ahmad Qadri teaches at an international camp in Windsor, NH. He is also on the New Hampshire art council teaching roster. He has over 30 years of pottery experience to bring to this event.”

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22 Apr 18

By Randy Pierce

Randy and Jose run the Boston Marathon in cold, rain, and wind.The 2018 Boston Marathon featured the worst marathon weather I’ve ever experienced: cold temperatures, relentless rain, and generally unreasonable winds.

Battling hypothermia for several miles, I reached the crest of Heartbreak hill to face a cold blast of wind and an astounding deluge which was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Barely able to speak and shivering uncontrollably, Jose guided me to the medical tent for treatment and the end of our race. It was absolutely and unquestionably the right choice. Pushing perseverance any further raised the risks of serious medical consequences tremendously and an ambulance ride was the most likely result, not a heroic finish line. Making the right choice amidst the various pressures to continue is a clear success, yet failing to complete the goal is also a failure. How do I reconcile these realities?

While I can admittedly be harder on myself than is ideal, I’m always working to improve on this. I believe in sufficient accountability to understand what went awry and then as soon as possible to put all the energy into a focus forward mindset. The goal is to ensure the energy is applied to where it can have an actual positive change.

In this instance my accountability is simple: I’d trained as fully as my post-injury time allowed and was reasonably ready for a normal marathon experience. As weather reports indicated concern, we adjusted our gear dramatically to allow for better warmth and water protection beyond the limits of any prior marathon or long run experience. Usually the concern is that such choices create a risk of overheating, so there is a fine line. In hindsight, I had room to purchase a new thicker and warmer outer shell of wind and water protection, although realistically predicting this need and ensuring I would not have been in danger of overheating was unreasonable.

In short, my accountability is reasonably low unless it was a matter of mental toughness. My guide, the medical team, the ambulance-riding runner next to me in the medical tent, and my own mind knows this wasn’t the issue and any push for perseverance would have been a greater type of failure. When faced with a choice of types of failure, success is making the best possible choice in those moments.

Now the trick is to convince myself this is just a setback and to begin the planning necessary to bring a greater success from it. There are two stages for me in this process.

The first is the process of facing my shortcomings with the same confident sharing that I celebrate my successful achievements. They are all part of the growth for me personally and perhaps for those who might also choose to draw some insight from the experiences.

Secondly, I use the hunger for a more full success to fuel my training on the next event of a similar style. In this case my eyes are now on the prize of the May 20 Gate City Marathon in Nashua, NH. This race will be an opportunity to put out a stronger marathon performance as well as achieve a Boston Marathon qualifier.

That will be my opportunity to work towards crossing a finish line which eluded me this year and it will be doubly sweet for the proper perseverance and resiliency required to achieve it.

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14 Apr 18

By Randy Pierce

Image of Randy on a mountain looking out into a sunset, overlaid with these words: The Ninth Annual Peak Potential Dinner and Silent Auction

Hopefully, Jose is guiding me to a fourth consecutive Boston Marathon success for April 16, 2018 even as we are announcing some exciting new twists to enhance the success you help us achieve with our Ninth Annual Peak Potential Dinner and Auction Gala.

Save the Date: November 17, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.
Proudly returning to the Courtyard by Marriott

Tickets will officially go on sale June 1 and we encourage you to begin organizing your tables early. For the first time, we are inviting you, our generous supporters, to pick your table location. All of the normal on-line sign-up will still be in place, and we’ll reach out to table purchasers in the order that the payment is received with the layout of the available tables, allowing you to select where you and your fellow supports will enjoy a great meal and event festivities.

We are also keeping our early purchase pricing in place at the same $500 for a table of 8. There is also a limited number of larger tables for those of you whose group is 10 or 12, available on a first come, first served basis.  So start your table coordination now  and be among the first tables booked to use our new location selection feature!

We have begun preparation and planning for sponsorships, auction items and many event specific planning, so we invite you to visit our updated website:

Ninth Annual Peak Potential Dinner and Auction Gala

As always, we understand how fortunate we have been for the incredible support of our community. We continue to work hard to ensure our mission and effort are always worthy of your support. This year we believe we’ll be delivering a few additional surprises to take this event and our appreciation of you to the highest peak yet.

We hope to see you in November. Please help us to spread the word!

Autumn in her harness with her collapsible bowl.

Autumn hopes you’ll join us!

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7 Apr 18

By Randy Pierce

“Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother’s secret hope outlives them all.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” -Maya Angelou

Picture of a young woman with a guitar sitting on a stone wall.

Georgette Lillian Roy 1929-2017 – a young picture of my mom with her guitar.

My mother did not keep her hope or love for me secret as Oliver Holmes suggests, but its enduring power always encourages and motivates me. She was the force of nature Maya Angelou suggests, and I might rightly be described as the diffused form of her willpower and determination. She did much in her guidance and likely genetics to inspire my approach to my life and it has led to so many of the most rewarding results for me. In my first three Boston Marathons — from the first very successful 2015, to the medically compromised endurance event of 2016 and even the plans going awry challenges of 2017 — Mom was proud and spent the day hoping for any/every update.

In this, my first Boston Marathon since her death, I will be dedicating my every effort to my mom. There won’t be a phone call before or after for encouragement or celebration, but every mile will still be graced with her love and support. I will touch my hand to my heart and lift my arm in celebration throughout to honor her and draw strength from all the gifts of love, courage and determination she gave to me.

  • Bib #: 23600
  • Wave 3, Corral 8
  • Approximate start time: 11:14 a.m.
  • Estimated pace: 8:45 minutes/mile

Jose Acevedo will once again be my guide. We’ve shared so many experiences together it will be right to have him for this (hopefully!) healthy Boston Marathon together. We’ve won a National Marathon Championship together in 2014 (pictured at left), endured through Boston 2016 despite knowing the neurology challenges would be excessive, and most recently we made a bid at running California for the National Marathon Championship despite knowing my dislocated ankle was going to make it unlikely.

Randy and Jose running at the California International Marathon in 2014.

Randy and Jose running at the California International Marathon in 2014.

This time we hope for just savoring the celebration of a Boston Experience healthy, happy, and prepared. As with any such event, all the planning and preparation is vital but the teamwork, friendship and ultimately execution on Marathon Monday is what will define the day.

There is such a community aspect which sets this particular experience apart. It will be on display throughout from Team with a Vision, Mass Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired celebrates 25 years of supporting VI athletes as well as a community of those who benefit from their services all year round. It has been on display from the many training miles supported by guides and friends who make running possible for someone like myself where just stepping out and running on my own isn’t a viable option.

Thank you especially to Rodney Andre for logging so many miles together, sharing his insights on life, running and the humor in every moment to keep life fun. Thank you to Greg Hallerman who continues to provide coaching and strategy despite being deprived of the joy of running for too many months himself. The Gate City Striders are the running club of Nashua and the are also my supportive, patient and encouraging friends as well who constantly find ways to help me create or meet new running goals.

Thank you to the 2020 Vision Quest team who understand the various events of my life are a part of our awareness mission but yet takes a toll on the teamwork at times. Most of all, thank you to both Tracy and Autumn who often have to put up with a little extra for my training and running goals. Autumn takes it begrudgingly as long as I supplement it with extra walks and play for her. Tracy goes out of her way to give the encouragement, support and even at times restraint when I’m over reaching for my schedule or medical best interest.

It takes a community before we ever line up and then somehow a community shows up and helps us get through the hardest of the miles along the way and celebrations at the end. It is no wonder that a marathon is often a metaphor for life. It’s an endurance event some of us can do alone but how much better an experience when we work together for all aspects so that at the end we are celebrating the wonderful human accomplishment of challenging ourselves to give our best. I will certainly strive to give my best and in doing so hopefully honor my dearly loved mother who I know always gave her best for me. In the marathon of her 88 years on this earth she stumbled and struggled at times as do we all. When she crossed the finish I know without question she holds a well earned first place in my heart.

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25 Mar 18

Group shot at the LA Tough Mudder

Randy poses with his team at the Tough Mudder.

By Randy Pierce

“Give your all, and whenever possible give it with the support of a team you deserve and which deserves you. The rewards will likely be how your life is defined. See obstacles or opportunity, stumbling blocks or stepping stones, but believe you can achieve and you’ll have a vision more powerful than sight!”
– Randy Pierce following the March 28, 2015 L.A. Tough Mudder

We are all going to face our share of obstacles on the path. Will it turn us back, unable or unwilling to achieve for the challenge presented? Will we try, fail, and try again until we reach the goal? Will planning, problem solving, or the helpful guidance of another enable us to learn, grow, or better ourselves enough to overcome the obstacle?

The choice in approach is vastly up to each of us and we’ll experience the result of the choice as powerfully as the obstacle. I’ve always felt there’s a partial frustration in having met an obstacle and a similar frustration in the effort involved to overcome it. Since I’m facing some of the frustration either way, I’ll choose the version which most often results in the eventual jubilant feeling of success. In the process I tend to find an earnest dedication to the problem solving and perseverance often distracts me from the disappointing aspects of the challenge and invigorates me as well.

One of my most epic physical obstacles was out in California for the “King of the Swingers” obstacle featured around the 1:45-minute mark of this short video clip from Oberto’s “Hero of Summer” series. I encourage you to take a moment to remind yourself of a team oriented and determined approach to obstacles.

As we lined up below the platform with my team watching others attempt this incredible leap and swing, I was absolutely intimidated. I understood the difficulty and the large chance for failure. I knew there would be video cameras capturing every aspect of my attempt and reaction to it. I wasn’t aware beforehand that they would stop the other swings so that the entire Mudder Nation surrounding the challenge would be focused upon my attempt. This was an additionally daunting aspect of the obstacle.

I knew those things, understood them, accepted them, and let them go in favor of what I consider a more powerful consideration. By choosing to try, I was already growing and becoming stronger. I learn as much from failures as success if not more. We made a plan to help me orient on the T-bar trapeze. A teammate suggested the brilliant idea to grab the vertical bar instead of the smaller, easily missed, horizontal piece. I’m told my leg launch was a strong enough surge I almost sat on the T-bar. I managed this because I committed fully to the idea of the attempt and that is a strength for me most of the time. A partial commit would have made the first catch and grab of the trapeze weak and more likely to fail. Make the commitment and give it your all to succeed.

Oberto’s motto was: “You get out what you put in.” I find that true of so many things in life and especially our attempt to manage obstacles. If we decide to take the challenge, then give it our best effort and we’ll likely experience our best growth. As for the final release and ringing of the bell, how much of that involved my long arms and a fair bit of luck I’ll never know. I do think we make a fair bit of our own luck by the choices we make. I would not have rung the bell if I had backed away from the challenge and my life would have been missing a ringing success.

That said, I always want to honor the team who made such an incredible experience possible. Thank you Greg, Jose, Loren and Skye! It was an incredible experience and while we can’t ever  quite reproduce the magic of the day, it’s not hard to recall the experience and most especially our incredible teamwork! There’s a line from a stranger in the video and I hear it and love it every time: “Keep moving forward.” And so we shall!

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