Tag: Randy



20 Dec 14

By Arielle Zionts

I am a recent graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, ME. Over 15 weeks, Salt students study and make videos and multimedia. They also each chose to focus in writing, photography, or radio. Rather than focusing on pure reporting, Salt teaches narrative, documentary, and story-based work. Our stories have a beginning, middle, and an end. They have tension or a conflict that is either resolved or being addressed.

I was struggling to find a topic for my second radio story so I googled “miniature guide horse in Maine.” I thought it would be interesting to do a story about someone who uses a guide horse instead of a guide dog. However, Randy’s website appeared in my search results and I began to read about Randy, his dogs, and their adventures. I knew there was a story in Randy and his dogs but I wasn’t sure what it was at first. I was afraid of making a cliché story: man has disability, man pushes limits of disability, listeners feel inspired.

After conversing via e-mail, phone, and text message, conducting two formal interviews, and going on a walk and hike with Randy and Autumn, I knew my story. I was struck by the strength and, to be honest, the adorableness of Randy and Autumn’s relationship. I was also moved when he talked about his former dogs, Quinn and Ostend. My radio story was going to be a relationship story.

In “Guiding Eyes,” Randy’s long-term journey of bonding and training with Autumn is explored and represented through a hiking scene on Pack Monadnock. The story also focuses on the cycle Randy goes through with his guide dogs: getting paired up with a dog, training, working together, death, and repeat.

At Salt’s show opening last week, over 50 people were moved to the point of laughter and tears as they listened to Randy speak about his relationships with his dogs.

To listen to my other radio stories, click here.
To learn more about the Salt Institute, click here.

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17 Dec 14

By Randy Pierce

Jose and Randy epitomize determination as they begin the final strides to the finish line.

Jose and Randy epitomize determination as they begin the final strides to the finish line.

When Ryan Ortiz, Assistant Executive Director for the USABA called us to the podium during the award ceremony, I was both surprised and delighted to think I’d somehow managed to place third in this National Marathon Championship. My excellent friend, Jose Acevedo, had guided me for the entirety of our 26.2 mile race.

It was just the second successful marathon for both of us and his first with the very significant additional work of Guiding. We had set a fairly modest goal for many reasons including my three-week battle with pneumonia which had grossly impacted my final weeks of training. I was proud of us and marveling in the teamwork which led to this momentous occasion, one which proved all the more powerful as we learned we had actually earned first place in the B1 division which is “total blindness to effectively no usable vision.” How did this happen?

For me, it started with my inspiration and decision to run the Boston Marathon as I detailed in one of my favorite blogs ever: “Qualifying for Quinn.” My very first marathon was a “success” on many levels though it was not indicative of the better approach I hoped to take for full marathon success.

I understood so little about long distance running but I was determined to listen and learn from the many resources available online and in the experienced runners such as my friend and coach Greg Hallerman. It was overwhelming how many people shared their knowledge, experience and perhaps most importantly running time as Guides to enable me to run train. Thus, it was all the more disappointing to me when my next attempt at a marathon–which had such better preparation and results, right up until my dropping out at mile 23.5 as detailed in my comment to the blog: “Bay State and Beyond.”

The California Marathon opportunity was made possible because the tireless drive of Richard Hunter and support of USABA, CIM and many others enables the large gathering of blind athletes to do so much more than just compete in this event. I didn’t expect or necessarily intend to personally compete as I explain in my pre-race blog for the event “CIM: Coast to Coast Blind Runners Share a Common Vision”

Tracy, Jose, and Randy pose before the race.

Tracy, Jose, and Randy pose before the race.

Tracy, Jose, and I paused and posed in Folsom, CA before sunrise on the morning of the race. We were excited, apprehensive, and slowly building towards the mental focus and physical readiness for the endurance experience ahead. Jose had mostly trained in Seattle for the sole purpose of guiding me at this event and I had joined him via phone for a few of his training runs but we’d only had two shorter runs together to practice the guide work and never in crowded race conditions. We felt confident that at a gentler 9:30-minute mile pace, we would support and sustain through the entire journey. While official time was “gun time” we didn’t press to the front as we knew our bibs would capture chip time and that was good enough for our goals. Thus thousands of runners were across ahead of us as we began.

The first stretch involved my needing to be tight behind him as we managed larger groups of people and brought our communication comfort up to speed. These early miles were crowd-restricted to a slower pace. Just over a mile, I was able to stride to the opposite side of the cane from him and allow my legs to stretch a little more. We picked up the pace comfortably and steadily began the work of passing individuals and groups. The first  pace  pack of 4:40 (four hours and forty minutes) took some time to manage with patience and talking to our fellow runners in order to find the space to work through together. By mile 9 we had passed the pace group for 4:25 and 4:10 and were running well together at above our intended pace. Shortly afterwards the first bathroom pit stop seemed sufficiently uncrowded to give Jose his opportunity, but the line was slow moving and at least six minutes were lost to the needed stop.

Back on the course, we had to navigate once again through a pace group cluster but felt strong as we approached the alleged significant uphill of the course. Reaching the halfway mark without noting a significant hill, we understood we were running strong and ready for the course which would roll and be flat for the duration of our trek. Race supporters played music, held humorous and inspirational signs, or simply cheered encouragingly throughout the many miles.

Water stops and nutrition moments were in great supply by the race and we availed ourselves of them appropriately. This required a return to tight behind and a slow to a walk. This cost us a little time but gave a little rest and kept us well hydrated and supplied with the energy we needed. Thus at mile 20 when we ran with a friend and peer, Kyle Robidoux, there was still good strength in both of us.

Our pace did slow for miles 20-24 where my first battle with a little leg pain arrived. My right leg, lower quad was cramping and spasming a little. I gave it two stretch breaks over the final 2.2 miles and used it as a little bit of a mental excuse to take an additional water stop I might otherwise have avoided. These final two miles were not my strongest and it is where I had to dig deeper for the mental and physical resolve. This made Jose stronger as he rose fantastically to the occasion of offering more support.

Crowds of supporters made communication more challenging and narrowed the course so tight behind was common as we found space to continue passing people on the stretch run. Our final turn was captured in the above photo and showed the determination and focus both of us needed to reach the finish as strong as we did. At his call, I slid up the cane and we clasped hands over our heads in celebration as we strode across the finish line. It was jubilant and emotional in ways endurance events bring forth. The post-race celebratory feelings and race support buoyed our proud recollections as we slowly eased our bodies towards the well deserved rest.

Randy, Jose, and Tracy triumphantly sport Santa hats at the finish line.

Randy, Jose, and Tracy triumphantly sport Santa hats at the finish line.

The atmosphere was electric and we waited in the USABA tent for Tracy to finish her first marathon as well. Celebrating our own success is a great feeling and yet the sharing of it is so much more powerful to me. Not just the sharing of pride in Jose and our teamwork, but the sharing of accomplishment and joy with all the runners as they crossed the finish line. Kristen, Jose, and I cheered as Tracy crossed with a huge smile overpowering the also well earned exhaustion. That moment carried as much powerful emotion as our own success.

The work on race day is certainly tremendous as is the reward. The hardest work lies in all the preparation. I ran more than 1200 miles of training which creates wear and tear on the body and considerable amounts of time. The dedication and consequences of the commitment are significant. I have the required challenge and benefit of running as a team most of the time. This certainly enhances the motivation and the enjoyment significantly.

My initial goal of the Boston Marathon is still ahead and my determination is beyond unwavering as it’s grown steadily. I understand reasonably well the sacrifice and efforts involved and even now have begun forming the plan for training ahead. The entirely unexpected and surreal additional reward is that now I hold a title beyond my expectations. I am the B1 National Champion of the marathon!

The reality is there are many fantastic runners, sighted and blind, of all levels, who may better my time. I hope to be one of those as I strive to improve and grow my own running ability. What I know is that in reaching for goals, in working towards our dreams and perhaps just in the conceiving of such, we are already winners. That is what makes it so easy for me to celebrate all of the glorious moments from our entire California trip even as I begin using my sightless eyes to look forward with confidence I will indeed Achieve a Vision Beyond my Sight. I always love the last experience and hope to always use those prior moments as a springboard to begin the next opportunities.

Better than all of those experiences, however,  are the many people with whom I hope to share the experience. Thank you to so many folks for letting me share their experience and for choosing to share in some of mine as well – this time particularly to Jose Acevedo my friend and teammate in this national championship! Congratulations on all the hard work and well earned rewards!

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13 Dec 14

By Jennifer Streck

I consider myself extremely lucky to have been a part of 2020 Vision Quest since its inception when Randy asked me over for lunch to pick my brain about an idea. From day one, I loved the concept and goals and hold immense admiration for Randy’s courage and drive.

The most awesome part of what he does, in my not-so-humble opinion, is his school outreach. I have been there when Randy has spoken to the elementary classes that my own children were in and left each time inspired and feeling better about the world we live in.

Randy is sitting with the team of 6th – 8th graders on Team Eyrie. Autumn is at his feet.

Randy, Autumn and the 2014 Elm Street Eyrie FLL Team.

Most recently, I escorted Randy to Elm Street Middle School where the Elm Street Eyrie were prepping for their inaugural First LEGO® League (FLL) competition. (Full disclosure: my daughter Bella is part of this team and asked to have Randy come in and speak to the group and help them with their project. As Randy saw Bella take her first steps before I, her mother, did, he owes me for life and is at my beck and call for all appearances.)

Now a little about FLL – it’s not just about the LEGO® robots. As part of these competitions, the teams must also present a project around the theme of the year and work within the core values of FLL – teamwork, cooperation, discovery, mentorship and fun. This time around they needed to address how to assist in learning. It’s a pretty broad category and the kids decided that they wanted to figure out how to help someone who is visually impaired. Randy was a tremendous resource to the kids as he told them the facts of his background and shared with them all of the different ways he learns about the world around him from directions, his environment, the weather, communication tools, computers and everything else.

The team shows him some of the obstacle courses on the FLL table. Randy is using his hands to feel the obstacles as the kids describe what each does and how they program the robot to do the tasks.

Team Eyrie demonstrates the FLL Obstacle Course table to Randy.

The kids were attentive and absorbed a lot. They even got to show Randy the obstacle course table that they used to program the LEGO® robot. As they spoke with Randy, I noticed a change in how they communicated. At first they all spoke at once and their enthusiasm was overwhelming. But then they settled and learned how to communicate in a way that was detailed, thoughtful, and expressive. In the age of “LOL,” “OMG,” and “BRB” this is not as easy as you would think. Just like the robots, these kids were programming their brains and were themselves learning.

As I sat there listening, two themes resonated.

First: Communication is key. Whether it’s explaining where a door is or expressing your point of view – the world stops without key human communication. And I am not talking about Facebook posts, Tweets, texting, or even this blog. Honest-to-goodness human interaction with your voice – words and tone – opens doors to so much for so many.

Second: Don’t be afraid. Be brave. Take chances. It’s harder than it sounds, but if we all try to do #1 to our best ability, there is no fear. Such simple concepts that we all, young and old alike, should keep closer in our playbooks of life. Oh what we could be and what we could give to the world if every day we woke up and took on each day with an open mind, brave heart and emotive spirit. Am I making more of it than it is? Sure. Maybe. I am known to dig a little deeper than necessary at times. But I also know that at the end of the session one of those young men came up to Randy and thanked him because before Randy spoke with them and told them his tale he was afraid around the blind. Now he knew he did not have to be and just needed to communicate in a new way.

The team shows him some of the obstacle courses on the FLL table. Randy is using his hands to feel the obstacles as the kids describe what each does and how they program the robot to do the tasks.

Team Eyrie demonstrates the FLL Obstacle Course table to Randy.

You’re likely asking yourself, “So how did the kids do? Did they win?” The kids went to their first competition on November 22nd. They did a tremendous job all around. Their project focused on the creation of a new app for the visually impaired to lend assistance crossing roads and intersections.

The app relies on the phone’s GPS (which Randy relies on) and BlueTooth technology that would communicate with the stoplights at intersections. When connected a signal would be omitted letting the pedestrian know it was safe to cross and at which street he/she is crossing. They even wrote a letter to the mayor of Nashua explaining their proposal and making themselves available for more questions and further research. (I would never have thought of an app, but that’s why I am raising digital natives – to change the world.)

And in addition, their robot came in 4th out of 16 teams in the Robot Obstacle Course Tournament! (I almost started the wave in the stands – it was so exciting!).

In the end, Team Elm Street Eyrie did not place overall and are not moving onto the States competition but this team pulled together in short order and delivered something that they should be very proud of. They worked as a team, communicated their goals, contributed their best and took some chances. That’s a check in the “win” column no matter what.

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6 Dec 14

By Randy Pierce

Randy and Autumn trek through the airport on their way to their first plane trip together!

Randy and Autumn trek through the airport on their way to their first plane trip together!

As Autumn and I stroll through the airport and onto the plane, and then settle into a seat with her curled up against my feet on the floor in front of me, it may seem a simple process. For Guiding Eyes Autumn, December 4 was her debut flight and we thought we’d enlighten the many who have asked how the entire process works. Like most things, it begins with planning and preparation.

Thankfully the A.D.A. (American’s With Disabilities Act) ensures she is welcome to accompany me on a flight and not require any additional cost or ticket purchase. Guiding Eyes for the Blind has ensured that we as a team are trained for our part in the responsibilities involved. She has proven able to exceed the behavioral needs despite all the possible surprises which might arrive on a flight. I’ve been trained to ensure the ability to keep her within those expectations and properly educate the people around us through the process.

Depending on the length of flight and possibilities for relieving Autumn, I’ve adjusted her schedule of food and water to ensure she can fly comfortably without risk of an accident nor of insufficient nutrition and hydration. This is more difficult with the extended security approaches, although many airports have very kindly provided relieving stations beyond security. I have food ready for her immediately after we finish our flights.

Alerting the airlines 24 hours in advance is a courtesy which can also allow me to request bulkhead seating for us. On many airlines this has just a little more leg room which aids my 6’4” frame and her 65 lbs of Labrador  to cohabitate a little better. This time we are traveling with Tracy and may negotiate a little of her leg room too.

Autumn settles in at Randy's feet, ready for the long flight.

Autumn settles in at Randy’s feet, ready for the long flight.

On the day of the flight, we’ll arrive a little early and ensure her a final relief before braving the security process. They will usually expedite us through security and thereby ensure a Dog Guide trained scanner as well. She sits in a stay while I walk through the scanner (hopefully successfully though the blind guy not touching the sides is another interesting challenge). Then while they watch I call her through and typically the harness will set off the alarm so they’ll pat her down. Often this is a treat for Autumn and the scanning agent. We then resume to the gate and request early boarding to ease things a little more. Sitting in plain view of the gate reminds them we are there to help finalize that early boarding.

Sometimes a little interaction with a fellow flyer in our row helps build comforts though there’s an occasional flight with someone unhappy to share the row with a dog guide. The airline may move that person if it’s possible and most of the time soulful puppy eyes win over travelers.

We are allowed in any seat not designated as the emergency exit row. The airline may invite us to move for better comfort and if safety is involved they may direct us to do so, but in my 14 years of flying with a Dog Guide this has never yet happened. A blanket and chew toy complete the options for her comfort especially on her first flight. Eventually she may prove to be as stoic and relaxed as the Mighty Quinn or Ostend before her, but setting the trip for success in advance is key. The final part of that is to ensure her dog food made the trip as it may be harder to find across the country. Just to be safe, a full day’s supply is in my carry-on and her collapsible bowl is on her harness.

Now we are off and ready for new adventures together!

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29 Nov 14

By Randy Pierce

A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands in January 2007. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands in January 2007. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

We are going to Sacramento, California to run the California International Marathon on December 7. For Tracy Pierce, this will be her first marathon and for me a chance at completing my second. This opportunity comes about primarily because of Richard Hunter and the USABA (United States Association of Blind Athletes) as detailed in a blog earlier this fall.

We will have the chance to be surrounded by a community of incredibly inspirational athletes, many of whom happen to also be blind. While undertaking an incredible opportunity in our own right we realized the escape from snowy New England to a vacation retreat would afford us many wonderful treasures. While the marathon is the primary goal for both of us and my chance to atone for a failure at mile 23.5 of the Bay State Marathon in October, I’m particularly proud to be running with my good friend and fellow 2020 Vision Quest Board Member Jose Acevedo as my guide.

Tracy and friends just finishing the New England half marathon. Photo courtesy of Tracy Pierce.

Tracy and friends just finishing the New England half marathon. Photo courtesy of Tracy Pierce.

So starting at 7:00 am Pacific Standard Time you can follow along our progress via the California International Marathon website or via various social media connections for 2020 Vision Quest.

Once the race is behind us, the vacation begins. Reuniting with friends (Jose, Kristen, Chris and Kat) to watch our beloved Patriots play the night game in San Diego will start that journey, though we won’t be attending live as California is simply too large a state for that part of the trip to be possible. Wobbly legs will slowly recover with a winery tour in Napa courtesy of our friend Amy Dixon, the Blind Sommelier.

We’ll catch the migration of the Bull Seals at Point Reyes and a couple of days in San Francisco for Alcatraz, eat Godiva’s Chocolate Earthquake Ice Cream Challenge in honor of my running coach Greg Hallerman, and take in other delights of the city. Later we’ll make the journey to Sequoia National Forest where the largest living tree in the world, General Sherman, will highlight a tour of some parks and majestic trees.

We are finding the balance of not overloading our schedule with plans to blend rest and relaxation with this incredible opportunity to visit a rare part of our world. Making the most of opportunities is such a gift to ourselves. Be grateful I didn’t write this blog to the tune of the “Beverly Hillbillies” as my mind first wandered. For my part, I’ll be grateful to the opportunities presented by delving into the experiences of life with a supporting wife and caring community. California, Here we come! – please have no snow!

Randy and Christine running in the snow.

Randy and Christine running in the snow. Photo courtesy of Tracy Pierce.

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24 Nov 14

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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15 Nov 14

By Randy Pierce

Randy poses, on his wedding day, with his dad Bud and his brother Rick.

Randy poses, on his wedding day, with his dad Bud and his brother Rick.

We are all time travelers in our steady forward journey, but time does not always seem as consistent through the years and key moments of our lives. It was two years ago on November 17, 2012 when my morning began with the early phone call which told me my Dad’s smile wouldn’t be shared with us again. He had stayed so very good at smiling despite an incredibly difficult final few years of his life which saw open heart surgery, strokes and the loss of loved ones.

I have grieved in many ways and on many days since that time and I’ve also learned to celebrate some of the moments we shared. I wish life had more campfire moments with treasured friends to share stories in full glory rather than just a snippet or two online, but for now here are just a couple recollections I hold in my head and heart.

• To my frequent embarrassment then, my dad was the loudest cheering fan in the gym for every one of my games he attended. Now I just realize how much he wanted me to know he was proud and loved me – funny how perspective changes in a moment from one of dismay to one of joy.

• One winter evening in 1980, we were on snow-machines together in the wilds of Colebrook, NH. As an unexpected snowstorm began to arrive, he suggested and led the way for us to ride up to the top of Dixville Peak together. At the summit, the thick rime ice clusters prismatically sprayed the headlights into some wondrous colors. It was beautiful but just a foreshadowing — for when we shut off the machines to just enjoy the peace and serenity, the real treat arrived. We were at the most northern end of the storm and the skies opened up clear to the north despite the lightly falling snow upon us. The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) were the most resplendent I’d ever seen in my life and were captured in the air, in the snowflakes, and in the hearts of a father and son sharing one of life’s rare moments. Green and pink dominate my recollection and we just stood silently sharing the moment.

• Amidst his challenging later days, his memory would frustrate him more often than he could stand. One morning he called me having been frustrated at being able to recall the Mighty Quinn’s name. I picked up the phone to hear his frustration as he said: “Randy, what’s Quinn’s name?!” — yes moments of humor are part of the recollection.

• Let’s finish with a touching tale. Dad was in a coma-like state after a fairly massive stroke. I’d heard all the official medical reports and knew about the amount of cranial bleeding. We didn’t know if he’d ever come out of it. It was my third day with him and his arm was on the edge of the hospital bed and I was resting my hand on his forearm. Quinn, nuzzled into my Dad’s hand a couple of times and I felt the forearm go tight and he moved it down to Quinn’s head and gave a clear two strokes onto Quinn’s head. Suddenly he sat up as if realizing the way to the outside world again. It was a long time before he could speak and understand again, but when weeks had passed and we could talk a bit better, I asked him about his first memory. He told me Quinn had come to him and he wanted to tell Quinn what a good boy he was for taking care of me. Effectively, he came back to thank Quinn for guiding his son so safely and well through so much.

My dad had many wonderful qualities and, like all of us, some challenging ones. I grew to love and appreciate him more through the years. There are hard memories and wonderful memories both. Through all of them I always know he loved me and strove to do anything he thought would help me be better prepared for all of what life had to offer. I love him, miss him, and most of all celebrate how fortunate I was to share and keep so many good memories and moments with my dad.

Rest in Peace, Bud–you too were loved.

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8 Nov 14

By Randy Pierce

Moosilauke - Flags on 48

Randy and friends fly an American flag atop Mt. Moosilauke in honor of those who died in service, both civil and military.

My vision of Veterans Day is from my youth with fog encroaching on a chill morning over a memorial in my hometown of Colebrook, NH. The haunting echo of the bugle is barely finished when the 21-gun salute rips through the echo and startles my somber reflection. My parents and community had instilled in me a sacred duty to honor the service gifted by all our veterans to our country. Veterans Day was one of the special holidays.

Is it still special? Certainly some make efforts to appreciate the choices and all too often sacrifices of our veterans. It does seem less emphasized to me today though, and I wonder if it’s the advent of so many “special” days, from “Unwrapped Twizzler Day” (yes, I hope I only made that up) to a culture that seemingly has lost some intensity of focus on any particular holiday or other day of note. Perhaps the ugliness of war and the reality of instant news coverage of any and every atrocity or failing has desensitized us and increased apathy?

For me, all of this is entirely my subjective observation. I sadly believe it as firmly as I believe there are many very worthy causes deserving of our limited attention and it is our personal responsibility to cut through the dilution of emotion and give focus to as many as we can reasonably manage.

Blindness is a cause to which I dedicate much time and energy. Cancer has impacted my life in so many painful ways it must get my full focus and all too often fury. These are reasonable and worthy points and I’m proud of the means by which I support them both. For all the people who do and have served our country, from my father to the many friends and family across all branches of service, I am humbled and appreciative. For some it may have been just a job or means to an education, and for some a career, but for all an agreement to serve. The reality of such service in hostile and abhorrent circumstances I likely may never fully fathom.

I’ll be grateful all year for the very significant freedom their choices provide. On Veterans Day this year and every year, I hope I will join many in recalling the people who are the veterans so worthy of our dedication on their day. Thank you veterans and to all those who join in honoring them with me.

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1 Nov 14

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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27 Oct 14

By Randy Pierce

“I find it hugely inspiring to meet and run alongside other people who are on their vision loss journey. Together, we can help educate and change public perception of what people who are visually impaired are capable of.”

– Richard Hunter

While it’s a little anti-climactic to come off my Bay State Marathon “failure” at mile 23+ (when my missing bag of nutrition, which had fallen out at mile one, finally caught up with me), this only serves to highlight some of the additional challenges faced as a blind athlete. I’m all the more proud and dedicated to the next six weeks to prepare for another marathon on the opposite coast, and this time it will be with a host of incredible blind and visually impaired athletes joining together at the California International Marathon on December 7.

The USABA National Marathon Championships, sponsored by VSP Vision Care, runs in conjunction with the California International Marathon on December 7, 2014.  Since the CIM adopted the Visually Impaired Division in 2007, participation of visually impaired and blind runners has steadily grown from 2 to more than 30 participants. Runners travel from across the United States and from other nations. Participants include blinded veterans, paralympic athletes, world champions, and many novice runners just beginning their athletic careers. Each athlete has a compelling and unique story of their own, and together are able to inspire, educate, and change the public’s perception of vision loss.

I invite you to explore the list of athletes and their incredible stories hosted on the United States Association of Blind Athletes site.

I’m often described as competitive and certainly believe there’s much truth to those words. I hope my drive and perseverance are tempered with the ability to appreciate many aspects of any experience. My goal for Bay State had been a sub-4-hour marathon and I was still solidly on track when the incident took place. My goal for C.I.M. is different despite the many athletes sharing similar challenges to my own.

Due in part to the proximity of my last marathon and to the desire to share this epic marathon experience with my good friend, Jose Acevedo, my goal is for we novice marathoners to stay comfortably within ourselves and finish with a better time than both of our first marathons. He set his goal and long training process specifically to be my Guide for this race and I’m honored, touched, and enthused to share the experience with him. Any marathon will challenge a person to dig deeply within themselves and as we run this as a team, it will provide times when we both have to encourage and support the other.

Success has to be earned for every possible goal in such races and I intend to grow my foundation of ability and preparation continually, perhaps someday ready to challenge more competitively at such an event. For now I hope to celebrate our success, our friendship, the event, and a host of incredible athletes sighted and less so who will make this experience part of what life is about!

Randy and Jose on Mount Carrigain. Photo courtesy of Jose Acevedo.

Randy and Jose on Mount Carrigain. Photo courtesy of Jose Acevedo.

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