Farewells to our beloveds are never easy. And to most of the 200-plus 2020 Vision Quest supporters who packed the Marriott ballroom Saturday night, Peak Potential is a beloved event, an inspirational gathering of friends in support of 2020 Vision Quest. But as Randy so eloquently told us in his remarks, a shift in perspective turns a sunset to a sunrise.
On our drive to Peak Potential from our home in Durham, my husband Brent Bell and I reflected on the 10 dinners we’ve attended. Brent’s known Randy since their Phi Kappa Theta days at UNH (he delights in Randy’s enduring image of him as a youthful 25-year-old) and together Brent and I have attended every Peak Potential dinner.
Brent anticipated those early, much smaller events as opportunities to reconnect with Randy and many of his UNH buddies; I met a wonderful community of dear friends and brothers who wowed me with their commitment to showing up and supporting each other. We bid on a handful of silent auction items and Randy inspired us with tales of his hiking pursuits. And who remembers the dance band?
At the inaugural Peak Potential in 2010, Randy laid out his goal of climbing all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot peaks by the year 2020. How quaint was that? Of course, he hit that mark — two times over — just three years later, and he challenged himself by moving the goal posts further year by year to include marathon championships, Tough Mudders, and summiting Kilimanjaro.
The 2019 Peak Potential dinner embodied that same audacious, overachieving, ambitious spirit. The Visionary Award went to a bona fide celebrity, Randy’s friend and Patriots legend Tedy Bruschi, whose 2005 stroke inspired him to create Tedy’s Team to raise funds for the American Stroke Association. Silent auction bidding was brisk, and emcee Michelle Brier, with the help of future guide dog Kane, coaxed generous bids for live auction items.
Randy, Tracy, and the 2002 Vision Quest board presented a whopping $60,000 each to beneficiary organizations Future in Sight and Guide Dogs for the Blind; after the evening’s donations were tallied, that figure went north of $70,000 to support people with sight loss. That brings 2020 Vision Quest’s total donations to half a million dollars!
So why quit now?
As Randy assured guests at the event, 2020 Vision Quest has no plans to stop. Indeed, he’s set his sights on raising $1 million.
But just as Peak Potential has evolved from my husband’s beloved reunion with college pals to a major fundraising force, so has 2020 Vision Quest upped its sophistication game. As word of the organization’s great work spreads and conferences and corporations increasingly seek out Randy for keynotes, 2020 Vision Quest can tap other sources for donations that don’t rely on the massive volunteer effort (shout-out to coordinator Monique Pierce!) needed to mount Peak Potential.
So yes, we bade farewell to the annual event many of us love. But what makes Peak Potential so powerful — community, inspiration, dedication to helping us all achieve our peak potential — remains. I’m grateful for the 10 Peak Potentials I attended and look forward to watching a new sun rise on 2020 Vision Quest.
– Beth Potier