By Beth Foote
When Randy first spoke to me back in August about working on the 2020 Vision Quest website, I must admit that I didn’t know a whole lot about the organization. I wish I could say that I had a love of hiking or that the cause of blindness was near and dear to my heart, but neither was especially true at the time.
What I did have was a deep respect and admiration for Randy, who had been my friend for almost ten years. Ever since I had known him, I was inspired by his unwillingness to let blindness keep him from living a fulfilling life. So I was flattered and honored that he would approach me to be involved in his charitable efforts. I had been looking for new challenges outside of the workplace where I could use my writing and editing experience, and this opportunity seemed a perfect fit. I accepted gladly.
But it was Saturday, November 12 that I finally felt that I was a full member of Team 2020. That night, I attended 2020 Vision Quest’s annual “Peak Potential” fundraising dinner. The general feeling of the evening was lighthearted and jovial, a fun get-together of many good friends and acquaintances for a good cause. There was a wide collection of auction items generously donated by vendors in the area which were eagerly bid upon by the attendees. For me, though, the highlight of the evening was Randy’s short presentation about the work they had done and why it was important. It crystallized a lot of what I have been learning over the last few months and I came away with a renewed enthusiasm for the project.
The purpose of 2020 Vision Quest is multi-faceted. Yes, at its core it revolves around a blind man hiking all 48 4,000+-foot peaks in New Hampshire by 2020. Randy shared with us that he and the 2020VQ team hiked 17 peaks in 2011, and unveiled his plan to hike another 17 mountains in 2012.
However, the hiking is really a catalyst to promote the goal of outreach and increasing awareness for the cause of blindness. Randy told us that right now in the United States there are 4.4 million people suffering from blindness or serious vision impairment. By 2020, it’s projected that there will be 30 to 32 million. As the Baby Boom generation ages and suffers macular degeneration and related ailments, they will be in need of more and more services for the blind. Turning people’s awareness to the cause now is crucial.
I can think of no one more suited to speak to anyone who will listen–children and adults alike–about not letting your limitations get in the way of achieving your goals than Randy Pierce. He serves as a stunning example of someone who lives this philosophy every day of his life. Through his speaking engagements, Randy has presented to 10,000 students since embarking on this quest. He plans to keep adding to the list–he asked, why not shoot for 48,000 students?
Randy cited an inspiring quote last night that drives his approach to life:
“People will forget what you say and what you do, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
I hope that as the children who hear Randy’s words grow up, they will remember how it made them feel to realize that their dreams didn’t seem so impossible after all. I hope they will carry that feeling with them as they run into difficulties in their lives that seem insurmountable–that they will say, “I know I can do this–I just need to figure out how.”
As Randy described on Saturday, 2020 Vision Quest needs your help. Donations, of course, are always appreciated, but beyond financial support, Randy spoke of the importance of community in making this charity successful. Talk about us–tell your friends and coworkers, send us notes of your support, read our blog, or follow us on Facebook and other social media. Talk to your child’s school principal or your workplace about engaging Randy to speak, which he will do at no cost. Spread awareness in any way you can.
That is the main message that I took away from the Peak Potential dinner: a strong community is essential to our success. And the more success we have in our goals, the more benefit there will be to a much larger community.
I’m proud to say that now, even though I knew little about the organization coming in, I feel a part of this community. This is a feeling I know I will remember long after I have forgotten what was said or what I did on Saturday. I hope you will join our community with your support for this important cause and share in this feeling, too. I’m glad I did!