Celebrate 2012: truly a year on the peaks for Randy Pierce and 2020 Vision Quest

By Jim Caron

When Randy Pierce started 2020 Vision Quest in 2010, he could never have guessed what successes would be accomplished in the year 2012.

True to his most urgent goal, in the spring he was able to present $10,000 contributions to each of our two key charities — New Hampshire Association for the Blind (NHAB), and Guiding Eyes for the Blind, which trains guide dogs. These organizations provide vital, life-changing support to individuals stricken with devastating vision loss, helping them reclaim the full possibilities of their lives, much as Randy himself displays each day. And their services become more relevant every day, as the Baby Boom generation ages.

On yet another front, Randy’s passion for enlightening young people reached full pitch, with presentations at schools scheduled in almost every week of 2012 — and often multiple schools in the same week! By his tally, he and Quinn have now brought their message of Ability Awareness and of reaching beyond one’s limitations to over 18,000 young minds. It is tremendously gratifying for Randy when he hears back from teachers that their class has taken his message to heart, like for example, the fifth-grade class that adopted a mantra of “What would Randy and Quinn do?” when confronted with a challenge.

Companies likewise caught on to the power of the message, and in 2012, speaking to corporate meetings became a significant source of donated funds. For the record, Randy himself receives no personal compensation for any of his 2020 Vision Quest efforts, which as you can see are herculean.

Also gratifying were the successes of the Winter 48 Hikes, which put Randy and Quinn into the record books as the first blind man and guide dog to climb all 48 of NH’s 4,000-footers in a single winter season. Film-maker Dina Sutin documented the experience, and produced a beautiful short film that appeared in local theaters in the fall, generating contributions through ticket and DVD sales.

In the spring, Randy took on the grueling task of walking 100 miles in support of NHAB’s 100th anniversary. Shortly after, the summer hiking season commenced, ultimately adding another 14 peaks to the tally, which now stands at 36. The remaining 12 of the 48 peaks are scheduled for completion in 2013, well ahead of Randy’s original goal of the year 2020.

Closing the year, our third annual Peak Potential trails-end gala likewise reached new heights. Tables had to be added to accommodate the requests for seats, and our fund-raising auction set new records for both items contributed and total sales.

I have to be honest — I find it kind of exhausting to even consider how far Randy and Quinn have “pulled the plow” this year. But it reflects the intensity of desire that Randy has in his heart to make a difference to the lives of anyone he can help. He is truly a man who will give you the shirt off his back. (Note to self: return Randy’s shirt.)

As we end this year, I ask that each of you consider giving Randy Pierce the gift of your support. Click that donate button, and chip in a few dollars to help keep our charities going strong. Or visit our gift shop, and buy a t-shirt, hat, or hoodie sweatshirt, for yourself or as a gift to a 2020 Vision Quest supporter you know. Show the love with one of our coffee mugs, or a Quinn-approved doggie dish.

The proceeds, I assure you, benefit real people in very real ways. Best of all, your enthusiasm for Randy’s mission will keep him going strong in 2013, and beyond.

Let me also wish you the best of the season, for the entire 2020 Vision Quest crew. May you be as blessed in the coming year as we have been in 2012.

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Independence Day Takes on a Whole New Meaning

by Jim Caron

Every July 4th, our family does the same thing: we go to a cookout at our friends’ lake house, along with a huge group of friends. We’ve been doing it for probably 20 years now — so long that for me, the holiday looms in my mind as Cookout at Becky’s day.

Yet today, as I was running out to pick up some ice and burgers, I heard somebody on the radio refer to it as “Independence Day.” This kind of  knocked me off my horse, reminding me “all over again” what the day is really celebrating: the courage and vision of the Americans who strove to create a more perfect union.

And within moments I had another thought: the true meaning of a guide dog to a blind person is exactly that — Independence. With Quinn at his side, Randy leads a truly independent life, a huge and wonderful step forward from the humbling challenges that total blindness brings.

Within a moment I found myself wondering if Randy’s choice of his inaugural hike on Independence Day was by design? And another moment later I decided that, yes, without a doubt it WAS by design. Details like that are rarely lost on Randy.

One of Randy’s goals with 2020VisionQuest is to raise awareness and desperately needed funds for blind services organizations in this time of financial cutbacks: specifically the New Hampshire Association for the Blind, and Guiding Eyes for the Blind. By supporting Randy’s mission you can make a difference in the lives of people whose life is affected by blindness. The need is becoming more critical as the Baby Boom generation ages, and is beset by lost vision due to diabetes, macular degeneration, and a host of other age-related conditions.

Courageous. Visionary. If you follow 2020VisionQuest at all, you know those words describe Randy Pierce. Let’s help him reach the top.

Jim

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Sighted man gets lost in woods, survives to blog about it

by Jim Caron
Something had gone very wrong. As I tromped through the deep woods — brush lacerating the flesh on my shins, bugs and mosquitoes sticking to my ears and neck, the constant sticks and branches reaching out to trip me up or twist my ankle — I suddenly had a moment of dizzying horror. I had lost my bearings, and quite honestly, had no idea where I was.

Okay, I had some idea where I was: I knew that my house was probably no more than 50 yards away. I was in the woods that covered part of my 1-acre lot, woods left intact by the builder who developed my neighborhood, now enhanced with another 15 years of undergrowth — much of it wild raspberries. My task had seemed simple enough: walk the perimeter of my yard, leaving a single strand of wire behind me that would form the invisible fence to keep my golden retriever pup in the yard.

Yet now my spool of wire was almost out, much sooner than I expected. And then I noticed through the thick of the trees that the house I was surrounding with wire wasn’t even mine! In fact, I had no idea whose house it was: hey, I never see the backs of the houses in my neighborhood. In that insane moment of realization, the thought crossed my mind: Am I… in Russia? Somehow, I had taken a wrong turn.

But then I had to laugh, and just shake my head. I remembered my friend Randy. He makes it all look so easy. He and Quinn make their way all over town without any help, and now… NOW the dude is climbing mountains, and not the bunny slopes.

I have so much confidence in Randy that for me it’s a foregone conclusion that he’ll succeed. I mean, it’s pretty much like going for a walk in 48 parks! Isn’t it?
And then I’ll have an experience like this — lost in my own back yard! — that gives me a taste of the prodigious challenge he’s taken on. These are some serious peaks, and he’s not walking on asphalt pavement with nice teak benches every couple of hundred yards. These are long, exhausting treks. Just yesterday apparently it was in the 30s at the summit of Mt Washington, and it snowed. And Randy’s only eyes are Quinn; a single wrong step could injure either one of them — or both! (I won’t even tell you how often I stumble when walking my pups on, yes, paved asphalt.)

But as Randy says, “Having A vision is more important than simply ‘having vision.’ ” And right now — that is, if you are reading this on July 4 or 5, 2010 — Randy Pierce is out there with Quinn and Team 2020, living his vision.
Amazing. Inspiring. And 100% Randy Pierce.

Jim

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