The evolution of Peak Potential and what sponsorships mean to us

Heading into our Fourth Annual Peak Potential Dinner & Charity Auction, we are very excited to have three of our top sponsorship slots filled already. Joining us are Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) as our Platinum Sponsor; and Bank of New Hampshire and Fairway Independent Mortgage as our Gold Sponsors. (Check out our sponsor page for more on what those levels mean.) As we celebrate these new partnerships, I’m reflecting on where we started and how we’ve grown.

When I first proposed the idea of a charity dinner to the 2020 Vision Quest staff, it was met with trepidation: Is it the right kind of event for our newly founded organization? Is it too high a ticket price? Do we risk losing money instead of raising it? Will our (then small but growing) audience appreciate this kind of event? How could we possibly put it together with our tiny volunteer staff? After much discussion we decided to plunge in.

Our first year’s challenges were what you might expect: Deciding on a budget that we could “risk” if it didn’t go well. Finding a hall that was right and within our price point (i.e., as close to nothing as we could get, while still providing an appropriate level of quality for the event we envisioned). Coming up with auction items. Scheduling where we were least likely to conflict with attendees’ other commitments. Getting people to buy tickets. Oh, and Randy and Tracy getting married a few weeks before the event! Sponsorships were just a dream.

For the hall, we lucked out by finding The Derryfield in Manchester. They have great food, a beautiful space, and supportive staff.

Friends of 2020 and local businesses rallied to provide an eclectic array of auction items, targeting an audience whose makeup was as yet unknown. Gradually, ticket sales crept up, a table here, a couple there.

A few weeks before that first event, I was gleefully able to tell everyone we were in the black! Every penny raised from then on would be direct to the charity instead of covering event costs. I let out a breath I hadn’t known I was holding.

By the end of that first Peak Potential dinner, we knew we had a success on our hands. People were telling us how much fun they had, how great the food was, how impressed they were by Randy’s presentation. We could feel it in our hearts–it was the right way to celebrate the year’s accomplishments with our friends and supporters of 2020 Vision Quest’s goals. It was a personal and fiscal success.

Year two ran even more smoothly and Laconia Savings (now Bank of New Hampshire) jump-started our sponsorships. We got to thank members of their team personally when they attended the dinner. But each year, we still have that holding-our-breath time as we wait to cross the threshold into actual fundraising.

Last year, year three, we had a new and exciting challenge: What happens if we sell out the event? This year, it’s a sure bet we’ll be full to capacity.

Our expenses are kept as minimal as possible: PR, credit card fees for registration, the hall rental, and our biggest one, the food itself. Planning and implementation of the event is done entirely by volunteers, and each year we’ve set our fundraising goals higher as teamwork improves.

The devotion of our volunteers and the enthusiasm and giving nature of our attendees is what makes our sponsors so important. Our goal is to put every penny possible back into 2020 and our education programs, allowing more schools to include Randy’s presentations about achieving through adversity in their curriculum. Sponsorships allow us to do just that. Subsequently, we support New Hampshire Association for the Blind and Guiding Eyes for the Blind as they drive someone to a much needed doctor’s visit, or help that person learn to walk with a cane, or provide them with a life-changing guide dog.

Each Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze sponsorship we receive is one more success for the amazing group of people working so hard to help others.

Sponsorship also spread awareness of 2020 Vision Quest’s mission to people who may not yet have heard of us, and in the process, makes our supporters aware of the good work our sponsors do for their community. It’s community supporting businesses supporting community. A win all around.

Thanks again to DCU, Bank of New Hampshire, and Fairway Independent Mortgage, our Platinum and Gold sponsors for this year’s Peak Potential. We still have opportunities available–won’t you consider sponsoring this year?


Finding Ability Awareness

by Randy Pierce

Where did I find the term “Ability Awareness?” A remarkable young man named Tyler, who is our inspirational feature this week, introduced me to it. Rachel Morris, part of our 2020 Vision Quest team, shared Tyler’s incredible online video with us, and immediately I had a new term for a fundamental part of our message!

Tyler has his own website that delivers his inspirational message and video. The video begins as rather ordinary and then unveils a tremendous surprise, which very well demonstrates the power of perspective and the accomplishments available to those who choose Ability Awareness as their focus. I highly recommend you take a few minutes to visit the following site and watch the video:

I strongly believe in finding worthy goals and undertaking the necessary problem solving steps to convert dreams into reality. There is more to that process than I can describe in a single post, but ultimately it all begins with setting a foundation of emphasizing what you can do rather than emphasizing what you cannot do. We all have challenges in our lives, and we all can choose to take the necessary steps to bring our abilities to the forefront. It is easier with help, but removing the destructive power of the word ‘disability’ is a most important first step. While this cannot magically eliminate our challenges, it starts us down the path of achievement through our adversity, and that is a fantastic accomplishment.


I believed I understood the wisdom in Tyler’s philosophy, but his excellent turn of phrase not only reaches me personally, but also seems to connect to the many people with whom I share it. I hope you take the time to not only appreciate the message, but also help us share it with the world.


Peak Potential Auction – Everyone Lends a Hand!

One of the most inspiring things about working for 2020 Vision Quest is realizing just how many people are eager to help. While we love cash donations we can pass along to our charities, in today’s economy, not everyone has the means to contribute so directly. Instead, they find other fabulous ways to support us.

For some, it’s being a cheering section for the team – following us on our climbs, responding to posts on the blog, Facebook, and Twitter, keeping our morale high. For others, it’s spreading the word and telling us about people and companies we can contact for contributions. For the Peak Potential dinner and auction, we’re getting help in the form of donations, and it turns out our supporters have some amazing skills!

Check out the following examples:

  • How about an hour-long in-home Swedish massage from licensed masseur Doal Bartlett of Knotworks Massage Therapy? Perhaps you’re a hiker yourself – it’s great for a post-hike relaxation.
  • Kick it up a notch by bidding on the Spa gift certificate from Inner Beauty Concepts.
  • There’s an intricate custom fitted bodice from Linda Hodge. Crafted in a fabric of the buyer’s choosing, if the donation is large enough, Linda will even throw in detailing with one-of-a-kind handmade silk flowers.
  • How about curtains for your living room, a sofa re-covering, or that perfect Halloween costume for next year? Bid on ten hours of professional-grade seamstress work from Lydia Fithian of Lydushka’s Completely Custom Creations.
  • To stave off the chill of autumn, there’s a handmade afghan from Catelyn Cash.
  • Erin Torrey of Alle’s Corner of the World has created a freshwater pearl and sterling plated necklace inspired by Randy’s climbs.

…and these are just a few of the items available via silent auction.

In addition, there are a few special live auction packages inspired by our mission statement, geared to Inspire, Educate, and Challenge:

  • Our own Jim Caron inspires with his artistic talent – if you’ve always wanted to learn how to paint, he’ll teach you. At next year’s auction, maybe one of your paintings can raise funds for NHAB and Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
  • Pats fans may have heard of Randy’s famous Bruschi Brew, made at IncrediBREW. They’ve generously donated a brewing session, with how-to training included. Why not design a Vision Quest inspired beer and get friends to contribute to the cause in exchange for a bottle or two?
  • Perhaps you’ve been reading about Randy’s climbs and think, “I want to climb!” Our friends at EMS are providing a one-day climbing class at the renowned Eastern Mountain Sports Climbing School. Next year, you can climb for a cause, too.
  • One item comes from Tokyo Joe’s, the karate studio where Randy trains. If Randy’s board breaking video doesn’t inspire you, perhaps sparring with him in class will get you going.

If any of these amazing items appeal to you but you can’t make it to our dinner on the 23rd, don’t worry, you can still bid up until October 22ndst at midnight, by sending in an email bid. We’ll act as your proxy at the event – the highest pre-auction bid starts the bidding off on our silent auction items, and we’ll have someone bidding for you during the live auction items. For a full list of items you can pre-bid on, keep an eye on our Peak Potential page. If you offer more than the retail value of the item, the difference is a tax-deductible donation to charity and helps us with our matching grant, so make those bids count! If you have questions about how it works or about any of our items, get in touch.


Ground Control to Major Quinn! Musings on staying behind…

by Rachel Morris

No more than 10 people are allowed to climb as a group in the Whites, and the inaugural Washington trip is capped, filled with an intriguing mix of people, from our web designer, Jenifer, an experienced hiker whose recent musings about Washington can be found here, to our film producer, Kat, and her team. She’s coordinating the crew working on the first of what we hope is many professional film shorts we’re developing. Carrie, the 2020 hikes coordinator, is lead on this one, though I realize I’m not sure who her second is. They always hike with a leader and a second, in case the party needs to split up for any reason. Kara, our business manager, is up there, as are, of course, Randy, the Mighty Quinn (good thing four paws don’t make him count twice), and Tracy, who does double duty as 2020’s manager of finance and social media coordinator (triple duty, if you count the recent addition of her role as fiancée).

We’ve been planning the 2020 project for what seems like both a long time and no time at all – development meetings, both face to face and virtual, extensive phone conversations, thousands of emails, a wiki behind the scenes to track our many programs (adeptly coordinated by our project manager, Kim), publicity and marketing to consider (managed by Jim, with a strong initial boost thanks to Jennifer’s hard work), and, of course, discussions about our focus and core philosophies: How do we go about fulfilling our mission statement? Inspire. Educate. Challenge. Support.

These are lofty goals, and they are ones we take seriously, both for ourselves and for those who follow along and get involved in 2020, directly or indirectly.

Would I like to be on that mountain with the team? Absolutely. Going into this project, however, I knew that I have my own challenges to overcome. I haven’t been truly in shape since I bike toured parts of Europe as a teenager. Added to that, I’ve been battling my third extended case of Lyme over the course of two years’ time, and am coming to terms with some big shifts in my life after selling a business I’d been responsible for nearly a decade. I’m not ready to climb mountains. Yet.

But this project IS about inspiration, and it’s hard to be around Randy and Quinn and not be inspired. And it’s not just Randy, but everyone involved – each of the amazing individuals I’m honored to work with brings new inspiration to me, whether through their skill set, work ethic, creativity, or enthusiasm. Education? I’ve never felt so behind on my homework as working with this crew. Each and every day, I learn something new from someone on the project – tools I can use in my everyday life and work. Support? You betcha. This team backs each others’ plays like, well, how can I not say it…the Patriots back Brady. And all this during pre-season!

I’ve set my own lofty goal for the 2020 team and for myself, as fundraising manager: I want to raise enough to help raise a guide dog per mountain Randy climbs, so that 48 other people can experience the amazing world expanding opportunities a dog like Quinn provides. It costs roughly $45,000 to raise such a pup, and that cost isn’t passed on to the owners – it’s all through donations and grants and so on, so this is no small challenge. But that’s my challenge to the team and to our supporters. It’s not the one that’s foremost on my mind today.

Today, we’re officially done with pre-season and nearing kickoff of game one today – the Washington climb. The 10 member hike team is checking their packs one last time, going over the lists that have been made, taking a practice hike to stay limber and warmed up for tomorrow…and I find that the challenge has been set before me, after all.

I realize I don’t want to be ground crew for all 47 of the mountains yet to come…I need to figure out how to achieve through my own adversities and climb. It may not be this year, but perhaps the next, when I’m ready to see Quinn in action live, and hit the trails not only vicariously, but as part of one of the Team 2020 hike crews. Working with a team like this, I can’t fail. Ground control to Major Quinn…commencing countdown…engine’s on.

-Rachel Morris


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