March comes in like a lion and this week we at 2020 Vision Quest are feeling that as much as anyone. We had submitted an application for Quinn to the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards and our blog this week was to entice you to help us vote him to the top. Unfortunately, we found out today that for various reasons beyond our control, our application for Quinn was not eligible for the contest.
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
So this short blog is to remind all of our community that we too feel the challenge of setback and the frustrations of a long winter. Some of our more private moments are spent seeking the inspiration for getting back on our feet, pointed in the right direction and moving forward. No doubt the longest and hardest part of this is often finding the impetus to stand up after a good fall.
We hope in many ways we help you to find a little inspiration to get back up and pursue all of your dreams and goals. Thanks for sharing this unfortunate setback with us and we look forward to taking flight for many far more satisfying successes ahead!
Guiding Eyes shares fantastic news and begins a new chapter in Randy’s and Tracy’s lives!
By Randy Pierce
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” – Closing Time by Semisonic
Every Winter’s passing welcomes springtime to our lives. The many thousands of people so fortunate to have known the Mighty Quinn endured a most harsh winter. I will certainly honor and celebrate Quinn’s life, love, and many accomplishments.
Spring will arrive to New England on March 20th this year, but my darkest of winters will ease as Autumn, my new Guide Dog, arrives to Nashua on March 16. No dog would or could replace Quinn just as it was for Ostend and Modi before him. The new arrival will bring joy, freedom, and likely much love anew and begin a journey with so much possibility for our own marvelous moments.
Autumn is a 60-pound, 2-year-old “Black and Tan” Labrador retriever from Guiding Eyes for the Blind. The Black and Tan is a fairly rare color variation for the breed which already makes this girl a little extra special. She has been described as a “spitfire” with plenty of speed, a passion for working, and a love for the snow. That last bit may prove beneficial in our training which will begin, as mentioned, on March 16!
We have been selected to undertake the 10-day home training program which is an intensive and localized training right here on the snowy streets of Nashua, NH. We may travel a bit to ensure exposure to all the various possibilities we might wish to experience together, such as a subway, but the primary focus will be on the basic needs and special attention to all the challenging routes which are part of my normal routines. She’ll learn with me our local bus system, the City Room Café(!), the YMCA, Mine’s Falls trails and probably even a school visit! As one added but very special bonus, the trainer who gave Quinn the foundation we took to incredible heights will be joining us for this training and transition.
“A person cannot cross the same river twice for the second time neither they nor the river are the same.” – Chinese Proverb
Each dog is different and part of the training is helping me to understand what Autumn needs and wants to make us the most effective team. I too am so very different from the 2006 version of myself who headed to Yorktown Heights, NY to meet with and learn from both Guiding Eyes and Quinn. The real beauty in building an effective and happy team is part of the incredible work performed by Guiding Eyes for the Blind and I could not be more excited to open myself up to all the learning and growing ahead for me and my next partner. Quinn changed me and my life in wonderful ways and now it’s time to begin an exciting new journey. I very much look forward to sharing the wonders along that path with my family, friends and the 2020 Vision Quest Community. Thank you all for the incredible, heartwarming love and support during the hardest parts of the last few months and thank you for joining us for this promising future with Autumn!
This past week, I attended my second New England Visually Impaired Ski Festival hosted by Maine Adaptive and Sugarloaf Mountain in the wonderful wilds of Maine. As you might expect, there was a fair bit of skiing involved as well as some even more powerful lessons for life. As you read our blog, I invite you to think about becoming more actively involved in such an experience as a participant, a volunteer, or perhaps a connector to help others become involved in this tremendous opportunity next year.
It began with the legendary Erik Weihenmayer sharing his inspirational achievements in a powerful blending of his words and videos. Having reached the top of the tallest mountain on every continent, he set the bar high for anyone, but his continued drive to pioneer adventures through his “No Limits” team challenged everyone to determine if they were a quitter, a camper, or a climber.
The energy was high with the festival ahead and the knowledge many would share the slopes with Erik. Brent, Brian and I shared dinner with him instead but this included some planning for future adventure opportunities together. That would commence with an early morning TV interview on WSKI 17 to overview the programs and talk about our personal experiences with ski adventures and more.
(Randy’s interview starts at 8:35 on the video.)
Having spent my first three days on the slopes last year, my experiences were limited. Our first day this year was a reconnection to the Guide terms and feel of the mountain. Brian Leno captures a great video of Brent Bell guiding me from the front as we realize how much of the foundation we had retained.
We captured much of last year’s experience in words and video on our blog “Skiing Without Seeing” and as such I want to focus on a personal moment of growth which may have value for many of us.
I often want to challenge myself and can at times place an unreasonably high expectation upon myself. This pursuit of perfection in performance is often rewarding in achievements. There is a part of the process I consider a little broken. I am all too often rather hard on myself for not meeting my hopes. This really clicked for me poignantly when Brent Bell framed it playfully, albeit sarcastically, as “Hating myself into perfection!”
I’d like to think that hate is far stronger a reaction than I ever feel, but my expression at certain moments was trending so much more to the negative than I ever would believe healthy or even the most beneficial for the growth I’m trying to experience. Given my very strong belief in Ability Awareness over Disability Awareness, it’s almost comical I had been allowing myself to emphasize the lack of sufficient achievement rather than the celebration of the progress and perseverance.
I suspect I’m not alone in this private club of those unwittingly trying to “Hate themselves into Perfection” and I hope many will join me in dedication to stop paying dues to a less productive approach. Of course, if we slip a bit occasionally, we might remember to be gentle on ourselves for that failing as well and celebrate the attempt to always strive to be better.
So with that lesson understood if not entirely learned, I want to celebrate the participants, the volunteers, and the organizers of this incredible event. There are so many stories of all of those individuals facing personal challenge and reaching for the peak potential we always support with 2020 Vision Quest. In this we all share in the successful and inspirational tales of human achievement. I also want to celebrate all those who make the choices to strive towards such success and yet celebrate all progress and failings as part of the process. A part which includes appreciating the journey as well as the destination. Perhaps especially at this moment I want to celebrate my own goal to love myself in the failings and be stronger for that support as I reach again. Anyone with me?
On March 1, I’ll briefly present at a fundraiser for my friend Christine Houde and her team who are running the Boston Marathon this year. She is running for Mass Eye and Ear’s charitable efforts which is a cause near and dear to me.
Christine and I met through hiking and mutual friends. We soon found much common ground and then quickly began covering the ground as she joined me to act as a human guide for my first longer run off of the “dreadmill” and outside in the fresh, cold and…very snowy air!
My topic for the evening will be “Never Running out of Inspiration.” While it will only be 5-10 minutes or so, there will be a great evening of socializing, celebrating, and supporting this worthy cause, as well as support of her choice to undertake this epic race.
There are two methods of entry into the Boston Marathon: 1) to meet their qualifying time requirements, or 2) run for one of their approved charities and raise sufficient funds for that charity. I had intended to qualify for this year’s race, but Quinn’s declining health persuaded me to hold off that process and devote my time and attention to him. With my commitment of fundraising for 2020 Vision Quest, I could not in good conscience undertake the fundraising commitments for another charity, so I am dedicating this year to running in Quinn’s honor and earning my way into the 2015 Boston marathon. This will involve the dedication and kindness of many human guides throughout the process, but Christine was the first to lend her efforts to this latest quest. Even the surprise snowstorm didn’t stop us from our inaugural workout together.
This fundraising event is about her dedication to running and particularly the reasons for running Boston. As such I took the time to ask her a few questions I think you may appreciate hearing. I think many be particularly touched to hear her choice to honor the Mighty Quinn this year.
1) Have you always been a runner?
In high school I played volleyball and in college I did intramural sports but I rarely just went out for a run. I can say my running/ racing career truly started when I MOVED TO NH in 2010..i was talked into running the St. Paddy’s five miler and my time was not very impressive. In February of 2011- on a whim I decided to sign up for a half marathon to have a goal to look forward to- being my first winter in NH. I trained for that in the cold and did another half in 2011. I really kicked it into gear, doing every race I could get my hands on in 2012 and 2013. I was lucky enough to win the female division of the Seacoast Road Race Series this past October. I feel truly blessed to have discovered the joys and sometimes pains of running.
2) Why do you run in general and why marathons?
I run as a challenge to myself. I love the race scenes and the spirit of the sport and interacting with other runners. After I completed 3 half’s, I said I wanted to try and tackle the challenge of a full marathon. I registered for the Manchester Marathon in 2012. It was a lofty goal and an amazing experience. I did not run one last year and always knew I was going to do another one. The marathon is a mental and physical sport that pushes me towards something I never would have thought I could accomplish.
3) The Boston marathon has many reasons for being a noteworthy event but I wonder if given the events of last year, does running in this year’s event carry any special significance to you?
I knew 12 runners that were near the scene last year. Some had just finished. Some were diverted at mile 22. The tragic events really hit me. These events were way to close to home and no one could stop the spirit of runners. I wanted to show that I was Boston Strong and cowards can’t hold us down as American’s.
4) Why are you running for Mass Eye and Ear?
As a Lion, I am a huge advocate for vision and hearing research and treatment. Mass Eye and Ear treated 75 of the victims from last year and had helped thousands upon thousands of people gain sight and recover from diseases of the throat, nose, and ears. Vision and hearing are two incredible senses that are worth fighting and raising money for. My grandmother suffers from macular degeneration and I have experienced her downward progression over the years. If I can help someone else’s mom fight diseases like that, I will have felt accomplished.
5) Our community is still reeling from the loss of Quinn and I approached you about trying to help you sell out your event by asking if you’d consider wearing a “Quinn strong” symbol contingent on selling out the March 1 Fund Raiser. It’s quite a choice to wear any symbol during the race and you declined telling me you will wear that regardless of the sell-out. That’s a lot of kind support for a dog you met only once and yet you didn’t hesitate a moment in that response. What were your thoughts when you heard my inquiry about wearing such a symbol?
My thoughts were a mix of this- I know how much dogs mean to people. I am so in love with Salem and he brings so much to my life. I cannot even begin to imagine the support Quinn brought to your life because he helped you “see”. He climbed 48 mountains with you; he allowed you to run outside again. He literally was your eyes when you could not see. He was the sweetest boy when he was in pain the last time I saw him. He gave you unconditional love and a void is in your heart. I want to run for him and for you to show you that even in the darkest of times, someone can help you regain a sense you never thought you could have. I find it incredible you climbed all these mountains with him by your side and your story touched me. I am so sad over Quinn’s loss and I know your pain is on another level. He is family and will never be forgotten. I want to run for him with all my heart. I hope this is ok with you.
6) You know I’m training for my qualifying marathon to ensure I can run Boston 2015 and you are among a select group of folks who have been my sighted guide for running. What were your impressions of your part in that process? I am honored and thrilled to be able to see you through a marathon and I know you will qualify. Not a doubt in my mind. The experience for me was amazing and I cannot wait to do it again. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of it.
7) Any final thoughts you’d like to share with our community?
Keep up the great work and keep inspiring people.
Fundraising Event Info
When: Saturday, March 1, 2014 Time: 5PM – 10PM
Where: Somersworth VFW-post 4486: 43 High Street Somersworth, NH 03878
What: A fun filled evening complete with food, live music, a guest speaker, raffles, and cash bar.
Dress: Business Casual
Price: $40 per person in advance, $50 per person at the door. $65 per couple in advance, $75 per couple at the door
All proceeds go directly to Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary Inc. to find cures for blindness, deafness and diseases of the head and neck.
Checks should be payable to “Foundation of Mass Eye and Ear, Inc.”, with “Christine Houde” written in the “memo” section of each check.
To purchase tickets or for more information please contact Christine Houde at:
Beloved Boy of Randy and Tracy Pierce Puppies Behind Bars Graduate Guiding Eyes Graduate 2020 Vision Quest Founder Mountain Climber Road Racer Tugger of Tugs Squeaker of All Things Squeaky Beloved Boy of a Loving Community Honorary Member, Hudson NH Lion’s Club
My dear Mr. Quinn captured the essence of life so very well. He not only guided me safely on routes from the mundane to the ridiculous; he also infused my life with love and a healthy appreciation for play. His work ethic was impeccable with a focus and determination as intense as those of his play sessions. He helped guide Tracy and me together and ensured we each always knew his love for us was as boundless as his eagerness to retrieve! He brought his tail-wagging enthusiasm to thousands upon thousands of students in schools and made history in his hikes and races. I spent more time with him than with any other being and I match his unconditional love now and always. “Best Boy” Quinn, my very best boy!
What I urge all of you to undertake is to make this our blog tribute to Quinn. I’ll begin by sharing a cherished tale and encourage you to all do the same with one, two, three or more tales as inspired. In this way we’ll have a tremendous tribute page filled with all the many things he meant to many different people. Whether just a chance encounter of a wagging tail, a smiling pup face on a mountain trail, matched in the worming battle of tug-o-war, or at a presentation perhaps. However and wherever he touched your life in a manner you are willing to share, please do so. We’ll approve all comments as quickly as possible and lovingly keep this record of Quinn for all time!
The Breakfast Club Tale
I was on my way to Tokyo Joe’s Studios to work out as I often did with the Mighty Quinn. He knew our routines well enough that in lifting the harness handle and heading to the bus, few if any commands were necessary. Stepping off the bus downtown and walking past the parking garage to cross West Pearl Street, we needed to turn left, but this one day, Quinn suggested we turn right since after all the restaurant City Room is just a slight right and home to his “girl-friend” Terry and many cherished friends.
I smiled for the thought but told him no, we were going to turn left and head to the Dojo. Compliant after sharing his opinion initially, he turned to the task and marched us to the door whereupon I learned the studio was closed for reasons I don’t recall. I laughed at his apparent foresight and suggested we do as he says, but first suggesting we go to the ATM at the end of the street for cash. This of course meant we had to walk past the City Room door where once again he made the turn to show me where he thought we should go. I told him he was a good boy but that we had to “hup-pup” to get to the bank.
We arrived down to the end of the street to discover the ATM was out of order which for a blind man can be a little bit of an exercise in futility… and was. Thus it was that with debit card as the final plan, we returned to city room with Quinn eagerly pulling me to top speed as his enthusiasm did when approaching places he loved. The boy had it right the entire time and I just had to come to terms that really breakfast with friends in a place like home is the right way to spend any morning.
I love you, Quinn, and despite the many fine adventure tales I will continue to always share, the real magic moments are the freedom and companionship we shared every single day for just over seven years!
We Salute and Honor the Marvelous Mighty Quinn
12/11/04 — 1/20/14
February, 2014 – Randy’s post to the 2020 site’s home page about Quinn
Farewell Quinn – We are all so fortunate to have had you touch our lives. Your love, devotion, perseverance and playfulness are held ever so warmly in our hearts. You enriched my life in so many wonderful ways well beyond the incredible Guide work for which you were trained. The heights we climbed, the lives you changed and the vacancy you leave are unimaginably immense. I hurt and grieve your loss intensely. I promise to honor you and the gifts you gave to me, Tracy and our world. I love you my beloved boy and I am in the company of so many who will feel similarly.
Remembering The Mighty Quinn
January 20, 2015 – Randy reflects back on Quinn, one year after his passing:
Quinn! Gone from the world for one year on January 20th, and yet with me every single day. Cliché?
Perhaps to some, but his indelible mark upon my being tells me otherwise. Lives have a legacy left behind which is not best measured in days, weeks or years. Quinn’s milestones are incredible for certain, and yet those too fall short of how I recall my beloved boy.
Many well understood his intense devotion, determination, fierce focus, drive and playful competitive approach to every moment. He was all of those things for certain. For me, however, I see the significant change he brought to the essence of me. Truly great friends alter our lives and guide us toward becoming better beings. Can a dog really do this or am I simply exercising hyperbole?
Ultimately we are always the authors of the change in our lives, and yet the encouragement and support may come from myriad influences. For some, perhaps, a dog might never be such an influence. Though for the many whose company I share, our pets may indeed transcend mundane labels. Quinn was–and I believe always will be–so much more than a dog. He was my guide, my teammate, my inspiration, my encouragement, my joy and my truest of friends. I lost so very much one year ago but I gained and keep so very much more within me now and evermore, because of my great boy, my very best boy. I love and cherish you Quinn, and continue to be so very proud and grateful to hold you so dear in my heart. Thank you for so much learning and for the person I’ve become by having walked our journey together.
I really do love snow and truly like winter–which is a dangerous statement here in New Hampshire after a 36-hour “Nor’easter” which ended as a full-blown blizzard. I could describe the many well appreciated aspects of a winter wonderland, but I may make more allies by sharing the hardest parts of being “snowblind” and then some!
As you might expect, I rely on all of my other senses to help provide me with the information my blind eyes do not supply. Stepping out into a balmy -12 degree morning (not counting windchill) is an experience guaranteed to ensure fingers and toes will join my non-working eyes. I can of course bundle up like the Michelin Man and keep that sensitivity working, but that only allows my hands and feet to report they are nestled snug and warm in a thick barrier of cozy isolation from the outside world. If that tactile challenge isn’t sufficient, there’s the potential for a foot of fluffy snow to render cane probing in gloves particularly ineffective for navigation.
Fortunately, the cold is an equal opportunity debilitator and is pleased to freeze every nose hair and olfactory neuron which might otherwise provide me with those clues to my location. My ears, should I dare leave them open to the air, will soon turn as white as the snow providing excellent camouflage but a rather notable hearing impairment. That is, to impair the noise not absorbed or at least grossly distorted by the new layers of snow upon everything!
As you may be noting, my five senses become rather inhibited during such times as snowy winter day. I do have a rather well developed sixth sense which is to trust the Mighty Quinn (our dog guides are a much more effective sixth sense than talking to dead people). There is much sense in learning to trust a Guiding Eyes pup as they need much less bundling to be comfortable and still typically can use all five of their senses to assist us. The trust is that all the familiar landmarks we and they use, such as a mailbox, sidewalk, or curb, may be lost behind or beneath a barrier of snow. Just where is that bus stop pole I can no longer verify we’ve found?
So when I tell you about enjoying the New England winter while you may have had more than enough of shoveling and cold temperatures, take solace that a world full of challenging changes is also confronting me. I’ll be getting lost a little more often and changing my routines to avoid impassable street sections where sidewalk clearing is an empty hope. I’ll occasionally travel much of the way only to be thwarted by having to turn around rather than risk going into a busy and slippery street which without snow held my typically safe sidewalk. My hands on harness or cane will give me the frozen tingle of pain and I’ll even shake my fist to the snowflakes on occasion and wish for spring. I still love my New Hampshire winter but I well understand the reasonable sanity of those who may not always share my joy! Let’s agree on one thing very clearly: “Four More Feet” is a great name for a movie and a less than stellar weather forecast at this time of year!
The holidays are upon us–or, since they often seem to wear folks down, perhaps the “holly daze” is more appropriate. I love the notion of seasonal cheer which often brings about the best in community interactions. However, I certainly understand the stress and challenge it may bring for some, particularly in the shopping world. So if you need something a little more than a copy of “Four More Feet” as a gift for someone then perhaps consider searching some of the incredible crafty and artistic opportunities for your gifts this holiday season.
While I have reasonable creativity, I’ve rarely been accused of being artistically talented– for very good reason. I do, however, have many friends who astound me with their creative talents. As an example, I wanted to share three in particular because of the quality of their work and for the many ways in which they have supported me personally and 2020 Vision Quest. I urge you to take a look at their pages and offerings. These are just three of the many examples; I’m hopeful that on our blog and through our social media, many others will share their own similar pages or favorite pages to help us all discover some of the wonders available this holiday season.
“Don’t cry because it is over; smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss
** Warning – this blog topic contains serious and somber news **
The Mighty Quinn is an extraordinary dog and has achieved so very much in his young life. We are delightfully immersed in what we like to refer to as “Play-a-palooza” and “Treat-o-rama” here at the homestead. All this is to reward and celebrate the fantastic fortune of having shared so many moments of marvel with him. As Thanksgiving approaches, it is appropriate to be thankful for all the joy, freedom, and wonder which he has brought into the world.
Many of his supportive friends and the 2020 Vision Quest community are already partially aware of the serious challenges we presently face. After our last update, the full and devastating detail is deservedly due to everyone we can reach with this report.
Quinn has osteosarcoma (bone cancer) which has a focus point effectively on his skull. The result is a very aggressive and sadly terminal prognosis. The muscles of his jaw are being rapidly replaced with cancer cells. This is a rare location for the cancer, and with a biopsy showing vascular intrusion, very few months is the prognosis. In a bit of a mixed blessing: the mouth impact he has experienced for several months will likely achieve a point where he cannot play or even eat for himself before the cancer has the opportunity to end his life. As such, I will be very attentive to the quality of his life and after doing my utmost to ensure that quality is fully appreciated, I will ensure his peace arrives with all the love and mercy he similarly deserves.
As you might expect, I am devastated. I work hard nearly every moment to scramble for perspective and give Quinn the celebration his life and the happier present moments deserve. We’ve only been together for slightly more than seven short years. He’s only just approaching his ninth birthday on December 11 and without question it all feels entirely unfair.
Yet I look at the amazing experiences we’ve shared and I know without question I really am astoundingly fortunate. As I read the outpouring of support from Quinn’s many friends and the many people who have had their lives touched by this incredible boy, I count myself lucky for Quinn as well as the strength, courage and support which I know will see me through the darker days ahead.
Thank you to each and everyone of you who in all your various ways have expressed love and support. Thank you most of all to the Mighty Quinn. There will be time for the full measure of grief when he is no longer with us. Despite my best efforts, a bit too much grief may sneak into my present but I do hope you’ll all attempt to join me in thankfulness and celebration for the Mighty Quinn.
“You’ll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn” – Bob Dylan
In the wake of completing our 48 peaks during the summer hiking seasons, this week we have an exciting announcements about our “winter 48” quest. Dina Sutin’s fantastic film “Four More Feet” about that journey has been delighting audiences throughout New England and beyond since September 2012:
“Four More Feet” is a documentary about Randy Pierce, a totally blind hiker who takes on the challenge of hiking all of New Hampshire’s 48 four-thousand foot peaks in a single winter season. Aided by his service dog, “the Mighty Quinn” and several human guides, he had just three months to complete this quest. Far more than just their story, this film provides a powerful message of perseverance and more for all audiences.
Thanks to Dina’s incredible talent and dedication, we are delighted to bring this story to you in several new ways. She has brought Descriptive Video Service (DVS) to the film in order to deliver the experience more powerfully to the blind or visually impaired communities. Better still, the audio track of the movie with the description included is being made available for free download for everyone.
While the DVS Audio format is fantastic, many of you may want to experience the film with the full grandeur of the video as well. To get your very own copy of the DVD, there’s a simple two-step process to have it mailed to you anywhere in the Continental United States.
Make a donation of $25 or more to our 501(c)(3) charity by clicking here.
You will receive a “Confirmation of Donation Email” which you should forward to us at email@example.com along with the address to which you wish to have the DVD mailed.
US Postal Mail
Make a donation of $25 or more to our 501(c)(3) charity by sending a check made out to “2020 Vision Quest” to:
109 E. Glenwood St
Nashua NH 03060
Clearly indicate the address (in the continental US) to which you would like your complimentary DVD shipped
We will typically mail DVD requests within a week of the request being received.
We are thrilled with the opportunity this provides to share an incredible story with a powerful message. We hope you too will share it with everyone for whom you believe this may make a positive impact!
Scrambling down an incredibly steep, icy, and challenging section of the Falling Waters trail in May 2013, I paused to talk to a couple of climbers ascending the trail. Realistically, we had to pause to manage passing each other safely on this perilous stretch, and each of us was glad for the moments of communication that provided a brief break.
As I was introduced to Michael and Serenity Coyne, I quickly realized there was an incredible story in front of me which I hoped I could share with our community. We are, after all, significantly in the business of inspiration and adventure, both of which these two incredible people demonstrate beyond the wildest imaginations of many! Rather than giving you my version of their story, I’ll let them tell it in their own words. Suffice it to say I am in awe of and appreciate their response to challenges and life. I hope you may find a similar appreciation and inspiration in their tale.
The 2013 Icelandic Wild Heart Expedition
By Michael Coyne
I am the team leader for a group of athletes and explorers from the New England area called Expedition Outreach, a charitable organization I founded in 1995. My team will be setting out on expedition in August of 2013 that kicks off a series of trips around the world from Costa Rica to New Zealand and Africa where we will rock and ice climb, race in triathlons and SCUBA dive to raise awareness of heart disease testing.
Sometime ago, I had heart failure in the transition zone of a triathlon equivalent to 2 massive heart attacks that was related to an assault that happened on duty as a Massachusetts State Trooper, when a man tried to kill me for no other reason than the uniform I was wearing. My doctors told me I had an ejection fraction of 15, a measurement of the amount of oxygen that leaves the heart, and had roughly 5 years to live and would never SCUBA dive or climb again. The heart failure was related to sleep apnea that I sustained due to the head injury I sustained during the assault, something I could have been tested for if I had known at the time about the correlation.
As a lifelong athlete I was devastated, I was forced to retire and now I train full time to rehab my heart and extend my life span. In 1 year I have improved my E.F. to 45%, not normal but something my doctors thought unprecedented. I desire now to come back stronger than ever: Inspiring all those who have experienced adversity in their lives.
In Iceland I will attempt to climb the highest peak and set the Guinness Book World Record for the fastest ‘“Alpine” face first Luge. I currently hold the “Official” World Record for the highest altitude Luge run in Bolivia.
My team and I take the publicity we receive from our “extreme” sporting and mountaineering adventures, expeditions and races and focus it on education and awareness: In my life I have broadcasted live from the summit of a previously unclimbed peak in Alaska across the nation on ABC Television and named it Mount Hope, in the symbolism of the world working together to fight disease instead of each other, as a former US Marine I know too well about the effects of war. We were also the first to wakeboard the Amazon River complete with crocodiles and piranha to and wreck diving in Iceberg Alley. We first capture the attention and imaginations of our audience in order to better educate.
When I was told I had roughly 5 years left, my wife Serenity, a registered nurse and athlete we call “Cheetah Girl” since she dresses up as a cheetah for all her races to raise awareness for the highly endangered cheetah, planned these Wild Heart Expeditions and Races. Serenity is on the road to her first Ironman triathlon in New Zealand in 2 years. In Iceland she will race in the Reykjavik Marathon. Iceland starts the filming for our extreme sports documentary designed to educate about the importance of facing our fears to understand the nature of this planet and our own hearts.