We have compiled answers to many important questions. Please jump directly to any section of interest:
Q: Is 2020 Vision Quest a real charity? Are you listed on GuideStar?
A: Yes! We are excited to announce that as of January 2016 we are a fully approved, independent 501(c)(3) organization. Previously we were sponsored by the New Hampshire Association for the Blind (NHAB – now Future in Sight). In October 2017 we received our GuideStar Seal of Transparency under the 2020 Vision Quest name!
You can find our latest annual report here.
Q: Who are the board members of 2020 Vision Quest?
A: Initially, a very dedicated group of Randy’s friends came together to help him achieve the creation of 2020 Vision Quest. The board and staff have grown and changed, to meet the continually increasing needs of this highly successful charity effort. Visit our About us page to meet our board and staff members.
Q: Are there any paid employees of 2020 Vision Quest?
A: No; all our board members and staff are 100% volunteer.
Q: What kinds of programs am I supporting by helping 2020 Vision Quest?
A: In addition to raising funds for our two recipient charities Future in Sight (formerly New Hampshire Association for the Blind) and Guide Dogs for the Blind, 2020 Vision Quest’s mission also centers on Education and Inspiration.
We consider our primary efforts to be in the highly regarded school programs provided to thousands of students at no cost. Visit our Education Page for more information. We have presented to over 85,000 students in schools as of 2/1/2019!
We are ever aware of the emerging crisis in blindness as the Baby Boom generation ages and of the need to help them understand what a difference service organizations can make in the lives of the visually-impaired. We equally share the funds raised between the Internationally renowned Guide Dogs for the Blind and the Future in Sight (formerly New Hampshire Association for the Blind), with the intent to ensure those services are always available to those in need of them.
We continue to develop activities and materials in support of our mission of inspiration, tied to what Randy likes to call “Ability Awareness” – the idea that your response to overcome daunting challenges and not the challenges themselves is what defines you and others. True to our mission statement we attempt to lead by example for all those we reach with our life-changing positive messages.
Q: How much does it cost to run 2020 Vision Quest?
A: Our day-to-day operating costs are quite small; primarily costs for running our website, using online services to send out press releases, postage, some printing, and the like. We also reimburse Future in Sight for the cost of services they provide to our organization, largely accounting fees.
Q: How much of my donation goes to administrative costs?
A: After initial first-year startup costs, we operate at a mere 7% overhead with the balance of donations going directly to our two sponsored charities. This is less than our goal of administrative costs being no more than 10% of each donation. The balance supports our numerous programs, and our contributions to Future in Sight and Guide Dogs for the Blind. That means 93% of your donation goes directly to those in need!
Q: What portion of my gift might be used for fund raising?
A: As with all operational costs, we intend to minimize the budget for active fund raising. Our special events (such as our annual Peak Potential Dinner and Auction) independently provide the revenue to support the event cost and generate significant additional funds towards the charitable mission. We proudly continue to maintain operational costs at 7%.
Q: How much money does Randy get when I donate? Does it pay for his adventures or his Dog Guide’s food?
A: Randy received absolutely none of the donations personally for himself, his various adventures and not even for the dog food given to his beloved Dog Guides! Randy gave his time to 2020 Vision Quest strictly as an unpaid volunteer, as do all members of the board and staff. The money you give goes to support our programs and our two exceptional charities, Future in Sight and Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Q: What is Future in Sight? What is Guide Dogs for the Blind?
A: Future in Sight is an organization that provides support and rehabilitative services in every community in New Hampshire and bordering towns. They were instrumental in helping Randy learn the skills of living without eyesight. Guide Dogs for the Blind is one of the very few organizations in the US that raises and trains guide dogs, providing them at no cost to the blind.
Q: Why not donate directly to those two charities?
A: We believe (and our testimonials confirm) our educational outreach and school presentations provide a positive and powerful message which changes the lives of thousands of students and adults alike. While we provide these programs at no cost, our own motivation and inspiration is that this value add will inspire our community to support our shared vision.
You are welcome to donate directly to either or both; however, to accurately measure the fruits of our labor, we ask that you note with your contribution that you were inspired to give via 2020 Vision Quest.
Additionally, there is an advantage in donating to 2020 Vision Quest. Supporting our mission of reaching out, educating America about the growing crisis among the visually impaired, and inspiring people to reach beyond their perceived limitations has significant value in its own right — generating a snowball effect that will ultimately provide greater net contributions to these organizations.
Q: Is Randy really blind? Does he have any vision at all?
A: Randy abruptly lost complete vision in his right eye in 1989. Though he retained a small area of faint tunnel vision in his left eye for many years, in 2000 he became totally blind. While this total blindness, sometimes called NLP (No Light Perception), represents only 7% of the Blind Community, he understands being fully sighted through various stages of “Legal Blindness” leading to his complete blindness today.
Q: How does Randy climb a mountain? Does he climb sheer rock faces using ropes and pitons?
A: Climbing a mountain with ropes and pitons is called “technical climbing,” and while Randy has indeed done this, 2020 Vision Quest began with his goal to summit all 48 of the NH peaks rising above 4000 feet using trails which are vastly walkable. Initially, Quinn’s guide work provided the means for almost the entire hike. Together they developed a remarkable degree of communication and focus which let Randy progress along paths often full of obstacles like rocks, roots, logs, crevices, etc. There were times and terrain in which human guides were used to ensure better efficiency and safety for all members of the team. Invariably, they come away from the experience with a better understanding of just how remarkable Quinn’s contribution really was! You can see how Randy and Quinn work together by viewing some of the many videos found on our YOUTUBE channel.
Q: Does Autumn lead Randy up mountains?
A: Yes, Autumn has begun some initial dog guide work with Randy on mountain trails and we are very encouraged at her enthusiastic and talented work thus far. You can read how Randy and Autumn are progressing here.
Q: What is the most challenging part of climbing the mountains for Randy?
A: In Randy’s words:
“There are many challenging parts and so ultimately I’d like to provide two distinct and correct answers. Physically the hardest challenge is footing. The White Mountains are older mountains and as such the rock-strewn “trails” are exceedingly challenging for finding proper footing. Quinn did an amazing job of indicating the best possible options, and from there I must find the first point which is good enough to hold my foot and move me forward. This resets my foot several times and increases my work significantly while also often putting my foot in less than ideal positions from which I need to make the steps. There are some sections which are exceedingly challenging and I’m at a high level of mental and physical concentration. Thankfully there are more reasonable sections as well to give me a little respite!
Mentally I’m very desirous to be independent. I must balance my personal drive for accomplishment with consideration and appreciation for the impact of each of my decisions upon the group. I struggle internally to find the balance which ensures they can help in appropriate ways to maximize our efficiency and safety as well as ensure they allow me the freedom to accomplish reasonably within my abilities.”
Q: Do Randy’s dog guides get tired? Is it cruel to expect them to participate in these lengthy and sometimes grueling hikes?
A: Randy’s second dog guide, “The Mighty Quinn,” more than earned the nickname! To begin with, Quinn’s stamina surpassed most humans’ and regular visits to the vet ensured that hiking remained a positive experience for him. Randy takes the time and careful consideration to know all his Dog Guides. This was true for Ostend, Quinn and now Autumn as he strives to ensure he knows them better than most people know their best friends. Randy’s Dog Guides’ welfare is always foremost in Randy’s mind (and often vice versa!); after all, he’d be lost without these amazing Guides. As a little demonstration we encourage you to find video of their adventures when Quinn’s tail was not wagging to show his joy in the experiences they shared!
Q: How did Team 2020 prepare for these climbs? Is a lot of physical conditioning required?
A: As with most challenging things an appropriate amount of preparation is essential. One of Randy’s favorite quotes from John Wooten, “We do not plan to fail but rather fail to plan,” suggests that by careful advanced preparation, success is much more likely. The first step was to learn all that was required for these expeditions and then ensure we were ready from the standpoint of equipment, food and water, maps, teamwork, and of course the physical and mental conditioning. It was important that everyone had a reasonable idea of what to expect from the trip and what was expected of them.
The average climb may be less than 8 miles but the terrain is very challenging work which may take as many as 15 hours on our longest days. As such the physical training was taken very seriously and customized for the individuals involved.
Q: Are the hikes dangerous? Could Randy get hurt?
A: There is an element of danger to hiking, but most of it can be avoided through careful planning and cautious decision-making. Randy considers himself more of a problem-solver than a risk-taker, and the “extreme sports” approach that some people take with mountaineering is not part of the 2020 Vision Quest program. We planned our hikes thoroughly with safety in mind and included a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certified member on each hike. We logged our plans and trails with team members who were not on the hike, and carried safety equipment including a satellite position broadcast system, capable of alerting search and rescue teams with our exact location should this prove necessary.
Q: Does Randy fall on the trail? Has he ever gotten hurt?
A: Yes and yes. Remarkably, Randy’s falls are far fewer than one might expect given the rough ground conditions he has to navigate. Over the July 4th, 2010 Mt. Washington hike he fell two times, and in a later hike, he missed a step and banged his knee soundly on a rock. Remember that in addition to having been blind for 20 years, Randy is also a life-long athlete, having played basketball through his college years, and in more recent years, earning a black-belt in karate. His training helps him to fall in such a way as to minimize impact and physical harm.
Q: What happens if Randy gets injured on the trail, and can’t proceed with the hike?
A: While the official 2020 Vision Quest hikes are now complete, Randy and many of the team continue to enjoy hiking activities. The hiking team is always comprised of a group with experience and numbers to match the nature of the challenge anticipated. Risk Management involves making careful decisions to ensure an appropriate level of risk vs. reward for all experiences.
Q: Can I join Team 2020 on a hike?
A: We’ve completed the hiking quest and while Randy and many friends will continue to hike along with a host of other adventures, joining them is something you should bring up privately with them. Like many hikers they welcome sharing experiences for which they have a strong appreciation!
Q: What does Randy do when he’s not climbing mountains?
A: Randy has a very rich and rewarding life, with a very large group of dedicated friends who want to spend time with him and his wife, Tracy. He is a major fan of the New England Patriots and has many other hobbies. A very large slice of his time goes to running 2020 Vision Quest and accomplishing its many goals. These include public speaking engagements, addressing assemblies at schools, writing articles and blogs for our website, and fund-raising activities. Along with hiking, skiing, and tandem bicycle riding, he has taken an avid interest in running which includes his first Marathon (Cox-Providence) in which he qualified to run the 2015 Boston marathon! He has since run the Boston marathon several times as well as the California International Marathon.
Randy is also a member of the Hudson NH Lion’s Club, formerly serving as President. Adding to this he serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the NH Association for the Blind. Philanthropy and giving back to his community are important parts of his life’s mission.
Q: I’m an educator. How can I get Randy to visit our school?
A: Randy was a very popular speaker, presenting to almost 100,000 students during his time with 2020 Vision Quest. Unfortunately, with his appointment as President and CEO of Future In Sight he no longer performs school presentations for 2020 Vision Quest.
Q: Is Randy available to speak at my company? What does he charge?
A: Randy is a gifted public speaker, with a rich variety of topics that are meaningful and empowering to corporate audiences. If you are interested in having him speak to your company, please contact him at RPierce@futureinsight, or via phone at: 603-546-8542.
Q: Where can I see articles and previously broadcast stories about Randy and Quinn?
A: Visit our In the Media page.
Q: I’m a member of the Press and want to do a story on Randy or the 2020 Vision Quest programs. To whom should I speak?
A: You may reach Randy directly at 603-546-8542 or email RPierce@futureinsight