By Kathy Dunn
For many of us we read about Randy’s speaking engagements and the interactions he has with the children in our communities. However we don’t always have a chance to see them firsthand.
I was lucky to have this chance as I traveled with Randy from Dover, New Hampshire to Portland, Maine. I watched a great deal of these speaking engagements through my camera lens, which I hope gives you a chance to see Randy sharing his message.
Our morning began at Woodland Park Elementary School in Dover. We received a wonderful greeting at the door from Donavan who would be introducing Randy to his entire school. Donavan is in the second grade, and like Randy, he is blind. He read his introduction using Braille and with much exuberance told his fellow classmates that Randy climbs mountains, has a dog named The Mighty Quinn, and asked “Did you know he is also blind like me?”
The students were incredibly attentive to Randy and I am certain it wasn’t only because of his cute dog. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I probably took 15 pictures of Quinn alone in his cute dog poses.) Students asked thoughtful questions and kept their hands raised in hopes of being able to ask the next question.
Portland, Maine was our next stop to speak to the students at East End Community School. They heard about some of Randy’s initial challenges and the progression of his vision loss. Randy also talked about the work that Quinn provides for him and the independence it continues to give him in his life.
Most importantly, Randy communicated his message encouraging children to accomplish the things they want in their life. Randy’s words: if they try… if they work hard… they can do it. Don’t give up in the face of the challenges. Keep working. You can do it.
These words were well received to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade students as well as this student of life.
If having three presentations thus far was not enough, we dropped in at WCSH Channel 6 as Randy was being interviewed by Rob Cadwell for their “207” program. After the interview, Quinn got the “Off Duty” call from Randy and could enjoy some hard earned love from some of his new fans.
Our day did not stop there as we were now headed to the University of Southern Maine to attend the Guiding Eyes of Maine event. I learned something new about Quinn and I think we now share something in common: we like puppies.
Now, the Mighty Quinn is diligent in his work like none other and always the consummate canine professional. But you put a few other canine professionals in the room and it is like a reunion!
“Hiiiiiiiiii! I’m Quinn! Who are you?!?!?! I am so excited to see you!!!!! Oh wait… was I supposed to be taking Randy someplace right now?”
While Randy was doing some meet and greets before his next speaking engagement, I headed over to the see the future canine professionals… the pups!
The finale of our day was Randy speaking to an audience of all different ages and all different abilities about his journey and his future. As it was said in the introduction of Randy “[he] makes the most out of life and will make you want to do the same.”
We all have abilities in our lives. Some come with known and unknown challenges, however we need to see beyond them. We need to work beyond them.
We can’t have these challenges hold us back. We can get to where we want to be. Simply put… we can.