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July 2015 Graduating Class

July Graduating Class
July Graduating Class

Thank you to the sponsors of this month’s class:

Residential Graduates:

Alycia & Edlyn
Anna & Gingham
Christina & Pearl
Heidi & Aruba
Jerry & Simone
Joshua & Noriko
Kathy & Nacho
Kiana & Hero
Lynda & Gregory

ACTION Training Program:
Joseph & Galahad
Yusef & Schubert

Home Training Program
Julaine & Sara
Kenneth & Wagner
Margaret & Doralee
Sally & Laurence
Shawn & Kiara

Many thanks to our instructors:
Jolene Hollister, Class Supervisor
Michelle Tang, Class Instructor
Shannon McGee, Class Instructor
Susan Kroha, Special Needs Instructor
Andrea Martine, Special Needs Instructor
Julie Angle, Special Needs Instructor
Graham Buck, ACTION Instructor
Jim Gardner, Home Training Instructor
Megan Crowley, Home Training Instructor
Mike Goehring, Field Representative
Emily Nestlerode, Instructor Assistant


Jerry & SimoneJerry and Simone

Jerry has come to Guiding Eyes for his first guide dog, a female black Labrador named Simone.
Jerry lost the vision in his right eye in 2008 when his retina detached. In March 2013, the retina in his left eye began detaching. Surgery saved the eye, but he is extremely light sensitive. Jerry contacted agencies and learned to live independently which brought him to his current career teaching others with vision loss self-advocacy and life skills.
Before losing his sight, Jerry was a plumber for 30 years and later a phlebotomist. He is a Harley Davidson fan and still has his 1978 Pan Head. Jerry started wood carving two years ago and sells his carvings to raise money for Guiding Eyes. He is writing a book titled Life After Sight. Jerry reflects that his cane was slow and limiting; Simone is his “faster set of wheels” and will help him raise awareness about the possibilities available to others who are blind or visually impaired.

Congratulations to Simone’s puppy raisers – Maribeth Stoffi, Caitlyn Landry and the Newman Family!

Yusef & Schubert


Yusef and Schubert

Yusef is a federal prosecutor working at the U.S. Attorneys Office in Chicago. Schubert, a male black Labrador, is his second guide dog. They are in the accelerated ACTION program which offers ten days on campus in Yorktown and five days with an instructor at home. The program is condensed, focused and works for students with limited time away from work.
Yusef has been legally blind since birth due to retinitis pigmentosa. He attended the University of Illinois for both his undergraduate degree in corporate finance and his law degree. Yusef describes himself as analytical and believes in advocacy. With a high-pressure job, Yusef maintains balance in his life by listening to live music, reading and traveling. He shares, “A cane is an imprecise way of walking. Building columns and flower pots offer an inconsistent line. It is work walking with a cane. With Schubert, I just hold on and follow him.” Yusef is looking forward to getting back to the farmer’s market with Schubert. “My last guide always found my favorite cheese vendor,” he shares. “I hope Schubert follows in his paw steps and does the same.”

Congratulations to Schubert’s puppy raiser – The Newman Family!

Kiana & HeroKiana and Hero

Kiana will be a junior at the University of North Carolina Greensboro in September. She is looking forward to sharing campus life with her first guide dog, a male yellow Labrador named Hero.
A condition which increases the pressure inside the skull and optic nerve called pseudo-tumor cerebri caused Kiana’s vision loss. She is able to see light and shadows. Kiana graduated from the local community college with an associate’s degree in the arts, preparing her with core requirements for her bachelor’s degree. She enjoys reading and composing her own stories and spending time with her two brothers and sister.
There are a lot of changes ahead and Hero will be by her side to help her navigate the campus, take public transportation and go shopping. She is surprised and happy with how quickly she is bonding with Hero. He understands her pace and knows how to maneuver around obstacles. She shares, “With a cane I can end up in the middle of the road. Hero guides me safely from curb to curb.”

Congratulations to Hero’s puppy raisers – Debra & Stephen Nolan!

Anna & Gingham


Anna and Gingham

Anna will return home to North Carolina with Gingham, a female yellow Labrador and her first guide dog.
Anna’s vision impairment is caused by pilocytic astrocytoma, a brain tumor she was diagnosed with at the age of 14. She attends public high school and will start her senior year this fall. Anna is the oldest of three girls and is the first student in her school with a visual impairment and a guide dog. She expects it to be an adjustment for her classmates when Gingham is working, but is up to the challenge. Anna described bonding with Gingham as better than anticipated, saying “It’s not all work. I woke up the other day to find his head resting on the side of the bed waiting for me to get up.” She hopes to be interviewed again for the school yearbook, this time sharing her journey with Gingham.

Congratulations to Gingham’s puppy raisers – Arielle Escobar and Ryan Houseman!


Lynda & GregoryLynda and Gregory

Lynda is from New York. Her husband and her retired guide and their rescue dog are waiting for her to return home with Gregory, a yellow Labrador. He is her eighth guide dog and fourth dog from Guiding Eyes.
Lynda’s vision loss is caused by a genetic disorder known as Sticklers Syndrome which affects vision, hearing and joints. She is totally blind and wears hearing aids in both ears. Lynda competed in 1976 with the first United States Olympic team for those who are blind taking the gold medal in the 100 meter backstroke. She took silver in the freestyle and bronze in the triple jump (track and field) two years later at the Nationals. Lynda’s hobbies include cooking, baking, knitting, reading and exercising. She is a licensed clinical social worker and holds a bachelor’s degree from Empire State College and master’s degree from SUNY Albany. Lynda was the program director at a homeless shelter. She is excited to get home with Gregory, her “gentle giant with the kindest heart.”

Congratulations to Gregory’s puppy raiser – The Meler Family!


Josh & NorikoJosh and Noriko

Josh is a high school graduate who will be attending Northern Illinois University this fall. He has been partnered with a female yellow Labrador named Noriko, his first guide dog.
Josh has no usable vision as a result of Pars Planitis, an inflammatory disease which caused detachment of both retinas. He is the middle child in his family and has an older brother and a younger sister. Josh enjoys listening to music, playing piano, yoga and participating in any activity that takes him outside. He is interested in teaching those with visual impairment. Noriko brings a new sense of independence Josh never had before, and offers an added dimension to his life. She’s a companion who is always with him, an aid to navigate the college campus, and a social bridge. Josh is very excited to begin this next chapter in his life with Noriko.

Congratulations to Noriko’s puppy raiser – The Newton Family!


Kathy & NachoKathy and Nacho

Kathy has been matched with her fourth guide dog, a male yellow Labrador named Nacho.
Kathy’s vision loss was caused by cone rod dystrophy. She is the Indiana Teacher of the Year and has been a high school teacher for 23 years. Kathy teaches tenth grade English, senior year college composition, and creative writing. She is a published author of two books, one of poetry and another called Two Plus Four Equals One, available on Amazon.
As Indiana Teacher of the Year, Kathy will be traveling around the state for the next 12 months. She will be speaking about succeeding in a regular public classroom despite her visual impairment and will educate people about disability and guide dogs. Kathy reached the final four competing for the National Teacher of the Year title. Her life for next year will be filled with travel and speaking engagements and is very unpredictable. Thus, Kathy needed a resilient, calm and steady guide – all the qualities found in Nacho. Kathy blogs for the Huffington Post and makes jewelry, the proceeds of which are donated back to Guiding Eyes.

Congratulations to Nacho’s puppy raiser – The Schatz Family!


Heidi & ArubaHeidi and Aruba

Heidi traveled from Pennsylvania for her second guide dog, a female yellow Labrador named Aruba.
Heidi’s vision loss was caused by retinopathy of prematurity. She also has Menieres disease. Heidi is married and has three grown children. She is a vision rehab teacher for the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services and supports clients in four counties. Heidi is responsible for children 12 and under, some with multiple challenges like visual impairment and autism, making the job challenging and fun. Heidi relaxes with gardening and has a small greenhouse on her deck. Her son is teaching her the ukulele. She shares, “I feel more professional with a guide dog. The cane is inhibiting. I feel normal again and people treat me better with Aruba.”

Congratulations to Aruba’s puppy raiser – Beth Spivack


Alycia & EdlynAlycia and Edlyn


Graduate was not profiled.


Congratulations to Edlyn’s puppy raisers – Bethany and Rebecca Reinhardt!




Joe & GalahadJoe and Galahad

Joe has returned for his sixth guide dog and is matched with a male yellow Labrador named Galahad. He is the second student in the accelerated ACTION program.
Leiber’s congenital amaurosis caused Joe’s visual impairment. He has been married for 45 years and has many nieces and nephews. Joe graduated from Alfred University with a bachelor’s in mathematics and went on to Cornell Law School. He is a retired lawyer who has worked in the City of New York Law Department and taught law at the University of Baltimore and Nova Southeastern University. Joe is enjoying retirement taking guitar lessons, listening to music and going to the gym. He and his wife travel to Colorado for downhill skiing and he uses a voice activated radio with a guide. They spend summers in Wisconsin where Joe is looking forward to daily walks with Galahad.

Congratulations to Galahad’s puppy raiser – Joseph Gruber!

Christina & Pearl


Christina and Pearl



Graduate was not profiled


Congratulations to Pearl’s puppy raisers – Susan & Roger L’Hommendieu!



Congratulations to the raisers of guide dogs placed through July Home Trainings:
Doralee: Susan Bakaley & CHris Marshall
Kiara: Yvonne Rugg
Laurence: Madison Graupman
Sara: Mr. & Mrs. Robert Farrar
Wagner: Dona Kauth