A Snapshot of 2012
So many incredible people came through our doors last year. Whether they were here for guide dogs or autism service dogs, they all headed home with a renewed sense of hope. As not everyone can make it to Yorktown for our graduation ceremonies; we’d like to tell you about just a few of the graduates that touched our lives in 2012.
In January, our very own colleague Becky Barnes was matched with her third guide dog, yellow Labrador Lawson. We’ve watched as Becky and Lawson have grown together as a team – sometimes it’s hard to keep up with them in the hallway! Becky shares, “One of my only regrets is not getting a guide dog sooner; the ability to walk confidently with my dog gives me an indescribable sense of freedom.”
February grad Barbara Henning was matched with Hannah – a lucky yellow Lab who will get to regularly hear her handler’s beautiful voice; listen to Barbara sing You Raise Me Up at her class graduation ceremony. Guiding Eyes Kerry is a wonderful partner-in-crime to March grad Suzanne Brown – this team will spend parts of their winter on the slopes during Ski for Light!
Black Labrador Boston was specially trained for April graduate, Alberto Gonzales. Alberto is Deaf-Blind and uses hand signals to communicate with his guide dog. Jose Lopez-Masso graduated in May with his guide dog, Hartley. As development director for The Lighthouse, Jose travels all over Florida as an advocate for the blind and visually impaired – with Hartley always by his side.
June grad Marisa Cartiglia recently started college in New York City. Having Guiding Eyes Ada by her side has given her the confidence to tackle the city’s busy public transportation systems. Our July class received their dogs on Independence Day, and DJ Robinson was matched with black Lab Genoa. This team has a lot to look forward: DJ hopes to compete in the 2016 Paralympics.
Jamie Berger shared these thoughts at the August graduation: “I am 27 years old and up until now, I had to experience the world through other people’s eyes. I could never be independent because it wasn’t safe for me to go out on my own. On August 1, I met Katerina – and it was the happiest day of my life. It is a miracle to have a best friend who loves me and keeps me safe, while allowing me to experience life on my own.”
Our second Heeling Autism class of the year graduated in September. Service dogs Daryl, Indo, Gabriel, Gibbs and Nixon have already been the catalyst for so many positive changes in their families’ lives. Learn more about these special Heeling Autism dogs here.
Radio personality Bill Jurek graduated with his third Guiding Eyes dog in our October / November class. And to cap off a year in review, we spent time with Domonique Lawless in December; this young graduate heads off to finish a master’s degree in orientation and mobility, with the aptly named yellow Lab “Taxi” by her side.
We invite you to attend a future graduation, and to experience an emotional ceremony that often defies description. Check out 2013 graduation dates here.