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April 2013 Graduate Class

April Class

Thank you to our April graduation sponsor, Sally Stokhamer.  “When God gave names to all the creatures on the earth, the sky and the sea, there was no name left for the most loyal of all.  Then God spoke and said, ‘I waited until I ran out of names then turned my own name back to front and called you dog my friend.’”

Meet our Residential Graduates
Maite & Tucker
LindaKay & Campbell
Dustin & Storm
Pasion & Theo
Linda & Varden
Fernando & Venti
Brian & Gaffney
Steve & Harlow
Sara & Judy
Alex & Tango
Lauri Ann & Nashoba
Dick & Griffin

Home Training Graduates
Marybeth & Rochelle

Many thanks to our instructors:
Dell Rodman, Class Supervisor
Jessy DiNapoli, ONCE Instructor
Graham Buck, Assistant Director of Training / Home Training Instructor
Woody Curry, Class Instructor
Kate Peterson, Class Instructor
Nicolette Wentz, Instructor Assistant

Maite and Tucker

Maite comes to Guiding Eyes through ONCE, an organization matching blind and visually impaired Spanish citizens with guide dogs.  An ongoing partnership has enabled Guiding Eyes to assist ONCE with the school’s five-year waiting list.  Maite returns home with her first guide dog, a male yellow Labrador named Tucker.

Stargardt disease caused Maite’s vision loss. Her parents encouraged her to excel in everything she did, proving that blindness would not be a barrier to success.  Maite attended mainstream public schools and studied English in Ireland.  She received a law degree and is now a family attorney.

Maite is married with three sons and spends much of her time raising her family.  She enjoys reading, opera music, and spending vacations aboard the family’s sailboat. She looks forward to the increased independence she’ll enjoy with Tucker, and shares that walking with her new guide dog feels like flying.

Congratulations to Alexandra Foucault  and John Nixon of the Erie Region.

LindaKay and Campbell
LindaKay was matched with her first guide dog – male German shepherd Campbell.

Macular degeneration caused LindaKay’s vision to deteriorate four years ago.  She was an avid motorcycle rider and owned an embroidery shop catering to the biker community.  She continues to embroider fabrics for charity organizations.   Nowadays, LindaKay is the only blind licensed nail technician in the state of Montana.   When not at work, she spends time with her three children and one grandchild.

“This is the next chapter of my life,” LindaKay shares.  “God took my eyes and gave me my guide dog so I can help the next person embarking on the journey.  Campbell seems to say, ‘don’t give up. Let’s walk the path together.’”

Congratulations to The Caamano Family of the  North Carolina Region.


Dustin and Storm
Dustin is from Kentucky.  He was the youngest student in the class and will celebrate his 21st birthday in July.  Male black Labrador Storm has been the very best birthday present he could imagine.

Dustin was born with retinitis pigmentosa.  He initially attended the Kentucky School for the Blind but graduated from a mainstream public high school.  He lives with his grandparents and has two older brothers.  Dustin currently teaches folk string music, guitar and banjo and regularly performs at outdoor venues and in nursing homes.   Dustin shares that while he’s always felt independent with his cane, Storm adds significant confidence to his travels.

Congratulations to Sydney Carncross of the Leatherstocking Region.


Pasion and Theo
Pasion traveled from Spain to be matched with male yellow Lab Theo, who she describes as the perfect partner.

Pasion’s vision loss was caused by retinitis pigmentosa and myopia.  She is married and has a daughter, three sons and one granddaughter.  Her current work is in lottery sales but Pasion looks forward to future retirement at the family home on the coast.  Hobbies include board games and walks around the countryside.  She is excited for all the future holds and is very happy about her experience at Guiding Eyes.

Congratulations to Sonya Greenberg of the  Northern CT Region.


Linda and Varden
Linda returns to Guiding Eyes for her third guide dog – male yellow Labrador Varden.  Varden will spend his summers in Canada and his winters in Florida.

Linda grew up hearing impaired and has cochlear implants.  Retinitis pigmentosa caused her to lose her vision gradually over many years.  Linda graduated from Ohio State University and went on to residency at the University of Pennsylvania.  She is now a board-certified veterinary dermatologist, a professor at U of Penn and a published author.

Linda is married with two children and likes cooking, gardening, reading, ballroom dancing, tandem biking, cross-country skiing and rowing.  She appreciates Guiding Eyes for the care in placement of retired dogs and the extensive follow-up support.  She couldn’t imagine a life without guide dogs, citing numerous experiences that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.  “I go everywhere independently.  I can go to the mall in another city because I have my guide dog.”

Congratulations to The Jennifer Mackesey Family of the Dominion Region.


Fernando and Venti
Fernando will return home to Spain with female yellow Lab Venti.

Fernando is married and has two brothers and many nieces and nephews. He was born with glaucoma and became totally blind at the age of 10.  He studied law at the University in Vasque and is a practicing attorney.  In his downtime, Fernando enjoys reading, listening to music and sports and spending time with friends and family.  He looks forward to showing Venti her new home in Spain and knows that through compassion and trust they’ll become a great team.

Congratulations to Fred & Sue Hurwitz of the New Hampshire Region and Kelly Walsh of the New York City Region.



Brian and Gaffney
Brian traveled from Montana and was matched with male black Labrador Gaffney.

Brian lost his sight in a car accident.  He works summers as a hard rock miner and winters as a cowboy.  In addition, Brian is the referral person for blind and visually impaired people seeking services within Montana. Dancing has been his biggest passion, and Brian has won the Montana jitterbug championship for the last three years. He also enjoys spending time with his three children and four grandchildren.

Walking to work will be a very positive change for Brian; he knows Gaffney will make all of his travel significantly easier.

Congratulations to Kelly Coney Pacious of the North Carolina Region.



Steve and Harlow
Steve will return to New Jersey with female yellow Labrador Harlow, his first guide dog.

Steve enlisted in the Marines in the early seventies.  He served for over four years as a Private First Class before being honorably discharged and attending Queens College.  He worked as a printing press mechanic and installed presses all over the world.  An antique collecting hobby ultimately turned into a career and Steve opened his own antiques shop in 2012.  Harlow’s spot in the store is already reserved.

When Steve was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, he was determined to maintain his active, busy lifestyle.  He spent many hours practicing his orientation and mobility skills until he was able to qualify for a guide dog. Steve looks forward to introducing Harlow to his wife, two sons and four grandchildren.  He plays beep baseball with the New Jersey Lightning, is a member of the National Beep Baseball Association and competes in the NBBA Beep Baseball World Series.  Time with Harlow will certainly be a mix of work and play!

Congratulations to Jacob Rucquoi of the Southwestern CT Region.


Sara and Judy
New Yorker Sara was matched with Judy, a black Lab and her fifth guide dog.

Sara’s Usher Syndrome has caused her to experience both hearing and vision loss throughout her lifetime.  She loves children and has a successful career as a babysitter.  She’s also raised her own son and daughter and spends tons of time with her grandson and two granddaughters.  Sara spends time volunteering in nursing homes, crocheting and taking long walks.  Her retired guide dog will stay with her, and she can’t wait to introduce the two.

Congratulations to Jason Wanek of the Eastern Massachusetts Region.



Alex and Tango
Connecticut resident Alex was matched with male yellow Lab Tango, his second guide dog.

Alex was born with Lebers congenital amaurosis and is totally blind. He attended Western New England University and received a bachelor’s degree in information technology.  He now works at a small tech company as the assistant IT administrator.  Alex saw the independence a guide dog gave his friend and mentor and applied to Guiding Eyes at the age of 16.  First guide dog Pedro accompanied him to college, making it easy to navigate the campus.  Retired Pedro will become good friends with Tango.  Alex describes Tango as very affectionate, always alert and a very fast walker.

Congratulations to The Marth Family of the Erie Region.



Lauri Ann and Nashoba
Lauri Ann is a first time guide dog user from Montana. She is matched with a male black Labrador named Nashoba.

Lauri Ann has Eales disease, an extremely rare eye disease that causes retinal vasculitis. She owned several beauty salons before retiring in 2011.  She has always loved the outdoors and spends time hiking, water skiing, snowmobiling and four wheeling.  Her other hobbies include singing and playing guitar.  Lauri Ann is looking forward to introducing Nashoba to her husband and 16-year-old daughter.  She’s learning how life continues after vision loss and she hopes to empower others to realize that life has changed – but not ended.

Congratulations to  Jonathan Furey & Family of the Richmond Region.



Dick and Griffin
Dick received Griffin, a male black Labrador and his 8th Guiding Eyes dog.  They’ll head home to Oregon.

Dick has been totally blind since birth due to retinopathy of prematurity.  He graduated from a mainstream high school and then attended trade school to learn piano tuning.  He opened his own business in 1962 and didn’t switch gears until 1973, when he began teaching assistive technology.

Last July, Dick decided it was time to retire and enjoy his family: his wife, two children, three grandchildren and one great grandchild.  He loves to read, travel, play with electronics, take long walks and share meals with family and friends.  Griffin loves to work and the team has already forged a strong bond.

Congratulations to Nelson Pixley of the Prince William Region.