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April 2014 Graduate Class

Thank you to the very special people supporting this month’s graduation:

Meet our Residential Graduates
Ward and Lizzie
Melissa and Saki
Arnold and Thurber
Tracey and Starry
Mary Frances and Kibby
Mary Le and Trusty
Yevgeniya and Tigger
Kimberley and Perky
Jaydene and Licorice

Home Training Graduates
Krista and Chapman
John and Linus
Edward and Lass
Kevin and Gemini
Tom and Gus

Many thanks to our instructors
Dell Rodman, Class Supervisor
Kate Schroer-Shepord, Class Instructor
Kathryn Poallo, Class Instructor
Graham Buck, Home Training
Jessy DiNapoli, Home Training
Jim Gardner, Home Training
Michael Goehring, Home Training Field Rep
Susan Kroha, Special Needs Home Training
Shane Chadbourne, Instructor Assistant

Ward and LizzieWard and Lizzie

Ward was matched with his fifth Guiding Eyes guide dog; black Lab Lizzie will accompany him home to Alabama. Ward was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy at the age of six and became totally blind when he was 26. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Alabama and is the first blind volunteer to restore old aircrafts at the Southern Museum of Flight. He loves all planes, but helicopters are his absolute favorite. Lizzie enjoys her job and loves chewing on Nylabones during downtime. Together they will explore Ward’s vibrant hometown.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Nancy Long!

Melissa and SakiMelissa and Saki

Melissa from Massachusetts was matched with her fifth guide dog, a female yellow Labrador named Saki. Her vision loss is caused by a rare condition known as congenital complete achromatopsia. She is a graduate of Leslie University with degrees in human services, counseling and psychology. Melissa’s hobbies include writing poetry, reading and spending time with friends. She used a cane for the last four years and is looking forward to working with Saki. She describes her new dog as spunky and playful and a fantastic worker who enjoys praise and responds with joy. She shares “Walking in a crowd with a cane I am bound to hit people. Crowds may slow us down but Saki will maneuver me safely around everyone.”

Congratulations to puppy raiser Bridget Kennerley!

Arnold and ThurberArnie and Thurber

Arnie traveled from Maine for his fourth Guiding Eyes dog; he was matched with male black Lab Thurber. Arnie lost his vision due to retinitis pigmentosa. He is married and has children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. His guide dog gives him freedom to walk three to six miles a day – picking up groceries and running errands. He feels safer and more secure with Thurber, and the future holds many adventures for this team.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Madeleine Frank!

Tracey and StarryTracey and Starry

Not profiled.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Kim Moore and Katharine Oxley!

Mary and KibbyMary France and Kibby

New Jersey resident Mary Frances was matched with her first guide dog Kibby, a male yellow Lab. Mary Frances has macular degeneration as well as degeneration of her rod and cone. She’ll celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary this August and can’t wait to introduce Kibby to her husband, two children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Mary Frances majored in education at Jersey City State College. She started her career as a teacher but fell in love with nursing and worked as an RN for 40 years. She’s now retired but hasn’t slowed down; she volunteers at a local hospice and at the Foundation for the Blind. She also loves to read. Kibby entertains her with kisses and brings his food bowl to her when he finishes eating. He’ll have Mary Frances’ two-year-old Corgi as a playmate upon their return home.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Holly Voelker!

Mary Le and TrustyMary Le and Trusty

Mary Le and black Lab female Trusty will head home to North Carolina. Mary Le has been legally blind since 13 due to cone rod dystrophy. She has three grown children and three grandchildren. She is retired from a career in social work and now runs an eight-week support program for the Metroliner Association for the Blind. Mary Le serves as the Chapter President for the Mecklenburg County NFB. She sings with choir and loves flowers, gardening and reading. She also loves to dance, and has been taking lessons for 14 years.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Susan Porteous!

Zhenya and TiggerZhenya and Tigger

At 17, Zhenya was the youngest student in the April class. She was matched with male black Lab Tigger, and together they’ll attend her high school graduation in Massachusetts. Zhenya will spend a year at the Colorado Center for the Blind before starting college. She plays goalball and is a founding member and secretary for Vistars Organization, a non-profit group that supports people with visual impairments and raises awareness in the local community. Guide dog Tigger is playful until his harness goes on and then it’s all business as they fly down the street together.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Jane Skelton and Diane Clark!

Kim and PerkyKim and Perky

Kim is excited to be matched with a female black Labrador named Perky, her first guide dog. Her husband, daughter and son are thrilled for the team to return home to Pennsylvania.

Kim’s vision loss is due to retinitis pigmentosa. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Rhode Island and her master’s in counseling and human relations from Villanova. She now works as a mental health therapist. Her hobbies revolve around her children who fortunately share her passion for flowers and love to help her in the garden.

Kim can’t wait to have Perky join into her family’s adventures. She knows that traveling will be so much simpler, and shares a moment in which Perky swiftly and safely maneuvered Kim through a group of people. “She’s like superwoman!”

Congratulations to puppy raiser Camille Clifford!

Jaydene and LicoriceJaydene and Licorice

New Yorker Jaydene was matched with female black Lab Licorice, her first guide dog. Jaydene was born with congenital glaucoma. She grew up loving music and now works as a recording artist and performer. She earned her high school diploma from the New York Institute for the Blind and studied hospitality at the Statler Center for Careers. Jaydene is passionate about history and enjoys books about England, China, African history and religion. She can also spend hours reading marketing books. Licorice has already made travel safer and faster, and Jaydene looks forward to a world filled with new opportunities.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Christine Bohmer!

Congratulations to the puppy raisers of our home-training graduates: Barbara O’Connor for Chapman, Irene Cucurullo for Linus, Kathleen Collins for Lass, Barbara McCabe for Gemini and The Tait Family for Gus.