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April 2015 Graduating Class

April 2015 Graduation
April 2015 Graduating Class

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

Residential Graduates:

Home Training Graduates:

Many thanks to our instructors:

“Mac” and Dane
Mack traveled from North Carolina for his first guide dog, a German shepherd named Dane.
Mack earned his associate’s degree in psychology from Holmes Bible College. An art scholarship enabled him to continue his education at the North Carolina College of Theology. He then ran a guard dog training school where he provided security dogs for businesses; the dogs worked in shifts and lived in kennels at his home.
Mack enjoyed martial arts as both student and instructor before switching his attention to the music world. He now performs with bluegrass and gospel groups. In his free time, he likes to paint scenes relating to his Cherokee heritage. Married with three children and five grandchildren, his family is very excited to meet Dane. Mack shares, “Dane is beautiful with a loving personality. We love to work during the day and play in the evenings!”

Congratulations to Dane’s puppy raiser – The Stephens Family!

Sarah and VantageSarah and Vantage
Indiana resident Sarah has been matched with her second guide dog, a yellow Labrador named Vantage.
Sarah has a bachelor’s degree in dance from Florida International University and a master’s degree in counseling from Barry University. She is also dual certified as a mental health counselor and marriage and family specialist.
Sarah lived and worked in Florida for 13 years but returned to Indiana to open her own counseling practice and to be near her two sisters and extended family. Retiring her first guide a few months ago, Sarah is fortunate to own her home and keep her retired guide as a pet. Sarah stays active, varying her workouts between yoga, kickboxing, lifting weights, dancing and swimming.
Sarah shares, “Using a cane or depending on others while between guide dogs was stressful and overwhelming and I started to limit the things I did. I am excited to start new things again.”

Congratulations to Vantage’s puppy raiser – Doug Ulwick!

Harry and Lansing
Harry returns to Guiding Eyes for his second guide dog and has been matched with a German shepherd named Lansing.
Harry lost his vision in 2007 as a result of a tumor that required his optic nerve be removed. A student of the University of Michigan, Harry graduated with a Bachelor of Science in atmospheric and oceanic science, as well as a master’s degree in construction engineering and management and business management. Harry went on to work as a management consultant in the construction industry.
Harry enjoys traveling and will occasionally go bowling. In his spare time he also gives presentations designed to educate children and doctors about blindness and the organizations and services available to people with visual impairments. He shares, “I am stronger as a blind person than as a sighted person. You can’t read a book by its cover when you are blind. I am learning to appreciate life from all different perspectives.”

Congratulations to Lansing’s puppy raiser – Kenneth & Patricia Rounds!

Mitch and Anakin
Mitch, a father of four from Nebraska, is excited to welcome male yellow Labrador Anakin into the family.
Mitch’s sight impairment is caused by retinitis of prematurity, a result of too much oxygen during premature birth. Having worked with computers since high school, Mitch is the Information Technology Facilitator for Outlook Nebraska.
Mitch has varied hobbies, enjoying everything from being a ham radio operator to a certified open water scuba diver. Most of Mitch’s time is spent with his family and he teaches his teens to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. When asked the difference between using a cane and working with a guide dog, he shares, “The biggest thing when you walk with a guide dog is speed. With Anakin, I can walk three to four miles an hour.”

Congratulations to Anakin’s puppy raisers – Miriam & Sean Grogan!

Doris and Janice

Doris comes to Guiding Eyes from Canada and has been matched with her first guide dog, a female yellow Labrador named Janice.
Doris grew up with severe myopic vision caused by a hereditary condition known as lattice retinal degeneration. Previously, Janice worked in accounting, but due to her loss of vision, was forced to retire. At home, Janice lives with and is also the primary caregiver for her husband who has Alzheimer’s disease. Doris and her husband moved back to the neighborhood she grew up in, where everything is in walking distance and the bus stop is outside her front door.
Doris is looking forward to the calmness and confidence Janice brings to her life, and together they will take long walks, attend acrylic painting classes and travel. The summer will find the trio spending time at their trailer alongside a beautiful lake, traveling to London and possibly many other places across the globe. Janice will not only provide a significant sense of companionship for Doris, but also for her husband as well.

Congratulations to Janice’s puppy raiser – Elora Hixon!

Brian and Ivanka
Brian, a father of two from North Carolina, has been matched with his first guide dog, a female yellow Labrador named Ivanka.
Brian had low vision that rapidly deteriorated before being diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. He worked as a heavy equipment and crane operator and currently volunteers twice a week at a local food pantry. He’s also a member of his local Lion’s Club.
Brian is excited about the difference Ivanka brings to his mobility. He can’t wait to return home with her where they will enjoy bowling, fishing and days at the beach. “A trip to the grocery store is no longer daunting,” Brian shares, “Ivanka walks me around obstacles. It is so different from using a cane, so very liberating.”

Congratulations to Ivanka’s puppy raiser – Daniel Connors!

Xander and Dixon
Xander was matched with male German shepherd Dixon.Xander and Dixon
Congenital glaucoma, cataracts and retinopathy of prematurity caused Xander’s vision loss. A college graduate with a degree in computer science, Xander works at the Cleveland Sight Center as a call center quality analyst. He loves computers, technology and learning about new accessible technology for the blind and visually impaired.
Passionate about animals, Xander trains dogs to compete in AKC sponsored events and fosters dogs from local shelters. His guide dogs have opened worlds he didn’t even know existed. He shares, “You don’t realize how life is different until you have a guide dog. It is a bit like traveling from an overcast place to a place with a wonderful climate. Once you get there, you immediately appreciate the difference.” Each guide dog has taught Xander something new about himself, and he is excited to return home with Dixon and introduce him to his husband, two cats and her retired guide.

Congratulations to Dixon’s puppy raiser – Maureen Dinner!

Doug and Phineas
Doug, a father of twin girls, has come to Guiding Eyes for his first guide dog, Phineas, a male yellow Labrador.
Doug’s vision loss is a result of diabetic retinopathy. With two Bachelor of Science degrees in electro mechanical and business from Southeast Community College and Bellview University, he works at Outlook Nebraska training low vision and blind employees to use adaptive technology. His position requires travel outside the office and Phineas provides an easy way to navigate unfamiliar locations.
Doug’s neighborhood is a mix of shoreline and sidewalks, which are challenging with a cane, but no problem for his guide dog. Doug is looking forward to walking faster and being able to focus on his fiancé instead of finding the obstacles in his path. Though he has had pet dogs all his life, Phineas is unique in that his attitude is playful and funny until he is in harness and it is time to work.

Congratulations to Phineas’s puppy raiser – The DeCicco Family!

Congratulations to the raisers of the guide dogs placed through April Home Training:
Bette: Ellen & Bob Higgins
Gerry: The Oonk Family
Magee: Mr. & Mrs. Bocciarelli
Hardy: Grace & Alex Shapiro
Thank you!