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August 2009 Graduates Class

And many thanks to our instructors:

Cesar Cabrera and Eleanor

“Alone” no more

Cesar Cabrera came to Guiding Eyes for the Blind from Puerto Rico for Eleanor, his first guide dog. His blindness was caused by keratoconus. Cesar was raised in Florida, entered the military at the age of 17, and went on to graduate from Central Texas College – Inter-American University of Puerto Rico. He is today a Supervisor of Distribution and Operation at the US Postal Service in Puerto Rico.

Cesar shares his home with his wife and three children, ages 8 to 18. He uses VA tech equipment to facilitate his strong passion for reading, but also enjoys going to the beach and movies with his family.

While here, Cesar realized that he will no longer be “alone” as he moves about. “Walking without a cane, and the total learning experience that was administered with compassion and love here at Guiding Eyes, has literally transformed my life.”

Sister Lupita Cordero and Beasley

Guiding Eyes dog to bring safety and companionship to busy nun

Notre Dame Sister Lupita Cordero, 65, arrived from Illinois to be partnered with Beasley, her first guide dog. Born with retinitis pigmentosa, Sister Lupita experienced notable vision loss shortly after her 50th birthday but just recently, at the urging of a social worker, applied to Guiding Eyes. Raised in a family with seven siblings (three sisters and four brothers), Lupita has an optimistic, people-oriented personality that has greatly contributed to her personal fulfillment as a teacher and spiritual leader.

Sister Lupita believes that Beasley will make her feel more secure, and she welcomes the responsibility of caring for her precious guide. Awarding Guiding Eyes for the Blind an “E for Excellence of Training,” she was impressed that the instructors were consistently respectful, patient, and clearly gave instruction. “May God bless you, Guiding Eyes for the Blind.”

Vivi Dabee and Yonkers

“Academic Dragon” from Canada returns for her second dog

Traveling from central Canada, returning graduate Vivi Dabee is currently pursuing a career as an English professor. She was diagnosed with glaucoma at birth, but it wasn’t until she was in her twenties that she decided to pursue a guide dog. It was a segment on NBC’s “Dateline” that impressed her enough to apply her first guide dog, who is now retired at home.

Vivi calls herself an “an academic dragon,” her interests include writing poetry and singing.

Vivi predicts that Yonkers will bolster her self confidence when traveling, especially on Manitoba University’s large campus. “Guiding Eyes for the Blind is better than ever – where dedication, time and effort by each student and instructor produce a highly functioning team.”

Sharone Frankowski and Dale

Guiding Eyes dog returns widow to her active life

Sharone started losing her eyesight when she was a teenager, as a result of retinitis pigmentosa. Before she lost all her sight, she was employed as a school bus driver, for her father’s a messenger service, and as a product demonstrator. Finally, after becoming widowed and a grandmother to her daughter’s two children, Sharone realized it time to address her sight problem. This fun-loving, friendly Midwesterner has always enjoyed fishing in Lake Michigan, and also loves to swim, cook and read books on tape. She believes that having her new guide Dale at her side, her life will again be full; she will no longer be lonely, dependent and immobile, and Dale seems to understand his role perfectly. Sharone’s experience at Guiding Eyes has also fulfilled her quest to become patient. “The instructors here are fabulous – the school facilities are wonderful, comfortable and just like home – in fact, I don’t miss not being there at all.”

Kate Lawson and Barbie

Psychology student focused on long-term goal

Kate Lawson, a sophomore at Goucher College, came to Guiding Eyes after studying the school’s website and learning how our graduates’ lives have been enhanced by their dogs. She is blind as a result of achromatopsia, a genetic disorder, and is determined to attain her PhD in Psychology.

Kate loves to read and take walks but most of all, sing – especially Broadway show tunes. Kate has already fallen in love with obedient, playful and intelligent Barbie, her new canine companion and guide. She says of Barbie’s future impact on her life: “My environment will be less confining – Barbie will enable me to move about and off campus more. I have truly been amazed at the bonding which has already taken place between Barbie and me. It’s really great here – you could never find a better place, instructors, dogs or classmates anywhere in the world.”

Laurel Murphy and Patricia

First-time graduate embraces the bonding process

Pennsylvanian Laurel Murphy, 25, was truly impressed by the consistent good behavior and effectiveness of Guiding Eyes dogs. Blind since birth as a result of retinopathy of prematurity, she came here for Patricia, her very first guide dog. Laurel has made “obtaining and establishing a loving relationship with my guide dog” her most important goal this year.

Laurel resides in an apartment and enjoys music, cooking, and working on computers. She walks at least one mile as a daily regimen. She anticipates that “Patricia will force me to maintain a schedule, motivate me to get out more and certainly give me a sense of safety when I travel.”

Aaron Richmond and Nonnie

Teen with political and musical aspirations receives first guide

Aaron Richmond, 18, is a high school senior from Maryland, and Nonnie is his first guide dog. Born with glaucoma, Aaron is self-described as knowledgeable, serious and hard working, a political conservative who is strongly motivated to make a name for himself in politics or law after college. Aaron is a flutist who performs at school presentations; he is considering using this talent to pursue a future in professional orchestra management. This is a young man who seems likely to turn his dreams into reality.

Aaron is excited about bringing Nonnie into his life, and expects that his energetic canine will encourage and expand his interaction with colleagues and friends. With sincere gratitude to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Aaron had this to say: “Every day here is special. This is an exceptional school. The staff is well trained and they really attend to the individual needs of each student.”

Adnana Saric and Yani

College freshman is already an accomplished writer

A tour of Guiding Eyes last year, and learning of the school’s high success rate, convinced 18-year-old Midwesterner Adnana Saric to enroll this month to be partnered with Yani, her first guide dog. Adnana lost all sight at nine months old. Adnana is a first-year student at Loyola University, with plans for a career in psychology and social work.

Adnana’s major hobby also fulfills her creative talent: she is an author of poetry, short stories and a novel. She looks forward to relying on Yani’s ability to help in her travels and getting around campus, and she also cherishes the feeling of devotion and love that has already developed between them. “I had no idea how much joy and comfort you can receive from loving a dog.” Finding Guiding Eyes for the Blind “a home away from home,” she now says with conviction: “I’m so glad I came. It’s so much better than I ever anticipated.”