August 2013 Graduate Class
Special recognition and thanks to our 2013 Graduation Sponsor, Sally Stokhamer, and our August sponsor, Janice Smith.
Meet our Residential Graduates
Jeff & Hamlin
Donna & Lasha
Brandohn & Taft
Sammy & Langley
Rose & Oliver
Becky & Tatum
Jazmin & Floral
Nicholas & Archer
Carol & John
Lori & Gisela
Lu Ann & Lucky
Home Training Graduates
Shirley & Namath
Many thanks to our instructors
Melinda Angstrom, Class Supervisor
Andrea Martine, Special Needs Instructor
Chrissy Vetrano, Class Instructor
Jamie Viezbicke, Class Instructor
Jim Gardner, Home Training Instructor
Shane Chadbourne, Instructor Assistant
Jeff traveled from California for his first guide dog. He was matched with a male yellow Labrador named Hamlin.
Jeff has retinitis pigmentosa and has some light perception. He graduated from high school in 1992 and plans to go back to college fairly soon; he’ll focus on medical science and hopes to find a career in that field. Jeff’s hobbies include computer work and connecting with people through a radio scanner. He chose Guiding Eyes for the length of the training program, the accommodations and the variety of experiences and transportation options he would learn with his guide dog. So far, each day with Hamlin has gotten better and better. It was many years since Jeff was able to travel at night; during the class’s evening walk in Katonah, Hamlin guided him safely and the experience was magical. He looks forward to traveling in his home area with full confidence that Hamlin will get him where he needs to go.
Congratulations to Puppy Raisers The Gentry Family, Virginia Beach Region.
Donna is from Massachusetts and was matched with Lasha, a female black Labrador and her first guide dog.
Donna was born legally blind and has developed cataracts. She is the single mom of a 14-year-old daughter, works part time at local thrift shop and volunteers with a Bible study group. She plans to return to the workforce fulltime when her daughter goes to college. She relaxes with a good novel and enjoys walking, shopping and running errands.
Donna comes from a family of seven. Her mom always encouraged her to do everything her brothers and sisters did; she played basketball, learned how to ride a bike and excelled at the monkey bars. The latter helped her survive when she fell down a 150 foot well at the age of seven. Donna looks forward to new independence with Lasha by her side.
Congratulations to Puppy Raisers Carol Haas, Janet Cody and Pat, Kiera and Malakai Geraghty, Eastern CT Region.
New Yorker Brandohn was matched with his first guide dog, a male yellow Labrador named Taft.
Brandohn began to lose his vision in second grade. He is very active in sports and regularly competes in wrestling and swimming. He particularly enjoys playing goalball and hopes to one day represent the United States at the Paralympics. (Goalball is a team sport specifically designed for blind athletes; players score by throwing or rolling a ball into their opponents’ goal. Bells are embedded into the ball so players can determine its whereabouts.) Brandohn knows that Taft will significantly improve his life; he looks forward to attending Dutchess Community College and majoring in history and education.
Congratulations to Puppy Raisers The Swift Family, Central NY Region.
Sammy now lives in North Carolina. He was matched with his first guide dog, a male black Labrador named Langley.
Sammy’s eyes never developed properly and he has been blind since birth. He works at a military manufacturing plant but is an entrepreneur at heart; he is currently building an e-commerce business on eBay and Amazon. He enjoys troubleshooting computer problems in his downtime. Langley makes Sammy feel proud and both human and dog smile when they are out working together. Sammy looks forward to new independence and no longer depending on a cane or a sighted guide.
Congratulations to Puppy Raiser Paul Van Nevel, Montgomery Region.
Rose and Oliver
Rose was matched with her fourth guide dog, yellow Lab Oliver. Together they return to her home and family in Indiana.
Rose has cone-rod dystrophy compounded by histoplasmosis. She attended mainstream schools and fought hard to be included in all activities despite her vision loss. Rose has three children and four grandchildren. She enjoys working outdoors and a butterfly garden takes center stage in her yard. Rose does standup comedy and will earn her Reiki Masters upon returning from the training program. Handsome Oliver has many fun things to look forward to!
Congratulations to Puppy Raisers Tammy & Darren Sikon, Cleveland West Region.
Becky lives in Connecticut with her husband of 22 years and a kitty named Sabrina. Tatum, a female yellow Labrador, is her first guide dog.
Becky lost her sight five years ago due to an infection. She had worked as a certified nursing assistant, caring for long-term and rehab patients. She now works with a recycling and solid waste commission and educates the public on recycling.
Tatum is already helping her in so many ways. Moderate hearing loss causes Becky to veer off path; Tatum helps her to stay straight and in better balance. When they aren’t working, Tatum loves to lay in Becky’s lap. She looks forward to walking like she did before her vision loss.
Congratulations to Puppy Raisers The Cohn Family, Richmond Region.
Jazmin traveled from California for her first guide dog, black Labrador Floral
Jazmin was born with optic nerve hypoplasia. She attended mainstream public schools and recently graduated from high school. She participates in many activities with the Braille Institute; recent adventures have her rock climbing, skiing, white water rafting, hiking and deep-sea fishing. She’s very happy she came to Guiding Eyes. The best experience so far was when Floral stopped her in the middle of the road because a car was coming in their direction. She is looking forward to street crossings back home knowing that the cars won’t be able to sneak up on her ever again.
Congratulations to Puppy Raisers Janet & Larry Amberger and Carolyn Bugbee, Maine Region.
Nicholas is a high school graduate from Pennsylvania. Male black Lab Archer is his first guide dog and together they’ll head off to Duquesne University to major in environmental science and law.
Nicholas was born with very limited vision and sees only shadows. He was the first blind student at his private high school and worked with staff to develop a program to support future students with disabilities. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science and the organization published many of his botany studies. Nicholas is certified as an EMT and will continue to work as one throughout college.
The first thing Nicholas noticed about working with Archer was that he could walk down the middle of the sidewalk with people passing on both sides. He could never do that with a cane; he would typically trail the wall on one side. “Archer gives me freedom. I can put my trust in him knowing I won’t hit something.”
Congratulations to Puppy Raisers Maria & Eli Aneiro and Abraham Guevara, New York City Region.
Carol is a returning student who lives in New York. Her third guide dog is a black Labrador named John.
In 1988, Carol’s life changed forever when an accident left her blind. She came to Guiding Eyes in 1990, and with the support of her husband and her new guide dog, she was able to begin life again. She worked for a publishing company and a real estate acquisition company and now 23 years later, John will be guiding her into her retirement years. Carol and her husband plan to spend winters in Arizona and summers in New York. She loves taking long walks and enjoys cooking for friends and family.
Congratulations to Puppy Raisers The Wood Family, Fingerlakes Region.
Lu Ann will return to Arizona with Lucky, a male yellow Labrador.
Lu Ann was born blind due to glaucoma. She has a degree in early childhood education and spent time teaching preschool and working as a nanny. Currently Lu Ann works as a material handler for the Department of Defense. With Lucky by her side, she hopes to start a new career in the customer service field. Lu Ann is married with three grown children and four grandsons. She enjoys romance novels, water skiing and sailing. She loves Lucky’s personality and describes him as beautiful. She admires his work ethic and his calm, peaceful demeanor.
Congratulations to Puppy Raiser Dot Dill, Colorado.
Lori and Gisela
Lori is a returning student from Missouri. A female black Labrador named Gisela is her third guide dog.
Lori’s visual impairment is caused by retinopathy of prematurity. She is a graduate of Georgia State University with a Masters in teaching visually impaired children. She returns home to her new job as a rehabilitation teacher. When not working she enjoys playing the piano, swimming, walking and listening to music. Her parents and 15-year-old daughter are very excited to meet Gisela, and Lori is looking forward to being able to get out more on her own and explore new and exciting places.
Congratulations to Puppy Raisers Sherry Lussier and Kerstin Lindner, Southwestern CT Region.
*Congratulations to Barbara Lakota, New York City Region, puppy raiser for Namath, placed through a home training.