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August 2015 Graduating Class

August Class of 2014
August Graduating Class

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

Residential Graduates:
Elwood & Steve
Joan & Hampton
Megan & Nathan
Richard & Klinger
Timothy & Lang

ACTION Training Program:
Heather & G-lee
Jule Ann & Bob

Home Training Program
Mark & Josiah
Gilbert & Lira

Many thanks to our instructors:
Miranda Beckmann, Class Supervisor
Caryn Fellows, Class Instructor
Nikki Wentz, Class Instructor
Jolene Hollister, Class Instructor
Benjamin Cawley, ACTION Instructor 
Jessy DiNapoli, Home Training Instructor
Julie Angle, Special Needs Home Training Instructor
Katherine Russell, Instructor Assistant

Congratulations to the raisers of dog’s placed through the August 2015 Home Training Programs:

Josiah, raised by Kathleen Hayward, Linda Siegel and Elizabeth Closmore – Congratulations!
Lira, raised by Trey Clough & the Clough Family – Congratulations!

Timothy and LangTim and Lang

Tim will be starting his junior year at Ithaca College majoring in communication studies. He has been matched with a male black Labrador named Lang, his first guide dog.

Tim lost his vision to cancer five years ago. He spent one year in isolation and over a hundred days in bed. Tim needed to learn how to walk again and to acquire orientation and mobility skills. Tim is driven to succeed; he is active in multiple clubs on campus, speaks about his vision loss, and loves debating. He will soon compete in the Pan American Debate Tournament with the Ithaca debate team. Tim is training to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in January 2017 all the while managing a full academic schedule and social life while maintaining a 3.97 G.P.A. Tim shares, “Lang is helping me stand straighter and I can feel the muscles in my back working and getting stronger. I had a tendency to lean forward when I walked.” Tim is looking forward to a story telling course this fall and the new adventures he will share with Lang.

Congratulations to Lang’s puppy raisers – Christie Murphy & Family!

Elwood and Steve


Elwood and Steve

Elwood returns for his third guide dog and second dog from Guiding Eyes, a black Labrador named Steve.

Macular irregularities cause Elwood’s vision loss. He worked as assistant foreman for an international fishery and transitioned to charity fundraising when his vision deteriorated. Elwood is looking forward to returning to Canada with Steve by his side.

Congratulations to Steve’s puppy raiser – The Mezacapa O’Brien Family!


Megan and Nathan


Megan and Nathan

Megan has been matched with black Labrador Nathan, her first guide dog. They will return home to Georgia where her sister and pet dog eagerly await.

Megan was born with glaucoma. She was fortunate to have had great teachers and a lot of support in school. Megan majored in Spanish and minored in music at Piedmont College and earned a master’s degree in Spanish from Winthrop University. She works for Carmax Auto Finance in collections as an auto finance account manager specialist. Megan knew it was time to apply for a guide dog when she lost the vision in her left eye. She felt the cane was limiting and avoided traveling at night. She is looking forward to the opportunity to be much more independent with Nathan and to take advantage of the good public transportation in her neighborhood. Together, they will explore new opportunities.

Congratulations to Nathan’s puppy raiser – The Neel Family!

Richard and KlingerRichard and Klinger

Richard, his wife and three daughters live in California. He has been matched with his first guide dog, a German shepherd named Klinger.

Richard attended Oregon State University on a Navy ROTC scholarship. He served as a second lieutenant in the Marines from June 1989 to April 1990 when he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, ending his military career with an honorable discharge. Richard went to graduate school at California State in Sacramento majoring in psychology. He is a retired school psychologist. Richard dedicates his free time to endurance sports competitions, marathons, triathlons and volunteering to help others with vision loss engage in endurance sports. He is the founder of the United in Stride website that matches individuals who are blind and visually impaired with sighted guides. Richard is the second visually impaired athlete to complete an Ironman with a guide in less than 12 hours. He shares, “a father pointed to me and Klinger and said to his daughter, ‘look how well they walk together.’ It brought tears to my eyes.”

Congratulations to Klinger’s puppy raiser – The Kelly Family!

Jule Ann and BobJule Ann and Bob

Jule Ann participated in the accelerated ACTION program; she spent two weeks at the training center in Yorktown and completed the final week with a trainer at home in Pennsylvania.
Jule Ann’s vision loss is caused by cone rod dystrophy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology and business administration from Arcadia University. She raised her two sons and daughter before returning to graduate school at Salus University for her masters in low vision therapy. Jule Ann is an assistive technology specialist in a program at Temple University. She is an avid reader and is never without a book. The first day working with Bob brought back memories of the first time she picked up a harness. She shares, “it feels like he is gliding. I love his sedate personality.”

Congratulations to Bob’s puppy raisers – Becky & Kirk Junco!

Joan and Hampton


Joan and Hampton

Joan lives in Pennsylvania and has been partnered with her seventh guide dog, Hampton, a male yellow Labrador.

Retinitis pigmentosa caused Joan’s vison loss. Her vision decreased in her mid-thirties to the point that she needed help walking on the sidewalk. Joan’s guide dogs give her independence without limitation. She shares, “It is a joy to get out and walk for a couple of miles.” Joan is the first person who is blind to climb Mt. McKinley with her twin boys. She is a member of Ski for Light, has climbed mountains in Colorado, toured the small villages in England on a tandem bicycle and carried the Olympic Torch in 2012. Joan met her husband in high school and has four children. Hampton is very affectionate, and Joan is looking forward to many years together.

Congratulations to Hampton’s puppy raiser – Mallory Busso!

Heather and G-lee


Heather and G-lee


(Not profiled)


Congratulations to G-lee’s puppy raisers – Molly Perrin and Stu & Cindy Chait!