February 2014 Graduate Class

 In Graduations, News & Events

Group photo - class of January 2014

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

  • Judith Collard, sponsor of the training of Guiding Eyes Marigold. “I wish them all the luck in the world and a long and happy relationship together.”
  • Sally Stokhamer, annual graduation sponsor
  • Breken Elwood-Etherington, February graduation sponsor. “In thanks of service dogs everywhere and those who care for them.”
  • Matt and Maurica Cicci, February graduation sponsors. “We feel very privileged to be part of this graduation ceremony. We wish all the human and canine graduates much success and many happy days in their future lives together.
  • We gratefully acknowledge the Fain Family’s support of our video streaming capabilities. Click here to view the February graduation online.


Meet our Residential Graduates
Terry and Kirby
Tim and Carson
Judy and Mandrake
Alex and Brady
Vicky and Aris
David and Astra
Pam and Marigold
Jessie and Linda

Home Training Graduates
Ron and Raider
Linette and Adeline

Many thanks to our instructors
Ben Cawley, Class Supervisor
Stephanie Koret, Class Instructor
Caryn Fellows, Class Instructor
Jim Gardner and Chrissy Vetrano, Home Training Instructors
Amy Scordato, Instructor Assistant

Terry and KirbyTerry and Kirby

Terry was matched with his first guide dog, a male yellow Labrador named Kirby. Colorado winters will now be much easier to navigate.

Terry lost his vision due to retinopathy of prematurity. He majored in business at Oregon State and started his career as an industrial real estate broker. He transitioned into residential real estate and now works alongside his wife. He enjoys reading and studying for a mediation practice focusing on commercial real estate disputes. Terry is very happy with his decision to come to Guiding Eyes; he greatly appreciates the amount of work that went into what preparing Kirby.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Elliott Lamkin!
Tim and CarsonTim and Carson

Tim returns from Florida for Carson, a yellow Labrador and his fourth Guiding Eyes dog. An accident at the age of 15 left Tim totally blind. Growing up, Tim recalls his dad always being there for him, making it easier to finish high school after the accident. Tim worked in the AAA call center in Maine before tiring of winters and moving to Florida. He is a Microsoft Certified Professional and enjoys different types of technology; he is developing a curriculum to train others with visual impairments to use iPhones and Mac computers. It has been two years since he retired his last guide and Tim is looking forward to a new future with Carson.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Ron and Jean Cook!
Judy and MandrakeJudy and Mandrake

North Carolina resident Judy was matched with her first guide dog, a male yellow Labrador named Mandrake.

Judy has degenerative vision loss due to retinitis pigmentosa. She earned her undergraduate degree from Purdue and her Master’s in library science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She works in a low vision center educating clients on available resources and helping them deal with the emotional aspects of vision loss. Judy enjoys reading and going to the movies in her downtime. She is looking forward to introducing Mandrake to her two daughters and grandchild and once again enjoying fast paced walks.

Congratulations to Mandrake’s puppy raisers – Linda Siegel and Danniela Ciatto!


Alex and BradyAlex and Brady

Alex and yellow Lab Brady will return to Virginia, where Alex looks forward to introducing Brady to his wife.

Alex has retinitis pigmentosa with limited central vision. He works for the State of Virginia Department for the Blind and teaches daily living skills to visually impaired adults. His hobbies include Audiobooks, movies, music, computers and getting together with friends. Alex retired his guide dog in December and felt emptiness. “Without a guide dog something was missing” he shares. “Now the missing piece is back.”

Congratulations to Brady’s puppy raisers – the Moultrie family!



Vicky and ArisVicky and Aris

Vicky grew up in Venezuela and graduated from college with a degree in interior design. She moved to Florida to be closer to her children and has since become an American citizen. At her doctor’s suggestion and her son’s encouragement, she came to Guiding Eyes and has been matched with a male yellow Labrador named Aris. Her husband’s business is still in Venezuela and he commutes back and forth every few weeks. He is looking forward to the confidence and security Aris brings to Vicky – particularly for when he’s away. With Aris, Vicki is independent to go to the market or the mall without needing a sighted guide.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Cathy Meredith!



David and AstraDavid and Astra

David grew up in Belize and now calls New York home. He is enjoying a brand new experience with his first guide dog, female black Labrador Astra. David’s vision loss was initially from glaucoma; a skateboard accident at the age of 15 caused him to become totally blind. He enjoys singing, playing guitar and spending time with his five-year-old son. David found his experience at Guiding Eyes to be life-changing, and he’s in awe of the loyalty and teamwork he’s already discovered through his relationship with Astra.

Congratulations to Astra’s puppy raisers – Kerry Lemerise, Doug Hurley and Ruth Ladd!



Pam and MarigoldPam and Marigold

Pam was matched with a female Labrador named Marigold; together they’ll return home to Alabama.

Pam has retinitis pigmentosa. Her parents and grandparents were very supportive, and she follows in their footsteps by devoting much love and energy to supporting her two children and five grandchildren. She enjoys cooking and admits she doesn’t know how to prepare meals for two people; she regularly whips up enough food for an army. Pam loves to travel and looks forward to many motor home adventures with Marigold.

Congratulations to Marigold’s puppy raisers – the Bradford family!



Jessie and LindaJessie and Linda

Jessie lives in Delaware with her husband and their eight year old daughter. She was born without sight in one eye and lost the remainder of her vision due to neuromyopathy. Following her vision loss, Jessie lost her job as an armed security officer and juvenile correction officer. With Linda by her side, Jessie looks forward to paving the road to a new future. She studied criminal justice at Delaware Tech and will soon return to school to become a juvenile therapist. In her downtime, Jessie enjoys listening to music and practicing martial arts; she’s a black belt and a weapons master. Jessie quoted Amazing Grace at her graduation ceremony, saying “I was once blind, but now I can see.”

Congratulations to puppy raiser Mary Bligh!



Ron and RaiderRon and Raider
Ron was matched with black Lab Raider. Though born in California and raised in Kansas, Ron now lives in NY with wife and Guiding Eyes grad Becky Barnes. Ron built and designed custom furniture and cabinets for 38 years. Nowadays he spends much of his time creating intricate wood carvings, many of which are modeled after Guiding Eyes dogs. Ron serves on the Guiding Eyes Graduate Council. With Raider by his side, Ron will continue to travel locally and afar – often in support of Guiding Eyes.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Camille and Andrew Good!

Congratulations to the puppy raisers of home-trained Guiding Eyes dog, Adeline – Julia Lancian, Mark Zizzamia and Barbara Wright!