January 2014 Graduate Class

 In Graduations, News & Events

Group photo - class of January 2014

A special recognition and thanks to our Annual Graduation Sponsor, Sally Stokhamer


“We are sponsoring the January 2014 graduation to celebrate all guide dog teams and in honor and recognition of the human dog partnerships that have developed and blossomed because of the Guiding Eyes family. We want to thank Guiding Eyes for the gift on four paws.”
– Graduate Annie Chiapetta and Verona

Meet our Residential Graduates
Cynthia and Margo
Judy and Reno
Michael and Tom
Howard and Kimberly
Patsy and Ginseng
Dave and Zane
Cecil and Godiva
Ryan and Portland

Many thanks to our instructors
Dell Rodman, Class Supervisor
Graham Buck, ACTION Instructor
Erik Wright, Class Instructor
Alyssa Tilley, Class Instructor
Erica Lichtman, Instructor Assistant

Clifton(graduate not profiled)

Congratulations to Clifton’s puppy raisers – Gail, Hu and Carl Sangree and The Woodward Family.  









Cynthia and MargoCynthia and Margo

Cynthia and yellow Labrador Margo will head home to Texas.

Cynthia is married to her high school sweetheart and has one daughter and a grandson. At the age of 16, a large brain tumor destroyed her optic nerve. She has a Master’s degree in counseling and is a licensed professional counselor. She’s also on the Board of Directors for the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. When Cynthia’s not working, she stays busy by spending time with her family, reading and learning about new technologies, such as her own personal favorite – the Victor Reader Stream. Her guide dogs have always given her confidence and independence and she looks forward to safe travel with Margo by her side.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Peggy Farrar.


Judy and RenoJudy and Reno

(graduate not profiled)

Congratulations to puppy raiser Paula Cappellina and to the family and friends of late puppy raiser and staff member, Lee Nordin.






Michael and TomMichael and Tom

Mike returns to Guiding Eyes for his second guide dog, male yellow Lab Tom.

Mike lost his sight as the result of retinitis pigmentosa at the age of 14. He is a graduate of Dominican College and has worked in Manhattan for the past three years. His job involves testing information software to make sure it meets guidelines for disabled individuals. Mike enjoys watching sports and traveling. As a native New Yorker, he is an avid Yankees fan. Since having a guide dog, Mike has been on three cruises and on a trip to Hawaii; he feels much more comfortable to travel further afield.

Mike had been using his cane in the months between retiring his first guide and receiving Tom. He describes his experience as “going from a race car to a bicycle.” With Tom, Mike will finally be in the fast lane again.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Eileen and Tom Matro.


Howard and KimberlyHoward and Kimberly

Howard lives with his wife and two of his four children in Delaware. He was matched with his first guide dog – female black Labrador Kimberly.

Howard was born with retinitis pigmentosa and developed glaucoma later in life. He lost most of his vision in a motorcycle accident caused by a drunk driver. He is passionate about cars and motorcycles and enjoyed working on the restoration of a1966 Ford Mustang, a project his wife and children helped with. He worked for the Division of Blind Services before moving to Delaware. Kimberly will provide Howard with the freedom to walk his children to the bus stop and re-enter the workforce.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Gayle Fowler.
Patsy and GinsengPatsy and Ginseng

Patsy was matched with Ginseng, a female black Labrador and her first guide dog.

Patsy’s vision loss is due to retinitis pigmentosa. She grew up in a large family with nine siblings, has three children of her own and now two granddaughters. Two years ago, Patsy began orientation and mobility training so she could apply for a guide dog. With Ginseng, she will be returning to college for a master’s degree in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy. Patsy enjoys reading, learning Braille, hiking and tandem bike riding. Hot summer days find her browsing the shops in the mall and spending time with her granddaughters. Her favorite technology is JAWS. She hopes her positive experience with her guide dog will encourage others who are visually impaired. “Ginseng is opening doors I thought were closed forever.”

Congratulations to Ginseng’s puppy raisers – Tina and Tori Clark and The Kennedy family.


Dave and ZaneDave and Zane

Dave returns for his second guide dog Zane, a male yellow Labrador. Together they will return to Indiana where Dave and his wife are enjoying a life of retirement.

Dave got his first guide dog in 2005 after he lost his vision as a result of several small strokes. He joined the army in 1966 and served in Vietnam. He remained in the army for the duration of his career, visiting 26 countries in 26 years and raising his children in the service. Dave ultimately retired as a Sergeant Major. Following in his footsteps, Dave’s daughter and son-in-law will retire from the army this April.

Dave recalls one occasion when his first guide dog literally saved his life. The dog stopped him and refused to go forward while walking in a parking lot. A driver was backing out and didn’t see them. Fortunately, Dave’s guide dog stopped him in his tracks.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Maureen Dinner.



Cecil and GodivaCecil and Godiva

Native New Yorker Cecil was matched with yellow Labrador Godiva, his third guide dog.

Cecil vividly recalls losing his vision to diabetes in October of 1995. A severe headache sent him to the hospital and he woke up the next morning blind. His life began again when he received his first talking watch from the Jewish Guild for the Blind. The ability to discern day from night opened Cecil’s mind to the many opportunities still available to him. He attended the New York School of Technology and earned a degree in alcohol and drug counseling. He volunteers for the Housing Works program and enjoys listening to music, watching sports, playing the guitar and going fishing. Godiva is his first female guide dog and brings out a softer side of him; she loves giving kisses! Upon their return home, Godiva will befriend Cecil’s retired guide, Orlando.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Linda and Paul Cross.


Ryan and PortlandRyan and Portland

Ryan traveled from Washington State to be matched with yellow Lab Portland, his second guide dog.

Ryan’s vision loss was caused by nerve damage and a severed optic nerve. He works for Boeing as a machine operator and utilizes technology to achieve incredible accuracy in his work. Ryan shares that, “Using a cane works, but a dog opens up so much more social interaction.” He enjoys everything outdoors, especially hiking, walking the beachfront and going to concerts. In Portland he has found yet another devoted and loyal guide dog and a caring companion.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Louann Park.