June 2013 Graduate Class
Meet our Residential Graduates
Vicki & Dolly
Rocco & Glamour
Judy & Warsaw
Dannie & Pilgrim
Rosemary & Barkley
Kelcey & Maui
Eloise & Calla
Seth & Jamie
Vanessa & Farber
Donald & Midas
Home Training Graduates
Emilie & Andre
Ivor & Rhoda
Stacey & Gemini
Christopher & Pancho
Many thanks to our instructors:
Miranda Beckmann, Class Supervisor
Jessy DiNapoli, ACTION Instructor
Erik Wright, Class Instructor
Alyssa Tilley, Class Instructor
Susan Kroha, Special Needs Instructor
Julie Angle, Special Needs Home Training Instructor
Jim Gardner, Home Training
Gary Jakubos, Home Training Field Representative
Lisa Derleth, Home Training Field Representative
Alexandra Wallitsch, Instructor Assistant
Thank you to the sponsors of our June graduation!
Special recognition and thanks to our Annual Graduation Sponsor, Sally Stokhamer
“I’ve received dogs from Guiding Eyes since January 1978. The dogs and the support have been simply outstanding and this is my small way of thanking the school, the puppy raisers and all those others whose tireless work has made these special helpers a reality for us. I would encourage all Guiding Eyes graduates to also try to give back in whatever way possible to assist in this marvelous work.” – Donald Moore
Vicki returns to Guiding Eyes for her second guide dog – female yellow Labrador Dolly. Vicki lives in Texas with her husband and daughter.
Retinitis pigmentosa gradually affected Vicki’s sight into her thirties. She now has less than 2% of her vision; doctors give her 18-24 months before she is totally blind. At four years old, Vicki had measles and chicken pox at the same time, leaving her legally deaf. Vicki’s family appreciates the independence and safety that Dolly brings – they find much comfort in knowing that she will keep Vicki out of harms way.
After graduating from high school, Vicki worked as a patient care tech for eighteen years. She slowly transitioned into her current job as a Braille transcriptionist. During her spare time, Judy finds relaxation in needlepoint, walking and hiking.
Congratulations to puppy raisers Ellen and Bob Higgins
Rocco was matched with female black Labrador Glamour, his first guide dog.
Rocco was born four months premature and given a 3% chance of survival. He feels lucky to be alive and is highly ambitious; he regularly pushes himself to do his best at all tasks. Rocco will graduate from high school a year early. An accomplished jazz artist – pianist, singer, composer and arranger, he has been attending Berklee College of Music in Boston on scholarship in their summer programs. Rocco is deeply relieved to know he no longer needs a cane and is enjoying the greater level of independence Glamour is providing. For more on the adventures of Glamour and Rocco, visit www.musicbyrocco.com.
Congratulations to Glamour’s puppy raisers – The Meyers Family
Congratulations to puppy raiser MeKalea Chambliss
New Yorker Dannie received male yellow Labrador Pilgrim, his first guide dog. Dannie celebrated his 23rd birthday this month – Pilgrim has been the very best birthday present he could imagine.
Dannie was born with retinitis pigmentosa, which affected his sight at a very young age. He learned about guide dogs ten years ago during a trip to the library and has looked forward to having one ever since. Dannie works as the social director at a concert venue, collecting parking fees and keeping traffic moving. He has a passion for technology and loves Apple products for their accessibility. Dannie is a NASCAR fan and enjoys playing video games. He looks forward to this new adventure with Pilgrim and is already grateful for the mobility, independence and companionship.
Congratulations to puppy raisers Walt and Danny Overcash and Luan and Jim Harmeson
Congratulations to puppy raisers Cherise and Morgan Armfield
High school senior Kelcey traveled from Missouri for her first guide dog. She was matched with female black Labrador Maui.
Kelcey’s limited vision is the result of Leber’s congenital amaurosis, a rare inherited eye disease. She already feels more socially connected with Maui by her side. “Many people don’t know how to talk to blind people,” she shares. “The cane can be isolating. In addition, my family didn’t feel I was safe when I was out alone with my cane.” With Maui, things will be different.
Kelcey was pleasantly surprised when she met Maui; she didn’t expect the enthusiasm that Maui brings to her role as a guide dog. “She is helping me become more confident, while teaching me to be patient at the same time,” she shares. Kelcey is looking forward to senior year – particularly socializing with friends and taking long walks with Maui.
Congratulations to puppy raisers – The Bartz Family
Diane will return home to Oklahoma with female black Labrador Calla, her eleventh guide dog.
A rare genetic disease caused Diane to experience vision loss throughout her childhood. Recently, she began losing her hearing and balance. Her job at a 911 call center engages her with a wonderful group of people, however it has its challenges. She must navigate an area that would be an obstacle course for most blind people – with wet floors signs and chairs in the middle of her path.
Calla gives Diane the confidence she needs to travel safely and independently. Obstacles that are otherwise hazardous will go unnoticed as she is safely guided around them. Diane and Calla enjoy listening to music and audio books together. Diane’s husband, pet dog and cat are excited to welcome Calla into the family.
Congratulations to puppy raisers David and Nancy Shoemaker
Seth traveled from Ohio to be matched with female yellow Labrador Jamie, his first guide dog.
Seth has been legally blind since middle school. His vision loss is the result of optic nerve atrophy – visual impairment caused by damage to the optic nerve. Seth describes himself as a typical teenager who enjoys surfing the web, playing video games and spending time with his friends. This fall, he will begin his sophomore year at the University of Toledo, where he majors in finance and accounting.
Seth applied to Guiding Eyes because of the Special Needs program, which accommodates his vision and balance loss. His introduction to Jamie was accompanied with a sense of relief. “Navigating my college campus will be much easier now,” he shares. He looks forward to an active college life with Jamie.
Congratulations to puppy raiser Marci Frutkoff
Vanessa participated in the ACTION program – an accelerated training program with two weeks at Guiding Eyes and five days at home with an instructor. Vanessa was matched with male black Labrador Farber, her fourth Guiding Eyes dog.
Vanessa was born with optic nerve damage. At age three, she underwent two cataract surgeries, leaving her completely blind. Vanessa got her first guide dog during her junior year at Allegheny College and her mobility was hugely improved as a result.
Vanessa works for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, coordinating operations and staff development. She attended the University of Pittsburgh for grad school and has her Masters in higher education. In her spare time, Vanessa enjoys going to the theater and spending time with friends. Just recently, she has considered taking up golf.
Congratulations to puppy raisers – The Charlene Kirkwood Family
Donald participated in the ACTION program – an accelerated training program with two weeks at Guiding Eyes and five days at home with an instructor. Donald returned to Guiding Eyes for his seventh guide dog – male black Labrador Midas.
A graduate of Syracuse University, Donald worked for Social Security for thirty years and is now retired. He is deeply involved in supporting his community and is a member of his Condominium Association Board and president of the House Board. He belongs to several different organizations, including Shriners Hospital for Children. In his spare time, he and his dogs visit hospital patients – Midas will continue this tradition.
Blind since birth, Donald applied to Guiding Eyes following the advice of his brother and has since become a strong advocate for the school and the guide dog movement. “People relate better to a dog than they do to a cane,” he shares. “Each dog has its own personality, and they blend with you in varying ways.”
Donald thanks Guiding Eyes for the Blind for being an active supporter in his life.
Congratulations to puppy raisers Theresa Camloh and Bonnie Beck
Congratulations to the puppy raisers of this month’s home-trained dogs! Andre was raised by The Dondero Family, Pancho was raised by Howard Taylor, Rhoda was raised by The Seemann Family and Elizabeth DeShaw and Gemini was raised by Barbara McCabe. Great job all!