June 2014 Graduate Class

 In Graduations, News & Events

June 2014 Class

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

  • Betsy and Fred Rhines: “June is a big month for graduations! We are delighted to congratulate the men and women who have completed their training at the Guiding Eyes campus. We wish them well as they celebrate with their families and then leave to begin new lives with their devoted canine partners. We hope each of them can say with joy and confidence, ‘Today is the first day of the rest of my life.’”
  • Jim Pluta: “Wishing graduates and guide dogs all the happiness and independence that their new partnerships will provide.”
  • Lynne and Jonathan Lamphier: “Our daughter Lauren lost her vision in less than a year. She felt paralyzed but Guiding Eyes has helped her to regain her independence, reawakened her enthusiasm for life and aspirations for the future. Words can not adequately express our sincerest gratitude.”
  • Sally Stokhamer, annual graduation sponsor.
  • We gratefully acknowledge the Fain Family’s support of our video streaming capabilities. Click here to view the June graduation online.

Meet our Residential Graduates
Danielle and Willa
T and Charles
Sarah and Kisco
Courtney and MacBeth
Lin and Thermo
Colleen and Mackie
Lauren and Kaylin
Elaine and Kyle
Julie and Bill
Hunter and Atlas
Gina Marie and Franco

Many thanks to our instructors
Ben Cawley, Class Supervisor
Michelle Tang, Class Instructor
Lori Busse, Class Instructor
Julie Angle, Special Needs Instructor
Jolene Hollister, ACTION Instructor
Chrissy Vetrano, Home Training
Dan Weesner, Instructor Assistant

Danielle and WillaDanielle and Willa

Danielle traveled from Kentucky for her first guide dog; she was matched with a female yellow Labrador named Willa.

Danielle was born with a rare eye condition known as Peters Anomaly; it causes both vision and hearing loss. This fall she’ll begin her sophomore year in college, majoring in elementary and special education with an emphasis in moderate to severe disabilities. Her goal is to become a teacher for people who are blind and visually impaired. Danielle loves a challenge and enjoys swimming, reading and rock climbing.

Willa is a joy to work with and the one-on-one instruction made learning easier. Willa loves to play and her squeaky toy is her favorite. Their personalities compliment each other and Danielle is looking forward to more independence with Willa by her side.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Sheryl Ehlers!

T and Charles
T and Charles

T returns to Guiding Eyes for her third guide dog – yellow Lab Charles. At home in California, her family can’t wait to meet him.

T’s vision loss is a result of retinopathy of prematurity. She is studying child development at Sacramento State and plans to teach pre-school after graduation. Her hobbies include reading and completing jig saw puzzles. Each completed puzzle is stabilized and given as a gift to friends and family. T is looking forward to returning home to complete her studies and move on to the next phase of her life.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Sebastien Fossel & Ryan Tooley!

Sarah and KiscoSarah and Kisco

Sarah lives with her family in California and studies animal science at the local community college. Male black Lab Kisco is her first guide dog.

Sarah has retinitis pigmentosa. Her free time is spent volunteering at a horse farm where she exercises and trains the horses. She rides both Western and English and looks forward to competing in horse shows. Sarah draws a similarity between training a horse and working with a guide dog. “A horse is like a giant dog – the reins are the leash. Learning to work with Kisco is an easy transition.”

Sarah is looking forward to attending Fresno State where she will live on campus with Kisco, her constant companion.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Katie Maley!

Courtney and MacBethCourtney and MacBeth

Courtney was matched with MacBeth, a black Labrador and her second guide dog. Her first guide is retired with her mom and MacBeth will have the opportunity to visit when they return home to Illinois.

Courtney was born blind and needs a guide dog to work on her right side; MacBeth was specially trained for the job. Courtney lives in her own apartment and works in a local restaurant. She loves to bake, take walks, spend time with friends and to shop.

She refers to MacBeth as “my little Porsche, excited to work and affectionate at play.” MacBeth is “her eyes” and she knows he will stop her if a car comes in front of them. “My guide dogs save my life every day.”

Congratulations to puppy raiser Janet Newcity!

Lin and ThermoLin and Thermo

Lin and male yellow Lab Thermo will return to South Carolina. Lin was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when he was ten and became legally blind when he was 18. He has worked with guide dogs for over 30 years.

Lin graduated from the University of South Carolina with a business degree and is now retired from a career with the Commission for the Blind. He is a NASCAR fan and his dream car is a 1971 hemi ‘cudda. He enjoys traveling, dinner with friends, concerts and movies. He is very active on social media and sees Facebook and Twitter as wonderful ways to connect with people and share experiences. He retired his last guide six months ago. Thermo reignites the passion a guide dog brings and he is looking forward to the companionship and freedom.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Emily Kethler!

Colleen and MackieColleen and Mackie

Colleen was matched with male yellow Lab Mackie; they’ll head home to Minnesota where her husband awaits them.

Colleen’s vision loss is due to Laurence-Moon Syndrome; she was sighted until she was in her early thirties. Colleen worked as a receptionist and currently runs her own dog boarding business. She is active with the American Council for the Blind and volunteers at St. Joseph’s Home for Children. She also visits schools and hosts a weekly book club. Summers are spent traveling and camping. Mackie will join Colleen, her husband and her retired guide as they pitch their tent on the campgrounds this July.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Ting Hu and Luke Yen!

Lauren and KaylinLauren and Kaylin

Lauren was matched with her first guide dog, a female black Labrador named Kaylin. She returns home to New Hampshire where she’ll soon begin her senior year studying sociology at Plymouth State University.

Lauren noticed her vision deteriorating but kept thinking it would go away; she was ultimately diagnosed with Stargardt disease. She loves everything outdoors and is an avid runner, hiker, mountain climber, camper and kayaker who would rather play sports than go to the mall. Her favorite quote is, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” She shares, “This experience has been the biggest adventure in my life. I’ll have my new best friend by my side. I am thankful and blessed to have Kaylin.”

Congratulations to puppy raiser Barbara McCabe!

Elaine and KyleElaine and Kyle

Elaine and black Lab Kyle will head home to Pennsylvania. She was born with limited vision due to optic nerve hypoplasia. She attended Kutztown University and has a bachelor’s degree in professional writing, a minor in women’s studies and a specialization in public relations.

Elaine continued on for her Masters degree in student affairs and higher education administration. She now works in disability advocacy and disability support for college students. She loves writing, public speaking, playing piano and composing original music. She is very active in Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network, an advocacy group run by and for youth with disabilities. Kyle is Elaine’s “linebacker.” She shares, “He’s always looking for the opening and checking to make sure I’m okay. People are no longer avoiding me. Kyle allows me to be normal.”

Congratulations to puppy raiser Alexandra de Foucault!

Julie and BillJulie and Bill

Missouri resident Julie received yellow Lab Bill through the ACTION program. Julie’s vision loss is due to glaucoma. She retired her first guide dog in December and is excited to have Bill. She shares, “A guide dog is a different tool than a cane. The bond between dog and handler is awesome; there’s something magical about it.”

Julie earned double bachelors’ degrees in vocal performance and German and continues at the University of Missouri for her master’s degree in vocal performance. Although studying takes much of her time, she has opportunities to travel with the National Federation for the Blind. She is excited to continue her education with Bill who is silly and fun – yet the consummate professional when he is working.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Emily Gray!

Hunter and AtlasHunter and Atlas

Hunter graduated from high school in May and traveled from Pennsylvania to receive his first guide dog, male black Labrador Atlas. Together they will attend community college where he will earn his associate’s degree in sociology before transferring to a state school for his bachelor’s.

Hunter has dual sensory loss caused by Usher’s Syndrome Type 2 and retinitis pigmentosa. He is the youngest of three and lives at home. He finds time to be outdoors, read and be with friends and family. Having a guide dog enables Hunter to travel to school, use public transportation and take night classes. Atlas anticipates what is 10 to 20 feet ahead and is always ready. Hunter looks forward to introducing his new guide dog to his pet Labrador and his cat.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Megan Lynn Banfield!

Gina Marie and FrancoGina Marie and Franco

Gina Marie is an ACTION student and a male yellow Labrador named Franco is her second guide dog.

Gina Marie has retinopathy of prematurity and uses adaptive technologies, large print and magnifiers. She graduated last year from Kutztown University with a degree in professional studies with a concentration in vision education. “Technology has changed everything for the blind and visually impaired” she shares.

This year has been very exciting; Gina Marie completed a training program in May, will graduate in June with Franco and start her new job in a new town this summer. She relaxes outdoors, enjoys camping by the river and baking cookies, cakes and brownies. She is looking forward to introducing Franco to her brothers and sister.

Congratulations to puppy raisers The Meler Family!

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