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May 2010 Graduating Class

Jennifer Anderson & Burke
David Char & Hershey
Larry Clark & Austin
Nelson Costa & Celine
Rachel Fetsko & Rhythm
Merrily LaBoy & Kachina
Abigal Lanier & Alexa
Jennifer Lowrey & Nutmeg
John T. Marshall & Poet
Hilario Sousa-Rodrigues & Princely

Home Training / Special Needs Graduates

Doreen Demas & Ola
Patricia Herbert & Ellie
Carolyn Patocka & Elsie
Robert Sweeney & Yarmouth
Christine Szostak & Armand
Kathleen Urshel & Sandra

And many thanks to our instructors…

Miranda Beckmann, Class Supervisor
Jessy DiNapoli, Class Instructor
Chrissy Vetrano, Class Instructor
Megan Crowley, Class Instructor
Graham Buck, ACTION Instructor
James Gardner, Home Training Instructor
Michael Goehring, Home Training Field Representative
Julie Angle, Special Needs Instructor
Gary Jakubos, Home Training Field Representative
Maranda Adamo, Instructor’s Assistant

J Anderson and BurkeJennifer Anderson and Burke
Freelance technical writer Jennifer Anderson, 39, came to Guiding Eyes from Texas for her first guide dog.  Jennifer was born with retinal colombas and cataracts.  She chose Guiding Eyes based on recommendations from several friends who are also graduates of the school.  Jennifer notes that having her new guide dog, Burke, has helped her to avoid obstacles and move more efficiently.  She is impressed with the way in which each individual student and dog is treated: “I love how positive it is at Guiding Eyes.  Everyone is so patient.”  Jennifer appreciates the efforts that are taken to ensure that the school is offering the best program possible.

Congratulations to Burke’s puppy raisers – Karen Bracken-Penley & Harold Penley & The Vance Family

David Char_and Hershey

David Char and Hershey
Ohio resident David Char, 46, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at the age of 20, and the disease has recently begun to advance quickly prompting him to get a guide dog.  This married father of two leads a very busy life as the proprietor and lead massage therapist in a thriving clinic.  David’s first experience with his guide dog, Hershey, has surpassed his expectations; “My dog is amazing.  We are a good team…without question, I trust a dog more than a cane…I came here to learn not only from instructors, but from fellow students.”

Congratulations to Hershey’s puppy raisers – Michael & Jennifer Harp

Larry Clark and Austin

Larry Clark and Austin
Fifty-nine-year-old Colorado resident Larry Clark has returned to Guiding Eyes for his second guide dog, Austin.  Larry is an experienced wood craftsman who specializes in constructing children’s toy boxes.  Before coming to the school, Larry was very reluctant to venture out of the house due to the retinal detachment and an unusual cluster of other vision problems that caused his blindness in 1999.  At the prodding of his daughter, Larry finally decided to trade in his cane for a guide dog, a decision he describes as the best one he has ever made.  Larry swears his guide dog selected his future wife and was thus the ring bearer at his wedding!  He comments, “Guiding Eyes is the best guide dog school in the world” and is an enthusiastic ambassador for the school.

Congratulations to Austin’s puppy raisers – Nora & Ginny Salzberg & The Obenshain Family

N Costa and Celine

Nelson Costa and Celine
Nelson Costa, 28, lives in Portugal and was blinded two years ago in a motorcycle accident.  His experience in receiving his first guide dog, Celine, has exceeded Nelson’s expectations: “The dog is my eyes and so much more than I expected her to be.”  Nelson is thrilled to be able to move much faster than with his cane.  Holding a degree in mechanical engineering, Nelson is an outgoing person who loves to socialize and still enjoys motorcycling as a passenger.

Congratulations to Celine’s puppy raisers – Mr. & Mrs. Zunino

Abigail Lanier and AlexaAbigail Lanier and Alexa
Abigail Lanier, 18, will become a student at Appalachian State University in just a few short months.  But before she begins that journey, she knew it was the right time to receive her first guide dog, Alexa to help her travel around her college campus and elsewhere.  Abby was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at the age of 4, and choosing to get her own guide dog seemed a logical decision as she knew other Guiding Eyes graduates whose lives had been positively impacted by becoming guide dog users.  As Abby embarks on the next chapter in her life, planning to study music recording and sound engineering in college, she knows that Alexa will be there to facilitate a smooth transition.

Congratulations to Alexa’s puppy raisers – Robert & Diane Clark

Jennifer Lowry and Nutmeg

Jennifer Lowry and Nutmeg
Usher’s syndrome diagnosed at the age of 4 caused Jennifer Lowry’s vision to decline.  At 41, she decided it was time to rely less on her husband and daughter and to become more independent.  After receiving her first dog, Nutmeg, Jennifer exclaims, “Everything is more fun with a dog!”  Calling herself the “Family CFO” because of her role in handling the family’s finances, Jennifer worked for many years as an insurance claims adjustor, but retired to become a full-time mother.  Her first experience at Guiding Eyes has been a positive one: “The staff is so patient and kind; from my first inquiring call, everything has been good.  The staff really wants everyone to succeed.”

Congratulations to Nutmeg’s puppy raisers – The Murtagh Family

John Marshall and PoetJohn “Tommy” Marshall and Poet
Returning for his fourth dog, Tommy recalls his first introduction to Guiding Eyes many years ago.  After a motorcycle accident at 29 left him blind, Tommy, now 62, attended a Guiding Eyes demonstration held in his home area.  He was instantly “sold” on the program.  Tommy is self-employed and runs a business building various types of fishing nets.  Before his accident, he was a commercial fisherman.  In his rare free time, Tommy enjoys traveling with his guide dog.  One of the unforeseen benefits he has experienced as a result of having a guide dog is the special companionship they share.  This is even more poignant as he gets older and his social life narrows.  He is confident that Poet will be just as wonderful as his other three guides have been: “I can’t say enough.  The people (at Guiding Eyes) are wonderful and conscientious.  Each of my dogs has been the ‘best’ dog.”

Congratulations to Poet’s puppy raisers – Lawrence & Ruth Ladd & Richard Hildreth

Hilario Sousa-ROdrigues and PrincelyHilario Sousa-Rodriguez and Princely
Hilario Sousa-Rodriguez, 39, traveled to Guiding Eyes from Portugal for his first guide dog, Princely.  Hilario has retinitis pigmentosa which progressed gradually until it culminated in complete vision loss two years ago.  A father of three who loves to read and dance, Hilario works as an archivist and is responsible for converting government documents from paper to digital format.  The decision to make the journey to Guiding Eyes was prompted by his desire for greater freedom, security and speed of travel.

Congratulations to Princely’s puppy raisers – Linda DePuy & The Matro Family

Rachel Fetsko and RhythmRachel and Rhythm
Rachel, a 25-year-old Ohio resident, suffered vision loss as a result of retinopathy of prematurity.  She currently works at the Cleveland Sight Center.  After graduating from high school, Rachel sought the companionship and ease of mobility a guide dog could offer and came to Guiding Eyes because she was seeking a better way to travel than she had been with her “clumsy” cane.  She was once reticent to venture out, and now finds that she is “much more likely to go out and do a greater variety of things.”  She and her new guide, Rhythm, have already become an efficient team.

Congratulations to Rhythm’s puppy raisers – Dick & Susan Horne & Family & the Swift Family

Merrily and KachinaMerrily and Kachina
Pennsylvania resident Merrily, 55, retains only very slight vision in her right eye due to retinopathy.  This wife and mother of two boys worked in the nursing field and ran a food services business for many years.  She is an active member of the National Federation for the Blind.  Merrily had a guide dog in the past, but she is a first time student at Guiding Eyes.  She relied on her family for assistance over the past fifteen years, but began to realize that with her children embarking upon their own lives, it was time for her to reclaim the independence a guide dog provides.  Merrily marvels at the individualized attention at Guiding Eyes, saying, “They worry about you and the dog and take time to explain everything.

Congratulations to Kachina’s puppy raisers – Barbara & Kendra Wright

Congratulations to the puppy raisers of the Home Training / Special Needs graduates!
Armand – Carilyn & Abbi Schaefer
Ellie – Kitty Hall
Elsie – The Ross Family
Ola – Carrie Barnett
Sandra – Tony Donovan & Patricia Grajales
Yarmouth – Lauren Roberts