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May 2014 Graduate Class

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

Meet our Residential Graduates
Rui & Godiva
Carla & James
Michael & Dot
Mussie & Werner
Maria & Akron
Marge & Kent
Paul & Leonard
Judy & Keats
Tara & Rollo

Home Training Graduates
Carolyn & Tinker

Many thanks to our instructors
Melinda Angstrom, Class Supervisor
Woody Curry, Class Instructor
Megan Crowley, Class Instructor
Andrea Martine, Special Needs Instructor
Graham Buck, International Instructor
Gerald Brenninkmeyer, ACTION Instructor
Chrissy Vetrano, Home Training
Saxon Eastman, Instructor Assistant

Rui and Godiva

Rui traveled from Portugal to be matched with his first guide dog – female yellow Labrador Godiva.

Rui’s vision loss is a result of glaucoma and retinal detachment. As a child he could see colors and shapes, but he no longer has any light perception. Rui is passionate about computers, particularly software development. He has his Bachelor of Science in computer engineering and is currently finishing his Master’s Degree in computer science. He works independently as a computer consultant.

During downtime, Rui plays guitar and piano and enjoys running, swimming and working out at the gym. He shares his favorite experience with Godiva, “Our trip to Manhattan left me amazed at how easily she maneuvered me around. In the words of Frank Sinatra, I felt that if I could make it there, I could make it anywhere!”

Congratulations to puppy raiser Linda Cross!

Carla and James

Portugese student Carla was matched with James, a yellow Labrador. Carla experienced retinal detachment at the age of 21 and lost her vision over the course of one week. She works both as a receptionist and as an intercom announcer in a supermarket. James offers companionship and freedom; she can go where she needs or wants to without depending on others. She shares, “The cane requires so much concentration. Working with James is liberating.” She is looking forward to all she’ll now experience with James by her side.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Kathi and Jeff Carey!

Michael and Dot

Michael will head home to Pennsylvania with yellow female Labrador Dot. His blindness is caused by a hereditary condition known as Familial Exudative Vitreoretinopathy (FEVR), which ultimately results in detaching retinas. He is the oldest of four children and the only one with this condition.

Michael attends community college and is majoring in business and computer science. He arranged to take all of his finals the early so he could join the May class. He is very athletic and travels the country to compete in both Goal Ball and Beep Ball. He shares, “It is common to have the cane stepped on and broken – particularly in crowded places like the train. Dot gives me so much more control and freedom.”

Michael appreciates all of the intensive training that made Dot the guide she is today. “From the dog’s birth, the process is systematic and organized; the end result is a guide dog I can depend on to keep me safe and a friend to share my adventures.”

Congratulations to puppy raiser Katherine Sheena!

Mussie and Werner

Mussie moved to California from the African country Eritrea when he was 12 years old. This month he was matched with a male yellow Labrador named Werner.

Mussie was born with both vision and hearing loss. He works as a technology trainer specializing in students who are Deaf-Blind. He shares, “Technology has an impact on people because technology itself is totally independent. It can empower people to become more accepted in society.” Mussie formed an advocacy group called Deaf-Blind Citizens in Action to help better support his peers.

He has many interests; he loves dancing, computer technology, reading, cooking, massage for animals and meeting people from many cultures. He is excited to introduce Werner to his girlfriend and to her golden retriever.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Linda DePuy!

Maria and Akron

Maria lives in Puerto Rico and was matched this month with her second guide dog – male black Lab Akron.

Maria lost her vision due to late onset infantile diabetes and glaucoma. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in management and enjoys working from home as a medical biller. Her guide dog changes everything – enabling her to enjoy an active work and social life. She enjoys movies and concerts and Ricky Martin is among her favorite performers.

Akron is the perfect match for Maria with his relaxed nature and joy for working. He is very affectionate and Maria shares, “I need him and he needs me.”

Congratulations to puppy raiser Jocelyn Pritchard!

Marge and Kent

Marge and black Lab Kent will return home to Minnesota. Gideon the cat awaits their arrival.

Marge’s vision loss is due to retinopathy of prematurity. She graduated from St. Cloud State University with a bachelor’s degree in community health and a Master’s in Health Education with an emphasis in women’s health. She worked as a college professor teaching health education and is now retired.

Marge looks forward to long walks and hiking in the woods again. She enjoys shopping and sporting events, and Kent will become the newest mascot of the Wisconsin Dragons. She also eagerly anticipates a summer visit with her daughter and granddaughter, and she can’t wait to introduce Kent to them.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Erin Seekamp!

Paul and Leonard

Ohio resident Paul was matched with his first guide dog – black Labrador Leonard.

Paul has retinitis pigmentosa with peripheral light perception. He graduated with an associate’s degree in marketing and worked in a factory until his vision deteriorated. He’s been married for 22 years and has two grown children. He and his wife spend summers camping on the lake, and Paul recently earned his black belt in karate. The ease of movement of traveling with Leonard is hugely appreciated by Paul, who compared walking with a cane to being in a pinball machine.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Jordan Pazol!

Judy and Keats

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Congratulations to puppy raiser Mark Knapik!

Tara and Rollo

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Congratulations to puppy raiser Namali Kadigawe!

Tinker graduated through our home training program. Congratulations to puppy raisers Diane Clark and Angela Muhs!