Thank you to the sponsors of this month’s graduating class:
Carol Parish & Marty Zeldin
The Carey Family
We also thank the Fain Family for their support of our online streaming capabilities. Watch this month’s graduation live by clicking here.
Amy & Harmon
Angelo & Olga
Ann & Mint
Dannie & Persia
Detrick & Coal
Kathleen & Blossom
Kathryn & Molly
Kim & Hayes
Moe & Carbon
Myrna & Adriana
Home Training Program:
George & Pamela
Kelly & Jeff
Mary & Regina
Special Needs Program:
Diane & Randall
Many thanks to our class instructors:
Jessy DiNapoli, Class Supervisor
Kathryn Poallo, Class Instructor
Kate Peterson, Class Instructor
Susan Kroha, Special Needs Instructor
Morgan Vail, Instructor Assistant
Kathy and Molly
Kathy is a returning student from Alabama. She has been matched with a female yellow Labrador named Molly, her third guide dog.
Optic nerve drusin, a family history of retinitis pigmentosa and the beginning stages of macular degeneration have caused Kathy’s vision loss. She is married to a flight examiner for the US Army and they have four children. She runs a homeschool, and is proud of her students, some of whom earn full and partial scholarships towards their education. Kathy is an accomplished quilter, loves to travel, and has a passion for walking. Her guide dogs give her the opportunity to maintain her independence. Molly gives her a sense of security. There is a bond of trust and love that comes with a guide dog. Kathy is looking forward to introducing Molly to her retired guide and continuing to go to the local schools to introduce the children to guide dogs and the work they do.
Angelo and Olga
Arkansas resident Angelo has just received Olga, a female yellow Labrador. She is his third guide dog.
Angelo began having seizures at six months old which affected his vision until he grew out of them at 18. A water skiing accident shortly after destroyed the nerve connections to his eyes leaving him with vision loss. Angelo holds an associate’s degree in liberal arts and attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for his bachelor’s degree; a double major in social work and psychology. Angelo works as a rehab instructor at a hospital for those with mental illness. He decided it was time to get a guide dog when he was hit by a car crossing the street because the car didn’t see his cane.
Dannie and Persia
Dannie and his second guide dog, a female black Labrador named Persia, will return home to New York.
Dannie was born with retinitis pigmentosa which affected his sight at a very young age. He learned about guide dogs during a trip to the library in his early teens, and has looked forward to having one ever since. Dannie has a passion for technology and loves Apple products for their accessibility. He is a NASCAR fan and enjoys playing video games. Dannie is grateful for the mobility and the companionship he shares with Persia. “She is much like my first guide” he shares. “I am looking forward to returning home and experiencing all the new doors opening into the future.”
Kathy and Blossom
Kathy is from New York and returns to Guiding Eyes for her seventh guide dog, Blossom, a female yellow Labrador.
Kathy’s vision loss was caused by ornithine aminotransferase (OAT). Loss of OAT function is a disease that progressively leads to blindness. Kathy holds 3 degrees; a Bachelor of Arts and masters in French and a bachelor of science in Computer Information Systems. She is now retired from the customer service department of the US Treasury. Kathy participates in the Paws for Love pet therapy program through the local SPCA going to nursing homes, colleges and local high schools. She is looking forward to taking walks and visiting her retired guide who is with her niece and two daughters.
Ann and Mint
Ann and her first guide dog, a female yellow Labrador named Mint, will return home to Michigan.
Ann’s vision loss is caused by retinitis pigmentosa. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Oakland University and enjoys writing on her blog, blindaholicsinc.blogspot.com, where she shares her interests. She and her brother are partners in the Tappy Menu app, a free app that allows people who are blind and visually impaired to read restaurant menus on their iPhones. Ann loves to travel; New York is her favorite place. Ann’s dream is to travel to Europe and she is confident Mint will enable her to fulfill that dream.
Kim and Hayes
Kim lives in North Carolina and has come to Guiding Eyes for her first guide dog, a female yellow Labrador named Hayes.
Diabetes and micro aneurysms caused Kim to lose her vision. She went to rehabilitation to learn daily living skills and later earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Central Florida. Kim worked in a public relations firm before moving to North Carolina. She has a son and a daughter and a sister with whom she is very close. Now that her children are grown, Kim decided it was time to get a guide dog. Her husband and their pet German shepherd are looking forward to meeting Hayes.
Detrick and Coal
Detrick traveled from Colorado for her fifth guide dog, a male black Labrador named Coal.
Detrick was born with congenital blindness. She is retired from the airport where she worked in customer service. She plans to go back to work now that she has Coal to help her. Detrick describes herself as a poor cane traveler because “the cane gives you so much information…Cole is different; he makes all the decisions and I just follow him.” Detrick likes the new training techniques, particularly using treats to reinforce what Coal has done. She’s looking forward to returning home where her top priority is her guide dog; Detrick has a daily grooming routine and massage regimen that is stress-relieving for both of them.
Amy & Harmon
Amy and her husband live in Texas. She has been matched with a male yellow Labrador named Harmon, her first guide dog.
Amy has Stargardt’s syndrome which caused her to begin to lose her vision at the age of six. She attended the Art Institute of Houston to study fashion marketing, and went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas, majoring in education with a minor in special education. Amy has taught high school math and worked at an independent living center. With Harmon, she does not have to feel for obstacles the way she did with a cane. Amy is looking forward to people moving out of the way and Harmon guiding her around obstacles. She sees her confidence and self-esteem rising and is proud to have Harmon as a helper. She shares, “It is very hard training, but it is one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
Myrna and Adriana
Myrna is from New York. Adrianna, a female Labrador, is her tenth guide dog.
Myrna’s lack of central vision was discovered when she was three months old. The flashlight was one of her favorite toys because she could easily identify its light. Myrna earned her master’s degree from New York University and taught music in the public school system for eleven years. Today, she is an independent teacher of assistive technology. Myrna is also an advocate for those who are visually impaired. She is looking forward to getting out more and taking public transportation, and just being able to go for relaxing walks with Adrianna.
Moe and Carbon
Moe and his first guide dog, a male black Labrador named Carbon, will return home to Virginia.
Stargardt’s syndrome caused Moe’s vision loss. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University in social sciences and an MBA from the University of Maryland. He is contracted with the Smithsonian and works on a project-to-project basis. Moe is an avid swimmer, loves technology, podcasts and reading the tech sites. He is a big fan of Apple for helping to bring so much assistive technology to those who are blind and visually impaired. Carbon makes travel and getting around much faster. Moe will now be able to expand his consulting practice to include technology training for Macs and PCs.
Diane and Randall
Diane is from New York and has come to Guiding Eyes for her first guide dog. She is matched with a male black Labrador named Randall.
Diane was born with congenital rubella syndrome. She is legally blind with no vision in one eye, no hearing in one ear and cerebral palsy. She attended high school in Tampa and went on to a vocational training school studying floral design and agriculture. Diane worked for 10 years as a hospital clerk, and is currently working with a job coach seeking new employment. Diane describes Randall as her “magical dog” who changed her life. She began to have balance issues last year. “Randall keeps me straight” she shares. “He makes me happy.”