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October/November 2013 Graduate Class

Group photo - class of Oct Nov 2013


Special recognition and thanks to our 2013 Graduation Sponsor, Sally Stokhamer.

Thank you and congratulations to the Volunteer Puppy Raisers. 

Meet our Residential Graduates
Anita & Kenneth
Paul & Ray
Patricia J. & Thansa
Patricia N. & Fellow
Kevin & Anson
David & Martin
Kerri & Marcus
Bill & Warren
Jessie & Parson
Natalie & Cutlas
Judy & Bethanne

Many thanks to our instructors
Miranda Beckman, Class Supervisor
Woody Curry, Class Instructor
Megan Crowley, Class Instructor
Julie Angle, Class Instructor
Graham Buck, ACTION Instructor
Alex Wallitsch, Instructor Assistant


Anita and Kenneth

Californian Anita returned to Guiding Eyes to be matched with Kenneth, her second guide dog. Her vision loss is due to retinitis pigmentosa. Anita is a graduate of Hunter College’s music program and has sung on Broadway in Hello Dolly and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. She also performed in a Lincoln Center revival of South Pacific, where she met her husband. She enjoys theatre, concerts, reading, taking cruises and spending time with her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. Anita finds life to be “more open with a dog;” she continues to enjoy the freedom and active life that comes with having a wonderful guide and companion.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Valerie Metros and Irene and Maria Cucurullo of the North Carolina Region. 


Paul and Ray

Paul is a professor emeritus of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; he taught microbiology and pathology. On four occasions, the medical students voted him “Teacher of the Year” and “Outstanding Lecturer.” In addition, Paul directed the Clinical Microbiology Service at Presbyterian Hospital. He received the Sonnenwirth Award in Clinical Microbiology in 1992.Paul lost his sight due to progressive macular degeneration; this month he came to Guiding Eyes from Connecticut to receive his first guide dog, black Labrador Ray. After serving in the US Navy, Paul was commissioned as a reserve officer in the U.S. Public Health Service. He was assigned to the National Disaster Medical System and organized relief efforts and taught lectures on biological weapons. In addition, he flew search and rescue missions for the Civil Air Patrol.

Now 88, Paul is focused on writing fiction and enjoying his retirement through exercise and yoga. Ray will make it much easier for him to get around his condo community. Paul has been extremely impressed by Guiding Eyes; he finds the trainers knowledgeable and kind, and he feels the staff is extremely driven to help people succeed.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Rick and Glynis Tanner of the North Carolina Region.


Patricia J. and Thansa

Patty lost her vision due to glaucoma. This month she was matched with female black Labrador Thansa; the team will head home to Illinois to see Patty’s ten-year-old son, who is eagerly awaiting their return. He recently earned his black belt in Tae Kown Do, a sport he shares with his mom. Patty attended Johnson and Wales University and received an associate’s degree in culinary arts and a bachelor’s degree in food service management. She hopes to eventually open her own restaurant.  In the meantime, she loves cooking and party planning.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Azusa, Azumo and Ayumu Nishimura of the Montgomery Region.



Patricia N. and Fellow 

New Yorker Pat was matched with her third guide dog this month, male black Lab Fellow. Pat was born premature and has retrolental fibroplasia. She graduated with honors from the University of Miami where she dual majored in studio music and jazz and music education. After graduation, Pat left for California with just a one-way ticket and $75 in her pocket.

Pat returned to New York in 1984 and continued to build on her west coast career. She is now a successful jazz musician and plays alto saxophone. She is looking forward to renewed independence with Fellow;  they bonded quickly and she is confident they’ll enjoy their future together.

Congratulations to puppy raisers the Binney Family of the Eastern Massachusetts Region.


Kevin and Anson

Kevin was born with optic nerve atrophy. This month he received Anson, a male black Lab and his first guide dog. Kevin’s dad worked for the Coast Guard and their family moved around regularly. Nowadays, he is settled in Michigan. He works as a freelance entertainer, soloist and keyboard vocalist. Kevin looks at life as an adventure and enjoys being hired by artists and helping them to achieve their visions. For 36 years, Kevin had used a cane; he’s just beginning to reap the benefits of life with a guide dog. He shares, “Anson is awesome and this changes everything.”

Congratulations to puppy raiser Ann Marie Russell of the Cactoctin Region.



David and Martin

New Yorker David lost his vision due to retinoblastoma; this month he was matched with black Labrador Martin. David graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in economics. He now serves as the executive director of a nonprofit organization, as well as a partner in a real estate investment company, managing properties throughout New York State. David enjoys music, particularly playing piano and any type of jazz. He also loves to spend time with his 17-year-old daughter. David is looking forward to more efficient and graceful mobility with Martin, especially as it affects his work. He finds that he is received much more positively at conferences and donor meetings when he walks in with his guide dog.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Jill Snadecki of the Dutchess Region.




Kerri and Marcus

Kerri traveled from California for her third guide dog, black Lab Marcus. Her vision loss is due to retinopathy of prematurity. It had been several months since she retired her last guide and she is looking forward to walking in her neighborhood without running into people or obstacles. Kerri enjoys listening to music, knitting and crafting. She also spends many hours at the gym. Kerri doubted herself and her abilities while traveling with a cane; Marcus has restored her confidence.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Diana Farabaugh, Marlene Puglisi, and the Koblitz Family of the Prince William Region.




Bill and Warren

Bill Vignola and Warren

North Carolina resident Bill has been married for 45 years and has three daughters and four grandchildren. Warren, a yellow Labrador, will be his first guide dog. Bill went to school for mechanical engineering but worked as a manufacturing engineer. In one role, he worked with the astronauts on the lunar module for the Apollo program. As a child, Bill lost the sight in one eye from a railroad flare. He was later diagnosed with glaucoma, and ultimately a brain injury further compromised his vision. Bill recently published an Italian cookbook and is known in his church as “Mr. Ziti.”

Congratulations to puppy raiser Robert Hart of the Dutchess Region.




Jessie and Parson

Jessie lives with her parents in Florida. She has an older brother who is married. Her vision loss is due to retinitis pigmentosa and Parson, a male yellow Labrador, is her first guide dog. Jessie plans to find a job working as an assistant in an office. She is very active in sports, playing basketball with the Downs Syndrome Association and assistant coaching for the town’s Little League baseball team. She is also a member of the local running club. She teaches

Sunday school and relaxes by playing acoustic guitar, knitting and creating various arts and crafts. Two years ago her parents started preparing Jessie for the responsibility of a dog by having her become the primary family member responsible for their pet dog.  She feels that that Parson is an ideal partner; he trusts her and she trusts him.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Paul Huebner of the North Carolina Region.


Natalie and Cutlas

Natalie took a a few weeks off from her job as a Vocational Counselor with the Commission for the Blind in Oregon to participate in the Action program. She was matched with Cutlas, a male yellow Labrador and her second guide dog. Natalie lost her vision due to optic nerve damage at the age of eight. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology and disability studies from Berkeley and her masters in rehabilitation counseling from Western Oregon University. Natalie loves animals and fosters cats, dogs and underage kittens for the humane society and the local county animal shelter. She was able to purchase her first home this past December and is excited to introduce Cutlas to her retired guide and pet Chihuahua.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Erik and Jaymie Anderson of the Virginia Beach Region and Peyton Krevonick of the Richmond Region. 


Judy and Bethanne

Not profiled.