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September/October 2013 Graduate Class

Group photo - class of Sept Oct 2013

Special recognition and thanks to our 2013 Graduation Sponsor, Sally Stokhamer.  Thank you to the sponsors of our September/October graduation:

“Wishing graduates and guide dogs all the happiness and independence that their new partnerships will provide.”  -Jill Graper and Constellation Brands

“Congratulations to all the graduates.  I wish for all of you many years of happiness and success with your guide dogs.” -Mayda Arias, M.D.

“We wish Diana and Alan a happy and safe journey as they embark on their new partnership.”
-Bunny Wilks and Ephraim Seidman

Meet our Residential Graduates
Janie and Palmer
Donna and Akron
Diana & Alan
Ronald & Jess
Brenda & Barney
Tracey & Todd
Brady & Diego
Robert & Foley
Kari & Seth

Home Training Graduates
Deanna & Lavender
Lynnette & Ashley
Jenna & Doreen
Linda & Ada
Angela & Felicia
Linda & Fauna
Tracy & Darrow

Many thanks to our instructors
Ben Cawley, Class Supervisor
Kate Schroer-Shepord, Class Instructor
Kat Poallo, Class Instructor
Jim Gardner, Home Training Director
Jamie Viezbicke, Mike Goehring, Melinda Angstrom, Graham Buck, Megan Crowley, Gary Jakubos – Home Trainings
Instructor Jamie Viezbicke has moved to California to be closer to her family and her fiancé, Clayton.  We wish her the very best as she enters the next stage of her life; she’ll always be a part of the Guiding Eyes family! 
Amy Scordato, Instructor Assistant

Janie and Palmer

Janie traveled from Louisiana to be matched with Palmer, a male yellow Labrador and her first guide dog.  Her vision loss is due to retinitis pigmentosa.  Janie received a degree from Centenary College; now with Palmer, she’ll soon seek part time employment as a receptionist.  Janie enjoys reading, watching TV and taking care of her grandchildren.  Her cousin encouraged her to apply to Guiding Eyes and her experience has far exceeded the expectations she had.  A large family of seven children and thirteen grandchildren make holidays filled with laughter and fun, and Palmer will be a welcome addition.  He brings an independence Janie began to think was impossible and she is looking forward to a wonderful future.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Bonnie Leonard of the Cleveland West Region.


Donna and Akron

This month was full of excitement for Donna; she received her third guide dog, black Lab Akron, and celebrated her 42nd wedding anniversary.  Retinopathy of prematurity left Donna with low vision; she was married and the mother of three before she knew she was legally blind. Receiving her first guide dog truly changed her life.  “I was a small town girl and had never been away from home when I came to Guiding Eyes for my first guide dog.  Suddenly, I could do things others could.”  With her first guide by her side, Donna earned her degree in social work.  Donna enjoys reading, long walks, Tai Chi and Yoga.  She’ll return home to her husband, grandchildren and the newest addition – a great granddaughter.

Congratulations to puppy raisers, the Jocelyn & Tom Pritchard of the Virginia Beach Region.


Diana and Alan

Michigan resident Diana received black Lab Alan, her second guide dog.  Diana was born with glaucoma.  She is a graduate of Michigan State University with a major in communications and marketing.  Alan will accompany her to work at the State of Michigan’s historical library.  Diana’s husband, son, daughter and retired guide dog are excited to welcome Alan into the family.  In her free time, Diana enjoys gardening, music and language – particularly how people use language to convey messages.  She appreciates Guiding Eyes for the breeding program, the location and the application procedures that result in successful working teams.

Congratulations to puppy raisers, the Koblitz Family and Ephraim Seidman & Bunny Wilks of the  Richmond Region.



Ronald and Jess

Ron came from Florida and was matched with Jess, a female black Labrador.   Ron has been blind since he was eight but has been determined to live a full and active life.  He studied in California and worked as a licensed massage therapist for 18 years.  His specialized work with burn patients took him around the world.  An injury kept him from continuing his work in massage and he transitioned into buying and selling airline parts.  Ron is a fan of music and plays piano and guitar.  He also enjoys relaxing with a good book.  Ron is close to his three children and his 14 year old daughter provides his daily 5:30am wake-up call.  He is looking forward to regaining his freedom with Jess at his side.

Congratulations to puppy raisers, the Lauer Family the Montgomery Region.



Brenda and Barney

Brenda lives in Texas and was matched with her third guide dog Barney, a black Labrador.  Brenda lost her vision as a result of retinitis pigmentosa and first heard of Guiding Eyes while attending the School for the Blind in Pittsburg.  She loves reading, horses and travel.  Cane travel is doable but very uncomfortable; Brenda feels her guide dogs give her significantly more freedom and independence.  She is looking forward to returning home with Barney where they will join her fiancé, another Guiding Eyes graduate, and his guide dog.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Siobhan de Courcy of the Dominion Region.



Tracy and Todd

Tracy received her fifth guide dog, a yellow Lab named Todd.  Tracy’s vision loss is due to detached retinas.  She had been working as a master chef and baker and decided to switch gears; she went to college and earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s degree in rehabilitation teaching.  Tracy now works as a visual rehabilitation therapist at a VA hospital.  Her vision loss hasn’t kept away from her love of cooking, and she also enjoys gardening, knitting and quilting.  Tracy always keeps her retired guide dogs, and Todd will have an automatic new friend as they return home.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Christine Bordwine & Family and the Nerone & Poole Family of the Richmond Region.



Brady and Diego

Brady is matched with his second guide dog, a male black Labrador named Diego.  Together they will return home to Oklahoma where Brady works as a receptionist for a non-profit agency. Retinitis pigmentosa began affecting Brady’s vision at birth.  He lives on a farm with his parents, younger sister, three horses and a couple of cows.  Brady is looking forward to the way people treat him with his dog; he shares, “People don’t feel bad for you when you have a dog like they do when you use a cane.”

Congratulations to puppy raiser Eric Karsten of the Dominion Region.





Robert and Foley

Robert retired his first guide dog to his puppy raisers and returned to Guiding Eyes for Foley, a male yellow Labrador.  Robert’s vision loss was caused by macular degeneration.    He studied environmental science and worked as a lab technician in the waste water industry.  He decided to retire early after losing his sight, but was happy to have more time to spend on his favorite pastime: travel.  Foley will accompany Robert to meet his new grand child in March; the team will also visit Robert’s two sons, daughter, two grandsons, granddaughter and great granddaughter.   The combination of technology and guide dogs has been extremely beneficial for Robert; he is proud to say, “Zoom text opened my world, Guiding Eyes gave me my freedom.”

Congratulations to puppy raisers Larry & Vicki Dean and Jeanne Dregalla of the Cleveland West Region.


Kari and Seth

Kari is matched with a black male Labrador named Seth.  He is her sixth guide dog and will return home to Pennsylvania where her daughter and two grandchildren live.   Errands had been slow and tedious, and Kari looks forward to the increased travel speed she’ll have with Seth.  She loves his happy personality and appreciates all he’ll do to improve her life.  “These dogs guide us safely to and from destinations and love unconditionally.”

Congratulations to puppy raisers Don Fierce & Arlene Mure of the Maine Region,  Lynn Stas of the Eastern Mass Region and The Oonk Family of the Central NY Region.