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Volunteer Spotlight: The Ladd Family

In honor of National Volunteer Week, meet the Ladd family. Whether they’re volunteering their time by raising Guiding Eyes puppies (14, to be exact!) or guiding our CEO Thomas Panek in the Boston Marathon, the Ladds have volunteered countless hours to support Guiding Eyes’ mission.

Layla hiking
Layla joins her puppy raisers for a hike

The Ladd family began their long legacy of volunteering for Guiding Eyes almost 20 years ago in 1999, when they took home their first potential future guide dog, Fletch. Two decades and over a dozen puppies later, the Ladds are now raising black lab Layla.

“Layla is now five months old and the 14th puppy we’ve raised for Guiding Eyes,” says Ruth Ladd. “She has tons of energy and loves playing outside with other dogs, but when she’s not, she enjoys curling up next to me for a good nap. She is so sweet — everyone at work loves when I bring her to visit.”

Coach Ladd stands with Thomas Panek
Aaron and Thomas before heading out to run the marathon

When Aaron, a.k.a. Coach Ladd, saw the request for a member of the Brooks Running team to guide a blind runner in the Boston Marathon, little did he know the blind runner would turn out to be the CEO of an organization his family had supported for years. Thomas Panek was preparing to run his fifth Boston Marathon, and Coach Ladd signed on as a volunteer guide, leading him through the first half of the iconic race. For 20 kilometers, Coach Ladd guided Tom through pouring rain, helping him complete another marathon and officially kick off the Guiding Eyes WAGATHON fundraiser.

Aaron Ladd's family cheers on Aaron and Thomas at the Boston Marathon
Members of the Ladd family cheer on Aaron and Thomas on race day

“When my son Aaron texted me that he would be guiding Thomas in the Boston Marathon, I was really proud of him. I was excited to see someone else in our family get involved with Guiding Eyes for the Blind,” Ruth says. “Despite the weather, our family was there cheering them on from the sidelines.”

This National Volunteer Week, Guiding Eyes sends a big thank you to the entire Ladd family and all of our dedicated volunteers!

Aaron guides Thomas through harsh weather conditions during the Boston Marathon