Meet Class #256
Class #256 graduated last week—with honors, of course—and we thought you’d enjoy getting to know them. From a pair of brothers receiving their first guide dogs to a college student and an Army veteran, this class was a wonderful mix.
Meet the Class
- José Quintanilla has a new best friend in Gibson, a friendly Lab guide dog that loves belly rubs. Gibson will accompany José on his vending machine route and will love hanging out with José’s brother Fabian and his new guide, Tyler.
- Fabian Quintanilla feels more confident with yellow Lab Tyler at his side. He and his brother both said goodbye to white canes and opted for the freedom and faster pace that guide dogs bring. With his bachelor’s degree in hand and with Tyler’s help, Fabian hopes to become a teacher soon.
- Debra Williams had a hard time leaving her first guide dog behind, but her smiles returned when she met a sweet golden retriever named Ava. The two will volunteer in their community and travel to annual church conferences together. A match made in heaven!
- Trainers matched a fast-paced guide dog for on-the-go college student Kayla Copass, and her smart black Lab named Dottie earned several nicknames including “Speedy Gonzalez” and “Black Bullet.” Trainers had to stay on their toes to keep up with this spirited pair.
- Patti Kohler’s first guide dog, Melissa, will accompany her to work as a school social worker. This sweet goldador will soon make new dog friends, as Patti and her husband are the designated dog-sitters in their group. As a former Walkathon fundraiser, Patti never thought of any other school.
- As a wife, mom of a teenager, soon-to-be grandmother, independent living skills instructor to visually impaired children and teens, and a senior at St. Leo College, Heather Tuck has no time to let vision loss slow her down. Her first guide, Martin, is a confident, hardworking yellow Lab whose affectionate kisses earned him the nickname “Boyfriend.”
- After losing her vision, Janet Byer lost the pleasure from her hobbies of boating, diving, jet skiing, ATV’s, and horses. Now with her guide Kona by her side, Janet and this playful yellow Lab are making plans to travel by air and train. “I’m just letting go and trusting him,” she says.
- Chase Vickers visited our campus as a child when his dad worked here. Now a yellow Labrador guide named Preppy has changed his life. “She’s majorly increasing my confidence,” he says. Preppy will lead the way as Chase starts college soon.
- Arsenio Cordero served eight years in the Army and worked for 25 years in the same New York hospital as an X-ray technician. Vision loss forced him to retire early, but he kept pushing forward in his quest for independence. Now that he’s met an adorable yellow goldador guide named G., he says, “It’s like we have the same DNA. We belong together!”