Meet Class 275

The group consists of 5 women and 4 men. There are 2 black Labradors, and 7 yellow Labradors. There are also 3 female trainers and 1 male trainer pictured.

Pictured from left to right: Christalyn Byrd and guide Midnight, Mike Gilliam and guide Charlie, Richard Boyce and guide Stew, trainer Alice Ryskamp, Brian Howerton and guide Julia, trainer Jonathan Bjaland, Chrissy Terry and guide Pappy, Sarah Leger and guide Doc Champion, trainer Chrissy Sanford, Chantale Williams and guide Riley, trainer Christine Fulton, Edgar Garcia and guide Ajax, Tatiana Henneha and guide Liberty

Congratulations Class #275!

Today we celebrate the joy of achievement as Class #275 graduates with their new guide dogs. These teams met the challenges of training with courage, effort, and patience and have accomplished so much together. We are excited for their future and congratulate them on their success.

Meet the persistent and accomplished individuals of Class #275:

  • With her guide dog, Midnight, by her side Christalyn Byrd can now easily walk around her neighborhood. This gentle and loving black Lab made it possible for Christalyn to put down her cane and put her trust in her guide.
  • Before he arrived for training, Thomas “Mike” Gilliam didn’t think he could be surprised by his dog. “I knew my dog would be good, but Charlie is amazing,” he says. “All the dogs in my class are. Every day is just—wow.”
  • As a former Peace Corps volunteer, teacher, and pastor, Richard Boyce enjoys learning new things and experiencing life. Blind from birth, he refuses to let his vision loss define him. His affectionate and conscientious guide dog, Stew, is ready to guide Richard on new adventures.
  • It takes a certain level of determination and faith to complete a college degree in music when you’ve never had vision, and Brian Howerton has plenty of both. This busy husband and father of two now serves as a worship pastor, and his first guide dog, Julia, will help get where he needs to go.
  • In 2018, Chrissy Terry’s beloved guide dog retired just before Chrissy’s 10-year-old son lost his vision, too. At first, Chrissy was reluctant to return for another guide. But now she has fallen in love with Pappy, an “amazingly sweet and cuddly” yellow Lab. “Pappy is awesome,” she says. “Now I’ll be able to have my independence again.”
  • Sarah Leger feels great walking alongside her third guide dog, Doc Champion. Her previous guide dogs retired from service, and Doc Champion, an affectionate yellow goldador, is ready to guide Sarah into her future as she finishes up her degree in early childhood education.
  • Chantale Williams writes romance novels, manages human resources for a family business, and stays busy as a mom. She’s been matched with Riley, a calm, lovable, and “bit of a goof” yellow Lab who is giving her the independence she needs for her fast-paced life.
  • Massage therapy student Edgar Garcia is excited about his newfound independence, thanks to his active and smart guide dog, Ajax. The two plan to ride public transportation to Edgar’s school and eventually take a trip overseas.
  • When Tatiana Henneha lost her vision, it was a difficult diagnosis. “I’m 26; I still want to do stuff!” she says. “I got my first job when I was 14 and I’ve always worked—until this.” Now Liberty, her affectionate, hardworking guide dog, helps her regain her freedom.

Class #275, welcome to the Southeastern Guide Dogs family!


Did you miss our live stream of today’s graduation? Don’t worry! You can still view it here. Congratulations Class #275 on your hard work and we can’t wait to see your progress.

Posted on February 26, 2019 | Category: Blog