Congrats, grads! Class #253

Guide Dog Class #253

Pictured from left to right: Youlanda Daffron and guide Cody, Kurt Ottman and guide Key, Chris Chaffin and guide Kathleen, Trainer Chrissy Placido, Frank Goossens and guide Ruby, Trainer Jonathan Bjaland, Jimmie Mackery and guide Cameron, Kevin Hart and guide Chief, Trainer Laura White, Jan DeGraw and guide Terra Ceia, Paul Monette and guide Maria, Marsha Keesee and guide Jeevan, Trainer Alice Ryskamp, Darby Sherbert and guide Larry

Class #253 graduated on March 3, 2017, and took a part of us with them—their new guide dogs. Welcome to the Southeastern Guide Dogs family!

Here’s a glimpse at the class:

  • Youlanda Daffron of Palmetto, Florida, works full time at Envision America, a company that makes adaptive technology for the visually impaired. Her second guide, Cody, an energetic and playful golden retriever, will guide her both at work and at play, as she stays active through martial arts and live action roleplaying.
  • A huggable, lovable black Labrador named Key is the fifth guide dog for Kurt Ottman of Ormand Beach, Florida. Kurt and Key have big plans for long walks, taking the bus around town, and enjoying greater independence.
  • Chris Chaffin of Champlain, New York, received his fourth guide dog, Kathleen. She’ll help him on the job managing a financial aid office for a technical school and at home with his active family. When we asked this busy parent about his hobbies, he answered, “Raising two kids!”
  • Frank Goossens of Sarasota, Florida wanted a dog with a personality that clicked with his. Frank must have a fabulous personality, because he went home with a spirited, fast moving, intelligent, and loving golden retriever named Ruby. A perfect match!
  • Jimmie Mackery’s dad always told him, “Nothing is impossible. If you have an obstacle, work at it until you figure out how to get it done.” Jimmie, from East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, now overcomes obstacles with the help of his fourth guide, a smart yellow Lab named Cameron.
  • Kevin Hart of Reytown, Missouri, plans to move to a new, pedestrian friendly community and become more active again. With his yellow Lab and second guide, Chief, Kevin’s life is taking a positive turn.
  • This former puppy raiser never imagined she’d one day need a guide dog of her own. For Jan DeGraw of Seminole, Florida, she’s gone home with a fast-paced guide and walking companion who helps her stay active, her new black Lab, Terra Ceia.
  • After Air Force veteran Paul Monette of Cambridge, Massachusetts, left Vietnam, he drove a tractor trailer. Vision loss from a car accident meant finding a new career, and Paul became a social worker. A playful, sweet yellow goldador and his second guide, Maria, will give him the independence and mobility he needs.
  • Before Marsha Keesee of Tavares, Florida, received her first guide dog, she thought she probably couldn’t afford one. She was glad to discover we offer ours at no cost! This active retiree, Walkathon fundraiser, and church volunteer will stay on-the-go with her second guide, a sensitive and energetic yellow Lab named Jeevan.
  • Darby Sherbert of Freeport, Maine, hopes to return to college soon, and a big black Labrador named Larry is now her constant companion. She recalls meeting Larry and their first night together. “I curled up on the floor with him. I had just lost my own dog and he flopped over and lay right next to me and I thought, ‘This is perfect!’ I couldn’t be happier.”

Posted on March 7, 2017 | Category: Blog, Graduates