Aerial and Splashs' Rowing Blog -- U.S. National Adaptive Rowing Team
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2003 Worlds/Milan

My Guide Dogs, Rowing, family and friends, my ingredients for success.

My History of Rowing
I began rowing at Humboldt State University in 1975 - 1976, and was on the first crew team at Humboldt; we had enough people for one mixed-8 boat.  In 1982-1984 I attended Mills College in Oakland where I was on the crew team.  Rowing was in my blood, and after leaving Mills I wanted to continue rowing, joined what was the Sausalito Rowing Club, and bought my first open water rowing shell, an Aero.  After getting off the night shift at Marin General I would row on San Francisco Bay.  In 1988, I lost my sight due to eye drops that, unbeknownst to me,  had been tampered with.  Six months after losing my sight, a friend from the boathouse took me out to row in a double. Rowing and my Guide Dog have been the two stabilizers and motivators for me to reconstruct my life. 

My Family, Friends and Co-workers; The people who have made it possible for me to go to Worlds!
 
These are just a few of the individuals that are inspiration and support that have made it possible for me to compete in Worlds.  There are many more people that I didn't mention, but know that it is the inspiration I receive from friends, family and co-workers that has helped me re-direct my life after losing my sight, and to acheive the goals I set for myself.  Thank you!!!
 
Family/Friends/Volunteers/ Co-Workers
 
Claire Gilbert (Mom) gets up at 4:00am six days a week, She meets me at the Marin Rowing boathouse where my teammates take turns picking me up for practice.  She waits in the car with Hedda while I am on the water, and then takes me to work. She is always there to help me out.  She accompanied us last year to Seville for the first Worlds, and will be joining us in Philadelphia on the 18th to fly to Milan with us.  She will be the official "Hedda Holder" when I am on the water. 
 
Larry Lobel:  My very understanding husband, who calls himself the "rowing widower".  He has supported my efforts to get to the gym 3 days a week, and row with the Marin Master Women.  .  He will be following us from home. 
 
Etta Allen and Deanne: Etta adopted my retired of 8 years Guide Dog Deanne.  Deanne is an incredible female German Shepherd that was an outstanding guide.  Etta and Deanne do pet therapy together at Marin General Hospital, sit on many boards including Guide Dogs for the Blind.  Both Etta and Deanne are a bright light in my life! 
 
Marin Womans Advanced Masters team:  This is the greatest group of women 27-70 years old, who are the most dedicated hard working committed women I have ever met in the sport of rowing.  They have always included me on the team like any other member.  They even have an on line carpool schedule, where they sign up to pick me up and bring me to practice, Making a 30 mile round trip before we ever get on the water.  I love them all, and I wouldn't be in the competetive condition I am now without them. 
 
Perry Heffelfinger:  Perry and I have been doubles rowing partners in Sausalito, rowing on San Francisco Bay in our Maas double for more than 5 years.  We have competed together in the Open Ocean Rowing Regatta, two Catalina Crossings, and one Catalina circumnavigation.  I will miss rowing with her for the next couple months! 
 
Holly Turner:  Holly is an All American tri-athlete who participates and wins Iron Man competitions.  I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Holly as my trainer the past 2 years.  Holly will be competing in an Iron Man the end of August.  Go Holly, you are one of my heros!
 
Dame Rahl:  Amazing work-out partner who inspires me to keep training.  Dame's voice is always smiling! Dame keeps the competative fires burning for me. 
 
Janette Gilbert:  Janette is my niece, and since she has moved to Petaluma, we have worked out together at the gym, and it is so special to have her in my life.  She works hard, just ran her first 1/2 marathon, and is a great inspiration.
 
Jordan Turner:  Jordan, Holly's daughter, rower on the NBRC Jr's team has been another work-out partner.  She is very strong and has lots of drive!
 
Sarah Jones:  Sarah Jones is a rower who was on the US National team for 12 years, and participated in 2 Olympics.  Our friendship started in Milan in 2003 where Hedda was the catalyst.  Our friendship grew from there.  Sarah is a phenominal athlete, and shared her experience and friendship with me.  She overcame big obsticles with a back injury.  She generously rowed with me in a double at the Head of the Charles in 2004 just a few months after she competed in Athens.  In The summer of 2005, she asked me to perform the marriage ceremony for her nuptuals with Jeff Donaldson.  This was a great honor for me.  You are my hero Sarah!!
 
Sandy Armstrong and Jim Anderson  :  Managers of Marin Rowing.  From the first time I approached you about rowing at Marin Rowing you never said no, and have always supported my equal participation.  Thank you!
 
Rick Brown:  Rick has been the coach for the Womens Masters team for the past 2 years.  I have always been included, and held to the same standards as the rest of the team.  Rick is amazing, being able to manage 44 women from the age of 27-70.  Mighly impressive. 
 
Shirwin Smith:  Founder of OWRC (Open Water Rowing Center), Shirwin overcame her fear of having a blind person rowing her boats on SF bay to become one of my greatest supporters.  Shirwin is a visionary woman in the sport of rowing! 
 
Elizabeth Swan: Dormitory Manager at Guide Dogs, great buddy and mother of Hedda's best friend, GSD Nika. 
 
Lori Brown:  Lori is a Master Trainer at Guide Dogs.  Hedda's instructor who created the perfect partnership when she matched us together!
 
Russell Redenbaugh: Classmate from Guide Dogs in 1989 when I got Webster and he got Royce.  Russell was my inspiration for achievement and high goals.  I will be staying with Russell and his Guide Arlo for the 2 weeks of training camp in Philadelphia as I did last year before Seville. 
 
John Riley:  Adaptive coach in 2004, has been given me a lot of encouragement, and pushed me past what I thought I could ever acheieve.  Summer of 2005, John worked with me 2 times a day for a week in a lightweight single Empacher on the Schuylkill River.  I went from being a nervous, tentative rower in the single, to strong and confident. 
 
Ken Altenburger and Bristol:  Ken and lab golden cross, Guide Bristol are co-workers at Guide Dogs and great friends.  Ken is always an inspiration. We share a love for friendly competition, and stay away from each others sports.

When You Meet a Working Guide Dog Team

Click here to read about Guide Dog Etiquette

Outreach Manager at Guide Dogs for the Blind

I have the privilege of working with staff, and volunteers throughout the US and Canada to do outreach to people who are blind or visually impaired to let them know about the option of having a Guide Dog.  We work with organizations that work with the blind, blindness professionals, individuals, and parents of blind children.  It is a rewarding job that I feel passionate about, motivated by how my Guide Dogs and impacted my life. 

Guide Dogs for the Blind

My history of Guide Dogs
In 1989 I received my first Guide Dog, Webster,
a yellow labrador retriever.  He was the catalyst for many of my "firsts" after losing my sight. Webster helped me through voice output computer courses in San Francisco, volunteering at Guide Dogs to give tours and speakers, working as a medical transcriber at Marin General, and meeting my husband Larry.  Webster retired to his puppy raising family, Carlene and Lindy Hahn, and on a sheep ranch till he was 13.
 
Then came P.J.(the pajama puppy), a male yellow Labrador  retreiver. Who worked for a year until I got my job as Director of Volunteers at Guide Dogs.  PJ was smart enough to figure out that there were easier options than guide work and enjoyed retirement with his puppy raiser Crystal Bettencourt.
 
Audrey, a  female yellow Labrador retriever and I became partners in 1994.  She was a gal with a lot of spunk, she was a German shepherd in Labrador body.  Audrey could open drawers to check for toys and would self despense ice cubes from the front of the refrigerator. 
 
Deanne, a female German shepherd, entered my life in January of 1996 and was my partner for 7 years.  I had always wanted a German shepherd, and she was my dream dog.  She was the maid of honor at our wedding, went to Craftsbury sculling camp in Vermont and countless regattas including watching me from the escort boat at the Catalina Crossings.  Seven years 24/7, her retirement came in May of 2002 at age 8.5.  I was fortunate to find the perfect home for her with Etta Allen, who truly loves her as much as I do.  Deanne's retirement is a life where her needs are considered first, and she couldn't be happier (nor could I).  We get to see each other weekly and my new dog Hedda and Deanne have developed a special friendship, as have Etta and I.
 
October of 2002, I received Hedda, a female German Shepherd, solid black.  We trained on the Oregon campus of Guide Dogs for the Blind.  I am still amazed to find that there is another dog that is extraordinary in her own way, like Deanne!  (click the link "Hedda's training Journal" to read more about Hedda and training with a new Guide Dog)

Go to link to read Hedda's Training Journal.  The twenty one day retrain class at the Oregon campus of Guide Dogs for the Blind, where Hedda and I learned to became partners.

Hedda's Bio
 
Hedda was born December 20, 2000 at Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael.  Her mother is Mystique (black and tan GSD)  and her father is Dave (black GSD).  Hedda was raised in Washington state for her first 6 months by Dorothy Baever and then finished by Janine Prindle, Hedda was Janine's 25th puppy to raise.  Hedda was trained on the Oregon campus of Guide Dogs by Lori Brown.