E-Community Activity: Randy and Taking On Challenges

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Subject: Randy and taking on challenges

Read the following story about Randy and/or view the video presentation Taking Charge 1: Three Stories of Success and Self-Determination. Then tell about a challenge that you have taken on.

Randy, who is blind, has an uncanny knack for not allowing the "unknowns" to get in his way. When he encounters a difficult situation, he asks questions. He uses creative thinking to circumvent challenges without allowing the challenges to become overwhelming or discouraging. He sees every challenge as an opportunity to be inventive. Randy tells how whenever he travels to a new location, he studies the layout of the community to figure out the best routes to the places where he needs to go.

Randy found courage in the pockets of his own positive spirit. When he was seventeen years old he ventured alone to California to get his guide dog, Mogul. "I had been away from my parents before, like any normal kid. I've gone to camp and stuff like that. But this was my first flight on my own, and I was going to meet people I had never met before. I would be staying at this place for a month and had no idea where it was or what it was. So it was fairly daunting. I had never done plane travel on my own. So, I had to say to myself, 'Well, eventually things are going to work out.' A lot of the time that's how I work. I say, 'We may not be able to plan this out completely, but it'll work out somehow.' There's always something that will come up. Some sort of gift of fortune that will make things work."

Denise and Randy met in high school and were married at age 21. Both say that Randy's disability was not an issue in their dating or in their decision to get married. Denise relays that though they went to the same middle school too, they didn't meet until later. She said, "I was really shy and didn't talk much. If I don't talk, then Randy doesn't know I exist, because I'm not visible. My interactions with Randy were limited to going down crowded halls of the school and running into him and getting knocked over. But during our junior year, half our classes were together. And we just started dating."

Randy handles awkward situations with class. He describes an episode he had in a restaurant. Though he was a regular customer, there was a new employee at the counter who did not know him and told him he could not come in with his guide dog. "There were three ways I could have handled it. I could have walked out, which I didn't want to do because I really like the food. I could have blown up at her and then maybe got kicked out for disturbing the peace. Or I could do what I did, which was to be calm and explain that Mogul is a guide dog and by law allowed to come in. I usually carry cards that have information and a phone number for people who want to know more. But I find staying calm works with most people."

After describing his resilient nature, Randy is quick to tell others to never give up. What is an example of how you have been successful in doing something that was difficult or new for you?