Recently I wrote about my 60th birthday celebration which turned into a surprise party for my friends. Well, they liked it so much they begged me to do it annually. So a tradition was started.
My next party idea came when I met Michael Hingson, the head of public relations at Guide Dogs. I was assigned to do a magazine story about him and his guide dog Roselle. He was a charming individual with a “can do” attitude and an excellent speaker. He came to national attention when he and Roselle escaped the twin towers inferno on 9-11. When it came time to plan my party I decided on a tour of Guide Dogs for the Blind. I asked Michael if he could be available to meet my group. He was so intrigued with my plans that he volunteered to be our tour guide that morning. He described everything as if he could truly see what he was talking about and navigated the same way. He exuded such remarkable confidence.
When we were done touring, we invited Michael and Roselle to join us for lunch at local restaurant. To watch Michael eating and talking you would hardly know he is blind except for Roselle at his feet. After lunch we went back to the campus and watched the monthly graduation ceremony. It is here that the “puppy raisers” – the people who raise and socialize potential guide dogs from four to eighteen months – officially turn their dogs over to the blind people who will use them. The blind person has been in training for a month working with their dog and has become to bond. Both the puppy raiser and the blind recipient talks about their love for the dog as the transfer is officially made. It is a very emotionally ceremony. Bring tissues if you go. You will never forget this event.
My group loved the trip to Guide Dogs for the Blind.
What was I going to do next?
After Guide Dogs, I added another facet to my birthday celebration. I already had said no gifts only cards. Now I changed that request. If someone wanted to do give me something for my birthday they could make it a donation in my name to Guide Dogs for the Blind. As a non-profit Guide Dogs depends on donations and with good reason, they give their dogs free to the blind. They are such a first-rate organization that I wanted to support them and this was a good way.
For my 62nd birthday I took my group to Sunol where we rode the train through the valley. It was a relaxed ride where we could talk and enjoy the outdoors. Then we drove to Livermore and had lunch in a winery restaurant and toured another tasting samples. We toasted my birthday and had cake to finalize the celebration. It was another fun memory for all of us.
My next idea came when I won a pair of tickets to Bonfante Gardens (now known as Gilroy Gardens). To check it out, I took my friend Nancy and we had a wonderful time. We tried everything. I loved the gorgeous gardens and the unusual circus trees which were the reason for its creation. I knew this would be the site for my next party. I swore Nancy to secrecy.
Sure enough on my 63rd birthday we met at the Danville park ‘n ride for our trip to Gilroy. There we had a guided tour of the park with its exquisite gardens and unusual circus trees. We rode the merry-go-round and we lunched with the daughter of the creator of the trees, a woman well into her 80’s. It was a day full of walking, talking and enjoying nature. The weather was perfect and the park impressive. My guests loved it. Another year rolled by.
To find out what my next birthday parties were look for them later this month.