When Marybeth Hearn was 10, she asked her parents if she could train a puppy to become a guide dog. It turned into a lifelong mission.
Over more than five decades, Hearn has raised 56 dogs to assist visually impaired people. But her legacy doesn’t end there — the longtime, recently retired high school teacher has inspired several family members and dozens of students to turn out many more.
When she approached her parents decades ago, prospects seemed unlikely. Her mom didn’t like dogs, and her dad secretly doubted she would be able to find a sponsor to pay for the cost of the training.
Back in 1962, Hearn was so determined, however, that she presented the project at a Lions Club and raised $2,500.
Two sons and a granddaughter have followed in Hearn’s footsteps, but her greatest impact has come from mentoring a generation of student trainers who since 1992 have worked with 170 dogs that ended up in a range of service posts. This tradition and the classes on which they are based have remained strong all these year.
Even after classes went virtual in March due to the coronavirus, the program continued and has since turned out 12 puppies.