After losing most of my sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa, I started back running in 2000 with a tether and a guide. Sometimes that guide was my husband, Steve; other times friends have guided me, and, at times, even someone I met for the run of the day. I love to run, and it has felt freeing as I have navigated vision loss. After some 5K, 10K, and half marathons, it was time to complete my first marathon in 2013. Since then, I have completed nine marathons, including Boston twice and New York City (NYC) once. I was excited to round it up to ten this year with running the NYC Marathon again with Achilles International. Understandably, it was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Shortly after this cancellation, I received notification of the Hope and Possibility Run that would be held virtually. This year, it would be run to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It sounded great but I wanted to be a part of a team. It is so much more fun with a team.
Starting a Team
Then, I received an email from Sarah – a member of Team “Daring Sisters,” a group of women who have attended one of our Daring to Own Your StoryTM Retreats, suggesting that we create a team! I loved the idea. We put it out and had 47 women and 3 men on our team. Many of our team were individuals who are blind or low vision as well as our friends/guides. Some had run long distances before; others were new to running. Some had previously run with guides; others received a tether for the first time. Some used their canes; others navigated with their guide dogs, while others ran with a sighted (human) guide. We were from across the country and had a week to complete our run/walk/hike/ride. We held a team meeting prior and talked about the ADA and what it meant to us. We shared when we planned to run so we could cheer each other on virtually. We had turquoise team shirts with white lettering that represented our connection.
We created a team logo of women in a horseshoe shape. I love the concept that a horseshoe represents openness – meaning there is always room for more to join us. Our retreats have continued to expand as we offer virtual retreats nine and ten this fall.
A race shirt needs sponsors. So I reached out to my Women Entrepreneur group in Bountiful, Utah. (My day job is business owner/licensed clinical mental health counselor at Resilient Solutions, Inc in Bountiful, Utah). They rallied to support us. We sent out our t-shirts with a little race swag to each team member.
Let the Race Begin
Through the last week of July, which culminated with the anniversary of the signing of the ADA, we cheered each other on. Sheila is running on Saturday in Minnesota — “You go girl.” Sarah is running on Sunday in Texas — “You got this!” Debi is hiking on Wednesday in Oregon with her dogs – “Yay!!” All week we celebrated one another and our victories throughout the country. The following Saturday morning, we had a virtual team post-race party to celebrate.
Benefits of the Race
- This run brought a group of women together to feel the energy of support for one another. We all need that.
- This run brought a group together to stretch and try something new or perhaps go further than they usually did.
- This run was meaningful as we were reminded of the hope and possibility that the ADA brings to each of us.
As our shirts say, “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our story, we get to write a brave new ending.” – Brene Brown. And that we have.