On April 16th I did something I’ve never done before. I ran a 5k blindfolded. It was quite an undertaking, but honestly running blindfolded was the easiest part of the whole endeavor. First, I had to find a guide willing to go through the process with me, which I did (thanks Dulce!!). I was required to raise a significant amount of money ($1,000.00), attend a training session in Boston a week prior to the race, find hotel accommodations the weekend of the Boston Marathon (due to a 7:15 photo shoot at the Boston Common), and then attend a pretty swanky breakfast after the race. It was quite a big undertaking. And a pretty big deal.
The race itself was pretty cool – it took place the Saturday before the Boston Marathon, starting on the Common and actually crossing the marathon finish line. It’s a part of the Boston Athletic Association, which puts on a great race. Well organized, lots of volunteers, swag tents, finisher medals, timed start waves, and security. Lots of security. Overall there were about 10,000 runners and 30 of us were blindfolded.
What I learned from this experience is that it’s not that difficult to run without the use of vision. It helps to have a guide, obviously. And from there it was pretty simple: I just ran until Dulce told me to stop. Actually I think it might have been easier because I couldn’t check my watch for my time. I I didn’t have the scenery to distract me, but I found it easier to get into the flow of running. Instead of feeling tense and scared I felt calm and meditative. I trusted my guide as we’ve run many, many races together and I knew she’d get me safely across the finish line.
The goal was not to set a personal record. The goal was to raise $1,000.00 as required by agreeing to do this. That was the real challenge. I don’t like fundraising, but I have very generous family and friends. Thankfully. I am so grateful to everyone who helped me do this. I also wanted to help my sister’s school and the other associations that help the blind in Massachusetts. I’m really proud to say altogether altogether the Blindfold Challengers raised $31,000.00 for Perkins School for the Blind, MA Association of the Blind, and the National Braille Press. That’s going to help a lot of people.
My sister and I are pretty close. Even though there’s 80 miles between us we spend a lot of time together. And I’m always searching for ways to understand her experience in the world a little more. I know I can’t, really, but I don’t think that’s a good reason not to try. A long time ago I learned American Sign Language (ASL) so we can communicate. I’ve been working with deaf students for the past 13 years or so, and my interest in the field is the result of growing up with my sister. I’ve always focused on her deafness and not so much on her blindness. But how she sees the world is just as important to understanding her as how she communicates in the world.
And since I’m sharing, the other big reason I chose to do this is that my grandmother died a few months ago at the age of 99 1/2. Right before Christmas actually. She was immensely important to me and to so many who were lucky enough to know her. She and my sister were incredibly close. That’s an understatement. They had a bond. When the opportunity arose to run blindfolded to help my sister’s school, I knew participating in it would make my Gram so proud.
So thank you to my family, friends, mom, sister, grandmother, and Dulce my sighted guide for helping me to achieve this goal. It was quite an undertaking and I never could have done it without the support from all these wonderful people. I am grateful to everyone and so humbled by the experience. And thank you to my grandmother. I heard you cheering from heaven.