Guiding With Seoul: MABVI Travels to Korea

Kyle and Andrea running

Running in Seoul!

By Andrea Croak, Team Coordinator of MABVI’s Team With A Vision

Recently my coworker Kyle Robidoux invited me on a trip of a lifetime: to head to Seoul, Korea, for a few days and assist in presenting at the K-Sports Foundation’s inaugural 2016 International Guiderunner Conference. There, we would talk about how we at the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) manage our robust volunteer guide services, including MABVI’s 1:1 Volunteer Program; United in Stride, our online guide matching resource; and Team With A Vision, our running team made up of athletes who are blind and visually impaired, their sighted guides, and supporters.

With an opportunity like this, of course I said YES! Continue reading

Mike Wardian: Running Blindfolded for a Cause

Mike Wardian running blindfolded with Chad Carr guiding

Mike Wardian running blindfolded with Chad Carr guiding in preparation for the Blindfold Challenge at the BAA 5k (Photo credit: Rosa Evora / InsideTracker)

Post by Mike Wardian

“Don’t do it!”

This was the general reaction of many of my friends and family to my announcement that I was going to take part in the “Blindfold Challenge,” an annual event at the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) 5k to raise funds and awareness for local organizations, where I would be running to support the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI).

All I was thinking was “heck yeah,” but like with so many things, all my loved ones were just doing what they should do and looking out for me. I was just stoked and honored to be asked and thought less about getting hurt and more about what it would feel like, sound like, and how fast I could run without the use of my sight and dependent on another person to lead and guide me.

I had heard about the Blindfold Challenge when a buddy and fellow Ultrarunner named Kyle Rodiboux, who also works for MABVI, asked me to run it. I said “Sure!” We talked a bit about how it would work, who my guide would be (it turned out to be Chad Carr, who is a stud and a cool guy – thank you Chad!) and what I was expected to do. Continue reading

Poor Eyesight, Excellent Vision

Peter Alan Smith running the 1994 Boston Marathon for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Peter Alan Smith running the 1994 Boston Marathon for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Post by Peter Alan Smith

Peter Alan Smith holds an MBA from Harvard University and is a Trust Administrator for John Hancock, having worked there for almost 30 years. In addition, he currently teaches Risk Management at the College of Charleston’s School of Business and and serves as the Board Chairperson for the South Carolina Commission for the Blind.

Peter hasn’t let vision loss prevent him from pursuing the sports that he loves, including becoming a 1995 Paralympic silver medalist in tandem cycling. At the 1994 Boston Marathon, Peter competed on what would later become known as Team With A Vision with the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI).

Hey there, my name is Peter Alan Smith. I’m also known around Charleston, South Carolina as the Midnight Golfer. That’s the title of my forthcoming book! But the story isn’t just about golf. It’s about joyfully overcoming many diverse obstacles. There will be more to come on that later on.

I ran my first Boston Marathon back in 1993; 23 years ago! I was subsequently recruited by what was then known as the first Nike/MAB Team – what is now called Team With A Vision – to run the 1994 Boston Marathon. I guess that makes me one of MABVI’s grizzled old veterans! I’m 57 now and run 5K’s, toodle around on my tandem, and litter golf courses with stray balls.

After completing the 1993 Boston Marathon, the L Street Running Club asked me to write an article for their newsletter about my experience at the event as a blind runner. So I am sharing it here following some further observations. Continue reading

Exercising My Soul as a Boston Marathon Guide for the Visually Impaired

By Dr. Vincent Hau, vitreoretinal physician and surgeon at the Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center, California

Vincent Hau guiding Richard Hunter as they run the Boston Marathon

VIncent Hau guiding Richard Hunter at the Boston Marathon

Like most avid marathon runners, I’ve always dreamed of running the most prestigious marathon race in the world: the Boston Marathon. I first qualified when I was a medical student nearly 11 years ago, but was afraid of requesting time off from my third-year clinical rotations to run it. For the following 10 years I’ve always regretted never asking.

Since joining Kaiser Permanente, an institution that values an employee’s health and well-being via a strong work-life balance, I’ve been able to achieve qualifying for the Boston Marathon again. Ten years later, in 2014, I ran the post-bombing marathon in a personal record time and shared in showing the world how a terrorist act would never dissuade the spirit of our running community.

This year, after having to take nearly a half-year hiatus from training due to plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis, I knew that in running Boston I would not get close to the time I achieved last year. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if I should be running at all, since I was still recovering and had run for only a couple of weekends prior. When I asked my orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist if I should run Boston, they answered with silence and that special smirk that implied they knew I would run it anyway if they said no. Continue reading

Meet this year’s Team With A Vision

Post and map by Steph Solis

Over 65 runners entered the Visually Impaired Division of the Boston Marathon this year, according to the Boston Athletic Association. Most of them will be running as part of Team With A Vision.

Team With A Vision has been running to raise funds and awareness for blind and visually impaired individuals for 21 years. This year’s team is the largest yet.

We’re bringing in runners from all over the country, as well as some from Canada. Some are champions, others are newcomers, but they’ve all spent the last several months preparing to meet at the starting line in Hopkinton.

Below is a map highlighting the runners from Team With A Vision, including those in the Visually Impaired Division and the Open Division. Click on the link to see each runner’s bio.

Getting to the finish line as a team

Tim Paul_Edit (1)

Ed Rutkowski, runner 11618 on the left wearing sunglasses and fist-pumping, and Tim Paul, runner 16504, cross the finish line of the 2003 Boston Marathon.

This post was written by Ed Rutkowski, a 2003 sighted guide on Team With A Vision.

For me, running a marathon was an improbable undertaking. I didn’t expect I’d be running the Boston Marathon, much less after getting knee surgery and experiencing some vision loss. However, I eventually became a running guide for Team With A Vision in 2003.

I had already run the Boston Marathon when I came across a short newspaper article about Barbara Lischinsky, a blind woman who was running the marathon as part of Team With A Vision. Having undergoing retina repairs and cataract surgery in both eyes, I decided I would direct my running efforts at charities like MABVI. This inspired my Boston qualification run at Disney in January 2003, after which I received an invitation to be a running guide. Even more special, I learned that my partner would be Tim Paul, a 1976 graduate of Lyons Township High School in Illionis where I had graduated 10 years before!

I first met Tim on the Saturday before the race. We looped the shoestring between our fingers and went on a five-mile run.  Although this was my very first experience as a guide, Tim and I immediately fell into an easy rhythm and I quickly learned how to use the tether for direction— slack for left and tension for right. I have no explanation as to why guiding Tim with that simple shoestring, which I had never been introduced to until that first day, became almost immediately second nature to me.

I had few expectations, other than knowing that it would be Tim’s race and that I was there simply to facilitate it being the best race he could run. Tim adjusted to the course and his fatigue and then I adjusted to Tim. From that run, I recognized that finishing would be a challenge for Tim and me, but he seemed very confident and determined.

While I was constantly talking and encouraging Tim throughout the race, he said only one sentence to me over those final miles: “Only wimps walk.”  Indeed I guided Tim around numerous walkers.  Tim was pleased with his time at Boston.  And, for me, that was all that counted.

The day after the race, I had breakfast with Tim and four other visually impaired folks at the Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge where we stayed. That breakfast that was almost as memorable as the race itself. I was the only sighted individual at the table, so I read off the menu. Having two young daughters, that was not the first time I had done this, but I never had to repeat a thing. Everyone ordered from my first reading. Tim, who sat next to me, dropped his fork during the meal. I got up and retrieved a clean one from another table and told everyone what I was doing. A few minutes later, Tim dropped his folk again. I got up, retrieved another fork and told Tim that if he dropped this one that he was going to have to get on the floor and find it himself. That brought out a big laugh from everyone, including Tim.  Before that weekend, I would have never thought to joke with a blind person like that.

That marathon was the slowest of five Boston runs, but it was also the most rewarding. My years of running have ended, but my memories of TWAV will last forever. Indeed TWAV proved itself to be Boston Strong well before it became a universal saying.