We love to hear stories from the United In Stride community about how our website has worked for them. Today’s story comes to us from Barbara Bielinski.
I am a blind runner and a member of United in Stride. I recently traveled to Baltimore. Bad timing. I was registered to run a 10K back in Boston the very next day after I returned.
A sighted runner facing that situation would just toss her running shoes into her suitcase and take herself for a run in Baltimore, no problem. She wouldn't have to have any running connection there to make it happen.
So, what about me? Maybe as a blind runner, I wouldn't be able to manage a run in Baltimore? I didn't know anyone there to run with. I didn't know anyone in Baltimore at all.
Not a problem. I am a member of United in Stride.
I entered the ZIP Code of my Baltimore lodging into United in Stride's Find a Partner page and got a list of sighted guides in the area. I messaged the first five whose paces looked like a good match for mine. Three guides responded to me, two of whom were available to guide during my visit. I had the good fortune to run with John whose schedule worked out the best for me.
That's the logistics. Here are the things I celebrated in my heart every step of my four mile run along Baltimore's Inner Harbor with John:
- That someone thought to create a community of blind runners and guides and actually followed through with all the work of building the United in Stride website.
- That people got the word out to runners like John so he could consider that guiding a blind runner might be an experience he would like in his life. Aside from the guiding, which I could never manage without, you know that people who choose to become guides are people you like spending time with. Certainly, true of John. I enjoyed getting to know him during our run.
- That I also got the word about United in Stride. Kyle Robidoux, who works at the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired and manages United in Stride, spoke at an event I attended two years ago, and he made me realize that it was even possible to be a blind runner. (That's definitely a case of "If you build it they will come." I had no dreams of running until I met Kyle.)
The last part of what I was celebrating as I ran with John was exactly the same as any sighted runner would have experienced: the fresh air, the exhilaration, and the freedom to choose to run with absolutely no impediment to turning that choice into reality.
Thank you to everyone at United in Stride!