Winter/Spring Newsletter
Greetings Fellow Outdoor Enthusiasts!
Welcome to United In Stride's Winter/Spring newsletter. First, we would like to apologize to those of you who received an influx of United in Stride emails this month. Our web design team was working through some bugs on the website and testing out a new notification delivery system. In doing that the new system “grabbed” a bunch of old email and sent them out. Please note that some of these emails were previously sent out and some were not. The good news is that this has resulted in a number of runners and guides getting connected! This leads us to some exciting website updates and improvements.
Website Updates and Improvements
As mentioned above, we updated a number of plug-ins and the overall notification system should be working a lot more efficiently as of this week.

  • A reminder that you can respond to notifications directly through your email program by simply replying to the email in your inbox. Or you can log into United in Stride, select the Members tab, then chose My Profile for your messages and notifications. Please keep in mind that if you reply directly from your email account the recipient will see your personal email address and any signature.
  • Tip: email notifications come from the address and depending on your email system they may land in your inbox and/or spam/junk mail. Adding the United in Stride email into your address book will help prevent notifications from landing in your spam box.
  • SPAM: there has been a slight uptick in the creation of fake/robot accounts which has resulted in some spamming. As some of you may recall, when UIS was first launched we decided not to use the CAPTCHA verification system because most are not accessible. So we went with the email confirmation system which proved to be challenging so we removed that. We are looking into either reimplementing the email confirmation system or finding another work-around. The good news is that we have deleted all of the fake/robot accounts. 
Two New Features Added
Blue box with white type that says New Features!
Based on your feedback from the 2018 survey, we have implemented two new features to the system which will hopefully make the site more effective and efficient.

  1. When sending messages from UIS, you can now send a message to more than one person. However, much like other programs, you currently have to be connected with the person(s) you want to message and know their United in Stride username. We are looking into setting it up so you can message any registered user but we are working through some design issues for this.
  2.  Users will now receive an email notification once a month when another user creates a new profile within 20 miles of you. This will be for any runners who are blind/visually impaired and guides. Our hope is that this will keep users active and allow for more timely notifications.
Member Story:
Meet Barbara Bielinski
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!
Get Your Tether Here!
Tether with UIS logo  on a desktop
We know that running tethers come in all shapes and sizes and are often made out of existing materials including shoe strings, bungees cords, and pieces of fabric as well as using a hard tehter. We also know that there are different ways to connect a tether including holding it in your hand, wrapping it around your elbow, or clipping it onto you and your guide’s waist. We encourage you to use what ever materials and system works the best for you.

However, if you are interested in using a hand-held tether then we recommend you check out the running tether specifically designed by Stunt Puppy. This tether is about 22 inches long, has a small loop at each end for you to slide one or two fingers through, and is odor-free. Stunt Puppy in kindly offering this tether to our community for $10. Here is the link to order one

Also, contact us if you would like a free United in Stride branded Stunt Puppy tether mailed to you. Please include your mailing address and email Kyle at
Action Step:
Help Us Keep the VI/AWD Page Up-To-Date
We know that everyone is working hard to create Visually Impaired/Athletes with Disabilities Divisions for your local races. We want to keep the VI/AWD resource page up-to-date so please check out this list on the website and contact Kyle if you see a race not listed. Please try to include the race name and website
Coming Soon
We understand that there may not be any sighted guides in your area but we can help fix this situation. We are working on a tip sheet to help runners who are blb;lind/visually impaired network and recruit guides in their area. Please share any successful recruitment tips and strategies that have worked for you and we will be sure to include them on the website.

Happy running!

Support Our Team!

Make a donation and you can get an official United In Stride t-shirt A ny donation amount is welcome and goes toward the cost of hosting and maintaining the website Donations over $50 will also receive a
United In Stride T-shirt!
United in Stride was founded by the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) as a tool to unite runners who are blind or visually impaired with sighted guides across North America. Our goal is to be a resource that eases the challenge of finding sighted guides close to home, or when traveling to another part of the country for vacation or a race. We believe that a robust, interactive sighted guide database will create more opportunities for the next generation of visually impaired runners.