The blind cheering the blind

May 21, 2013

Watertown, Massachusetts

By Brian Snyder

Almost universally, when I told friends or family that I was going to cover the 67th annual Eastern Athletic Association for the Blind track and field tournament hosted at the Perkins School for the Blind, they asked some variation of “how?” Not that it couldn’t be done, but how exactly?

I had no doubt that it could be done, having covered other assignments at the Perkins School. What I found at the track meet though was a mixture of ingenuity, common sense, and some traits common to any student-athlete. Events ranged from sprints to distance races to field events such as shot put or softball throw.

Some of the student athletes were not completely blind, and could navigate a black track with bright white lane markers.

While the athletes who were completely blind had guide runners running with them for the distance races.

Often these guide runners were coaches, but in some cases they were fellow teammates and classmates who had a little more vision.

For the sprints, they held onto handles on cables that guided them down the track.

Personal bests, a marker and motivator for runners and athletes regardless of ability, were a big part of the track meet. These personal bests could be a time or distance…

…or just finishing – in the case of Hannah, who competed in the 50 and 75 yard dashes but who otherwise spends most of her life in a wheelchair.

There were kids from six different schools for the blind and visually impaired who wanted to win and loved competing.

But who also cheered on athletes from other schools.

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