For the 5th straight year, I have had the honor of guiding a visually impaired athlete competing in the California International Marathon (CIM) as part of the United States Association of Blind Athletes Marathon National Championship. This year, I had the privilege of guiding Dale Stamper, the President of the Blinded Veterans Association. As a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, teaming with someone like Dale is inspiring and a reminder of the sacrifices so many veterans have made in service to our country. Dale lost his sight after being hit by the shrapnel of a land mine while on tour as a 19 year old combat engineer in Vietnam and vowed not to let his loss of sight keep him from doing anything.
This year, the USABA brought over 30 athletes from across the United States and across the globe, including a contingent from Japan. While some athletes have goals like just being able to run outside, others are elite athletes who compete at a world class level with hopes of qualifying for the Paralympics next year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The CIM is both the largest participant and spectator athletic event annually in Sacramento, one that provides the opportunities for athletes of all levels to test their mettle, including several courageous, visually impaired athletes who show us the power or persistence and not letting anything get in the way of their goals.