Category Archives: sports

A post from the comfort of my bed

I don’t know where the day went. I slept like a log last night and yet I’ve been so tired today that I stayed on the couch with Jayden reading my book, half an ear on the Wildcats game, asking B about the rules of football.

I kept thinking about the post I’d need to write and I almost decided to throw in the towel on this year’s NaBloPoMo, but I’ve managed to post every day in November since 2008 so I decided I could post from the WordPress app while laying in bed later. It’s now later. Soon I’ll take Jayden out for the final reliving of the day, change into my nightclothes and roll over to cintune reading. So I’m cranking out a post rife with typos I can’t easily fix since I’m using my iPad. This works fiarly well for lounging in bed or the couch but man do I want a Macbook Air. A girl can dream right? I just can’t do the things I can on a Mac in iOS. I know they can be done I just haven’t learned. I should learn.

Maybe I’ll learn next week at staroid treatments since I’ll have hours to kill.

Ok, time to post and go back to zoning out. It has not been a good physical or mental day. Monday can’t come soon enough.

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Filed under Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2014, spoons, sports

How cracked.com influenced my Sunday

I never thought a Cracked article would start my day off nicely. Today the Twitter account posted:

@cracked Read “5 Inspiring Stories for Anyone Feeling Cynical Today” and try to be a bit less of a bummer for once. http://bit.ly/SWEdn2

If you’re not familiar with Cracked, trust me when I say this is not a typical post of theirs. I tend to read Cracked when I need some good belly laughs at something sarcastic and usually vulgar and very politically incorrect. So I was intrigued when I read that tweet and immediately opened the link. I actually got misty eyed reading it and instantly knew I had to share. It set the tone for the day and so far I seem to only be encountering positive and happy stuff. Such a switch! Thanks Cracked!

I knew I wanted to share that in today’s post which works out nicely since I’m still waiting to post another thing I have planned. What to add to it though? I didn’t want to just include one link. Well, animals almost always come to the rescue it seems. After I read that article I was feeling all warm and fuzzy. B was up waiting for football to start and the day felt relaxed. I got up and did something, refill coffee? When I returned, Jayden was sitting pretty on his side of the couch which made me laugh. I leaned towards him and put my arm around him. I pulled my feet up to my left and Jayden gave me kisses and then leaned into me and flopped down, pinning my upper body between his back and the couch. His shoulders and head were cradled perfectly in the ninety degree angle of my legs and belly and my head rested on his hip. Spinelli decided to get in on this and she perched on my left hip and leg. It was so warm and cozy! B snapped a pic, so I thought I’d share. It’s a link to a Twitpic since I still haven’t figured out uploading pics to WordPress. That cuddle session just added nicely to the happiness that Cracked article had awakened in my heart on this Sunday.

I decided to share the photo with my friends on Facebook. I rarely read Facebook anymore but since I was already in after sharing the pic, I decided to read through some status updates. This could have been very dangerous since Facebook seems to be the place people love to air their grievances with society. Twitter too, but I have filters in place there. Luckily I recently cleaned up Facebook and narrowed things down to only those people who don’t make a habit of complaining in every other status update. I am so incredibly glad I decided to browse through updates because I got to find out that an old friend was the first woman to cross the finish line of this year’s El Tour de Tucson! How cool is that! I knew her back before she started riding and I’m just so proud of her! I would have missed that had it not been for the picture. The picture might not have happened had the Cracked article not given me the warm fuzzies.

After B and I have what is our new Sunday tradition of delicious breakfast for lunch, I’m going to soak in the tub. This Sunday is shaping up quite nicely!

Hope I didn’t just jinx it…

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Filed under coffeeholic, fellowship, gratitude, in the news, Jayden, misty eyes, NaBloPoMo 2012, num num food, plugs, Spinelli, sports, twitter me this, wow

Twenty Cool Things About Being Blind

I was wondering what to write about today when this random idea popped into my head, so I quickly jotted down a list of things that are cool about being blind:

1. Not seeing horrible sports injuries replayed over and over and over again.

2. Laying in bed or on the couch in pretty much any comfortable way while watching TV since looking at the screen is not required.

3. Being able to control a computer from anywhere in the house with just wireless headphones and keyboard. I rarely sit in a desk chair anymore.

4. Saving a lot of money on electricity since lights are not required.

5. Always looking twenty-nine in my mind.

6. Guide dog Jayden. ‘Nuff said.

7. No more paying for car insurance, gas and repairs.

8. Audio files are so much smaller than video files.

9. Not being forced to see all the images the media wants everyone to see.

10. Not seeing pics of food.

11. Hands free snuggled up eyes closed reading.

12. Food tastes good no matter how it looks.

13. No one judges me for eating with my hands. Or if they do, I just don’t care. Because they are mean.

14. Everyone is beautiful in my head.

15. I don’t see the faces of people after tragedies.

16. I don’t see destruction and poverty, pollution, trash, bruises.

17. I no longer judge my body by how I see others’ bodies.

18. My baseball games are never ever blacked out since all I need is radio.

19. I’ve never had to see skinny jeans.

20. Being able to do the morning ritual without opening sleepy eyes.

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Filed under baseball, blind opinion, humor as coping skill, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2012, sports

Demo: The Awesome ootunes radio app

I am in love with this app! I had planned on blogging about it and decided it needed a demo so now there’s going to be both. I found ootunes thanks to this AppleVis post about it. I explain in the demo why it appealed to me after I read that link. There’s all the information you need about the app there, the ootunes website, App Store link etc. It has the support email address which I used the other day. I talk about that in the demo as well.

There are some things I didn’t mention in the demo or that I want to elaborate on that I noticed when I listened to it:

*I forgot to mention that I favorited all the local sports stations so I might actually get into Arizona sports! I’m excited about this since I used to be a pretty dedicated Wildcats fan in my youth. Baseball has spoiled me now and the only way to listen to sports is with radio. I can do online radio broadcast of college sports but then I can’t really multitask well since I can rarely control the volume on those feeds. So now I’ll have radio feeds on my phone and can just use my bluetooth! I’m very excited.

*I failed to mention how accessible this app is though I’m sure you can tell on the demo. The developer has made a point of making things accessible and this is even mentioned on their app description. This is very cool since I rarely notice that. It seems most apps don’t want to mention that dirty little secret of Voiceover. I’m sure that’s not how those developers see it but I kinda do, and I find it very cool that ootunes advertises Voiceover accessibility.

*I should mention that I have experienced app crashes, but that mostly seemed to happen the night I was doing a lot of favorites adding and starting and stopping. It doesn’t seem to happen during regular usage. Also sometimes the feeds dip out for about twenty or thirty seconds but they almost always come back. That’s just the nature of wireless I think. That always happened with my baseball games until I went hardwired.

*The favoriting part of the demo was confusing, but that’s because I think the favorites feature is a bit confusing. It would be nice if you could add to a favorites group from the get go, but you have to add the favorite and then add to the group. I’m not complaining, I love this app too much. I think I’m going to suggest that to the developer though.

So, if you’ve got thirty-five minutes, come join me as I stumble around this app a bit since I’m still novice, listen as I experience my first “worldly” station, laugh along with some comedy, walk with me down memory lane while I reminisce about cassette tapes and other random ramblings.

ootunes demo

(The file didn’t want to play for me at first so I just opened it again. I think Dropbox might have changed some things.)

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Filed under accessibility, cool product, demo, iPhone, music, plugs, sports, twitter me this, Voiceover

This that and other stuff

It’s cold out and I’m leaning back on an ice pack. I don’t remember when it was, at least a year ago, that I pulled something in my back while making the bed. I think I was still having O & M lessons with Dave because I remember him telling me that sort of injury takes awhile to heal and is easy to injure again. I don’t even think I did anything specific to it this time. I don’t remember feeling that pop like I did the day I tucked the sheet and cried out in pain. This has been a gradual thing since yesterday morning. Luckily I remembered that ice was the best thing for it the first time, so I’m doing that again. I also see my massage therapist on Thursday and I can hear him now.

“Why aren’t you stretching those hammies? Didn’t I tell you to keep stretching those hammies to prevent back injuries? Didn’t I? Huh? Huh? Huh?”

Ok, he probably won’t sound like that, but he will scold me. He’s not your typical fluff and buff massage therapist. He’s more like, a muscle health drill sergeant. Yeah, that’s pretty accurate. I guarantee he will scold me about my hammies. I get in and out of the habit of stretching them daily. It’s hard to remember to stretch on days I don’t work my legs. My bad.

In other pain related news, today was probably the best I’ve felt in a long time, despite the back pain. I took the new med last night and within an hour I felt the nerve pain begin to melt away! I could actually move without staggering this morning and when I checked the weather at about ten I was shocked to find the humidity at 90%. I didn’t feel it!

Unfortunately I started to feel the waves of tension along my nerves early this afternoon while I was waiting for Carol and Georgie to come for a shopping trip. My doc wants me to take the meds at night since they may cause drowsiness, but after the holidays I’m going to experiment with taking them in the morning. If I can do that and function, they’ll work great. It doesn’t make much sense if my pain is gone while I’m sleeping and not the whole time I’m awake.

I didn’t have much energy for shopping today since we went in the afternoon, but it was still a success. I fit into a pair of designer jeans; my first ever expensive pair. I got to meet Georgie’s daughters for the first time and I told them I needed to know their voices. I called one by name and asked her to talk. She did. Then the other one. She sounded like the first. I could not tell them apart and they aren’t twins. They are super close though, and we had fun. They took off and did their own thing while the adults shopped so I didn’t get much time with them, but they were delightful kids.

I can’t hear that Christmas song, “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” now without thinking about my doc. She is the coolest doc I’ve ever known. She’s the kind of woman I’d like to go shopping with. She cracked the funniest joke during my exam on Monday but unfortunately I don’t want to write it in public. Every time I hear that song on a commercial now, I laugh inside.

I’m working on another sestina. The other one I wrote was so bad since I was just trying to get a feel for it. Today I discovered that it is supposed to be written in iambic pentameter. Wow does that make it more difficult. I love the challenge, though.

There’s a college football game being played at the Trop. It’s wrong to hear the official’s whistle and no cowbell. I miss baseball so much!

Jayden did well today but I need to remember when I go shopping to use the GL from the get go. He is so people distracted. It was easy to fix the dog distraction problem because there’s never one hundred dogs in a place but at the mall, there’s no avoiding people and the distraction is so brief it’s hard to catch and fix it with a time out or obedience. The GL fixes the problem. I’m so grateful that my GDB instructor pounded into my head to never leave home without it.

Yesterday Jayden kept me from what could have been a really bad fall. The paratransit driver pulled up next to the curb instead of the ramp for some reason when he picked me up from the Doc. I had no idea and Jayden absolutely refused to get on the van. I probed out and discovered about a six inch gap between the curb and the van steps. I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if Jayden hadn’t alerted me to something I needed to be aware of before boarding. Isn’t intelligent disobedience cool???

Jay is curled up with me on the couch as I lean back on my ice. I can’t wait to go to bed soon and begin reading “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles. It was a book I had to read in high school and loved and I found it on Audible, blissfully unabridged. T minus thirty minutes.

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Filed under Audio books, baseball, fellowship, GDB, intelligent disobedience, Jayden, random stuff, spoons, sports, treat for me, working dog, writing

#NaBloPoMo – Are you a Florida girl?

As I was working up a sweat and getting my heart pumping on the treadmill Wednesday at the gym, one of the employees was talking to G about the Arizona Wildcats basketball game the previous night. I was mostly tuning out the conversation, just happy to be back in the gym since I had almost lost it.

I grew up with the Wildcats and clearly remember the night they won it all in ’97 but that was during the Lute Olson era, and ever since he left, it’s just not the same for me. I vividly remember when I got his autograph. I was in my early teens and we had gone to the Red/Blue scrimmage game. Afterwards, we went down into the tunnels and I got to meet him. I held out my folded paper and said, “can I have your autograph? You’re my favorite coach.” When I tell that story, I always voice that part with a timid, child-like drawl. I felt so foolish after the words had left my mouth but he signed it happily. I can still imagine the looping signature.

So, my ears perk up whenever the University of Arizona is mentioned in any capacity. As I trudged along on the treadmill, listening to the classic rock on the stereo, the employee said, “what about you, did you watch the game?”

“Nah, I had the hockey game on,” I replied.

“Oh hockey, you’re hardcore!” he said, and I could hear the grin in his voice. I don’t think the last word was actually hardcore, but it was something along those lines. I didn’t have time to mention I’m a rookie fan, this being my first year following hockey. “Who’s your team?”

Here it comes I thought. I’ll say the Tampa Bay Lightning and he’ll ask why Tampa Bay. Before he had a chance though, G launched in with how fanatic I am about the Tampa Bay Rays, how I’d have the radio broadcast on my iPhone while working out, etc. Men always talk about my sports fandom as though they’re talking about their kid’s amazing accomplishment.

“Are you a florida girl?” the man asked.

No one had ever asked me the “why” question in that way before. I’ve had people ask me if I’m from Florida, which I guess is basically the same question but the way he asked it almost made me want to answer that yes, yes I am a Florida girl.

The urge to say yes caught me off guard and I quickly blurted the story of how the Rays captured my heart in ’08 when I went blind and it just feels natural to follow the Lightning now that I want to get into hockey since a lot of my friends on Twitter follow them. He quickly latched on to the blind thing, since his daughter has been blind since birth and he has taught at the blind school. Conversation moved away from sports and on to adjusting to blindness and attitude, accomplishing anything you want and on and on for a bit. I really wanted to get back to sports.

I’ve been reflecting on the gut feeling to say that I am a Florida girl. Those words are rather open ended when you think about it. If someone asks if I’m from Florida, the answer is obviously no, I’ve never even been there. But, are you a Florida girl? Are you a baseball girl? Are you a country music girl? Are you a science fiction girl? How about a Mac girl?

Isn’t labeling yourself as {insert something you like here} girl or guy saying you are a fan of said thing? So perhaps I’m a fan of Florida. It could work. I absolutely adore the Rays and they’re a Florida team. As a result of them, I’ve met the most amazing people, mostly in Florida. One in Boston, but you get my meaning. In fact I have an entire post planned about the incredible people in my life today because of the Rays.

So am I a Florida girl? In a way, yes. Will I ever move there? Doubtful, the humidity would kill me. If I ever get rich however, you bet your bum I’ll be going there at the beginning and end of the baseball seasons when it’s not summer.

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Filed under baseball, fellowship, NaBloPoMo 2011, sports, twitter me this, workouts

A hockey version of Who’s on First in my house tonight

A hockey game is on and they are tied at one in overtime and B was talking about how there’s nothing better than playoff hockey and I asked who’s playing.

The Montreal Canadians.

The Montreal what?

Canadians.

I know, but what?

The Montreal Canadians.

Oh they are called the Montreal Canadians?

Yeah, thought we were gonna have a who’s on first thing going on here.

Maniacal laughter ensued on my part. My stomach hurts I was laughing so hard.

For those unfamiliar with the Who’s on First reference, here ya go.

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Filed under funnies, random stuff, sports, youtube

Doggy Diaries – Year ago recap 34 – Great walks and some fine tuning

Ah, last year was a good day and so was today. Last year we did our first walk with Dave, which I was so looking forward to, in the old historic neighborhood where I did the brunt of my cane training. During the walk, the Thunderbirds flew overhead and I got totally excited. I had forgotten all about that until looking back on that post. Awesome. I was amazed at how much walking we had done and shocked when Dave told me it had been an hour. I had forgotten just how much faster it is with a dog. I experienced that again today because I used my cane to take the trash out, which I’ll explain in a minute.

Today has been good. My energy levels are staying pretty steady, *knock on wood*. No really, knock on it. There was a baseball game on this morning and as it was wrapping up I did some tidying around the apartment. B was watching a basketball game and then we ordered breakfast from The Good Egg. Yummmm….

Jay and I checked the mail and I’ve been working on that lately. It’s amazing how you can go lax on things without even realizing it. The mail has always been my landmark, so I’ve always made sure Jayden will do anything to get me there. He always gets a kibble or two there and since I could always tell we were there by sound and shade, I kind of got lax in his positioning. He had started to curl around expecting kibble. I hadn’t even noticed it for awhile because I’m intent on getting the mail or lining up to continue on. When we first learned the route, I had him take me straight to the boxes but he had kind of stopped doing that too.

So I’ve been working on it when we go now, telling him to show me and making him take me to the boxes, then making him heel before he gets kibble. Today he walked me straight to the boxes and stayed in heel position. Good boy!

After breakfast we set out for a walk and once again, he targeted the boxes just the way I want. Awesome. Today we just flew down the path, I mean just flew. Jayden really knows when I’m good to go and he just flies. I absolutely love it! It was funny walking by all the apartments. The weather was gorgeous, so everyone had just their screen doors closed and you could hear March Madness all the way down the path hahaha!

Jayden targeted the office and then the door to the gym and even though we weren’t going to either, I paused and made it a destination. Don’t want him getting bored of our route because it’s just damn perfect.

When we got home, I decided to take the trash out with my cane since B was home. A few times now, Jayden has taken me to the neighbor’s after I drop the trash. It happens so subtly, I don’t even notice it until it’s too late. I don’t want that to become habit. So he’s lost his trash privilege for now. I might pattern it this week again, just to reinforce the way he needs to go.

When I got the trash, Jay came running. Work? Sorry bud, you’re staying home. And I left. Ugh the stick. So cumbersome. And someone had left a comforter or something in front of the dumpster, so when my cane encountered it, I couldn’t figure out what the heck happened. I thrust out with my cane and wacked the dumpster so at least I knew I was where I needed to be, then had to step on the stupid comforter to drop the trash.

As I walked towards my door, I heard Jayden’s nails on the door plate, just like he does when someone comes over. He got all excited haha. Dude, I was gone two minutes. When I came in B said Jayden hadn’t left the door. He hadn’t been agitated or anything though, so that’s good. He just gave me a sweet homecoming, doing his doggy stretch and licking my face and even let out an exasperated whine like, what the heck? Haha! I went to the computer and he nestled in between my chair and the couch. I really need to leave him more often. I know we’re supposed to do that. It just sucks going out without him. Looks like he does ok, but I’ll have to do it longer next time.

So that was our eighteenth of March last year and this year. Both good days, for sure.

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Filed under Doggy Diaries, Jayden, on this date, sports, weather, working dog

Doggy Diaries – He’s in love

Jayden has a new best friend. I have been replaced. Yep. I should just turn over the harness. 😉

Wednesday night, B’s dad arrived from West Virginia. B’s birthday is today, so his dad came out for the occasion. He stopped by on his way to the hotel from the airport at around 9pm or so Wednesday night. I have never seen Jayden go so absolutely nuts!

Usually he gets excited when people come over but pretty quickly he goes back to his calm self. Not with B’s dad. Jayden was just sniffing and wagging and wiggling and getting all excited. He gave B’s dad tons of kisses. When he left that night, Jayden stood by the door as if to say, where’d he go? Can’t we keep him?

Yesterday morning when B’s dad, you know I’m just gonna call him dad, came back, Jayden went nuts all over again. Oh I forgot to mention that the night before I had put Jayden on leash for a little bit until he calmed down some. Yesterday morning I didn’t, after dad had made it clear he didn’t mind. So Jayden greeted him enthusiastically again and I just kept marvelling at how much he loves dad already.

We hung around for a bit and then loaded into dad’s rental car, a nice bright red Impala. I like those cars, lots of rom. We went to Saavi so dad could see the place I write about so much.

It was fun to walk around there and say hi to people and be in clothes that aren’t gym clothes haha! I showed dad the gym where I spend so much time and then walked around the rest of the place. It was cool to work Jayden and show dad how it all works in a place I know so well. Jayden seemed a little confused that he wasn’t getting on his exercise mat haha!

After we left Saavi, we went to B’s office which was really cool because I had never been there. Just after I lost my sight, his office moved to a new location and I haven’t been able to picture it. I got to sit in his chair and feel around his desk to get a good mental image of the place.

Jayden did pretty well during all the touring, but I have got to work on his love for people. He wants to say hi to everyone. I know part of it is that they say hi to him first because it seems no one knows any better, but Jayden just can’t seem to avoid temptation. He doesn’t do it a whole lot at Saavi, because most people there are well trained when it comes to guide dogs. So, after getting a really good show of it at B’s office, I know I’m gonna have to do some work on that.

After that we came back home and the cable and internet were down. Uh oh. Not good. Call cable company. Silicone Sally says, “We recognize your address of {insert address here} is part of a service outage. We are working on the problem. Would you like a call from out automated system when the problem is corrected?” I select yes. They never give you an ETA in those recorded messages. They didn’t seem to understand that we needed the cable back by 4:30. The West Virginia football game was on then. Dad said we could use the tv at the hotel as a plan B. I showed him my computer so he could see how I do all the stuff online. Even though we couldn’t access the internet, I’d had a few webpages up that he could see and I wrote out some stuff so he could hear it. and he left to get a nap.

B played his video game and I made some popcorn and listened to a movie. It’s amazing how unconnected you feel when the internet is down. Wow. It’s such habit to check email and FB and Twitter and blogs.

I went to clean out my email because it’s just gotten insane and I’m finding that I’m missing emails, meaning I get them but amid the clutter, I’m not reading them. I never got around to cleaning it out though because suddenly emails were pouring in. The net was back, baby!

I got the automated call from the cable company about forty five minutes later. Thanks, Sally, I know it’s back.

Dad came back about 4pm much to Jayden’s delight. At halftime they went and got burgers from 5 Guys Burgers and Fries. Yummmm.

After the game we sat around for a bit and talked. Jayden mostly stayed by dad. I had to beg him to curl up with me on our couch. That brat. 😉

After dad left for the night, Jayden and I went to bed. Jayden was one tired boy after all the work that morning and the excitement over dad.

I just heard a car door and thought he might be here and so did Jayden, who tore to the door. He should be here any time now. It’s sooo nice having him here. I wish it would be for longer, but he leaves Sunday morning.

Not sure what we’ll do today. It’s B’s birthday. Happy birthday my love! I got him a new desk chair, which I’ll have to write about in more detail in another post. The funny thing was, when I sat in his chair at work, I noticed that the new chair is pretty much identical to his work chair haha! He was so surprised and happy about his new chair for home, though. I gave it to him Tuesday rather than make him wait until today. Really, there wasn’t a way to hide it haha! Carol helped a great deal with getting that chair, so I’ll write a post about it soon.

Tonight we’re going to the Melting Pot for B’s birthday dinner. Yummmm.

Alrighty, there was a large gap in there since dad got here right as I finished writing about the Melting Pot. We went and did some shopping. Jayden got some new toys and the cats got some things. We checked out the cat houses, but we’re not sure we’re gonna get one yet. Jayden got a back up Kong, a Kong Wubba, a Kong Wobbler and a two sided Kong tug toy. Finally, some new toys. I don’t think that Wubba is gonna last long, though. The top part already has some fraying. Geez.

It was loads of fun when he was figuring out the Wobbler, though. We had a good time just sitting on the floor with him while he worked on it.

B and dad just stepped back out to do more shopping and I stayed home. I’m exhausted. I thought about making some phone calls but I’m too tired. Just finishing up this post. Oh yeah, there was another dog in one of the stores. That wasn’t fun. Blech. It wasn’t the pet store. It was an electronic store. I’m not even gonna write about it.

Anyway wow, I started off this post all jovial and now I’m just tired haha!

Oh PS – Jayden did great with all the shopping. 🙂

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Filed under birthday, Doggy Diaries, dogs, family, Jayden, num num food, Silicone Sally, sports, working dog

ACB – Reflections from the Mission Vision Sports Festival

It’s incredible what they are doing for the blinded service men and women who have fought for our country! I thought this was awesome! I can never say enough about how athletics have improved my life. This article speaks to how I feel about it all.

***

Blinded Veterans Re-learn Competition
By David F. Cline
 
The questions sound typical of most athletes.
 
“What’s your best time on the bike?” “How much can you bench press?” “Have you tried the discus, or do you only compete in shot put?”
 
It is the next round of questions that jolt the listener.
 
“Was it a mortar attack or an IED?” “How long were you in theater before you were hit?” “Do you prefer having a guide dog or a cane?”
 
At the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) Sports Festival & Mission Vision Program, wounded service members received workout tips, sport-specific training, and the opportunity to do something many thought impossible when they were injured: Compete.

 
Held in Colorado Springs, the Mission Vision Program was developed to promote physical activity as a main element of rehabilitation and recovery. Staff members from Veterans Affairs Blind Rehabilitation Centers across the country, as well as former Paralympians and collegiate coaches, offered their skills and assistance to work with the athletes. Training was available in swimming, running, track and field events, tandem cycling, and weight lifting and conditioning.
 
“One thing I do is get them acclimated to where they are, and help them get comfortable enough to move around on their own,” said strength and conditioning coach Mark Sampson (Woodland Park, CO). “Sometimes they are reluctant to get involved, so I try to get them to do one lift, or do 10 minutes on the treadmill. Once they do that, most of them realize they can do this, and they will come back for more.”
 
One of Sampson’s assistants is Cody Colchado (Linn, TX), a 19-time world champion power lifter, a three-time national champion in the pentathlon, and a national champion in CTF Tae Kwan Do Brick & Board events.
 

Colchado has been blind for 30 years, and is also legally deaf. He credits Sampson, and his coaches through the years, as reasons for his success, and said the same techniques used to spur him into competing are the same ones he now uses with newcomers to his gym.

“You have to gain their confidence, and let them know they can have confidence in you,” said Colchado. “It’s easier with some more than others, but steady encouragement goes a long way.”
 
 Joe Crespo (Fairless Hills, PA) knows about confidence. As a Marine serving in Vietnam, Crespo suffered head, neck and chest injuries from a mortar attack. He awoke from a three-month coma to a diagnosis of blindness; in addition, he was suffering from amnesia.
 
Once very involved in running and other activities, Crespo saw his participation seriously hindered because of his wounds. Over the years he has worked his way back into physical activity, and the Veterans Administration rehabilitation coordinator he works with in Philadelphia recently introduced him to a long-distance runner. Using the Guide Running technique, in which a sighted runner and a blind runner hold opposite ends of a two-foot long tether, Crespo can now run on tracks, paths, and perhaps long-distance courses such as hills and dirt tracks.
 
“I have learned to adapt and with intensive and ongoing training I’m doing quite well,” Crespo said. “Mission Vision has opened up a whole new world for me, as I will now be involved in a local running program.”
 
Many service members and Veterans are former athletes, and those wounded in battle face a multitude of adjustment issues: recovery, rehabilitation, inability to play sports, and a lack of competition. Mission Vision was created in part to address those issues by fueling their competitive fire.

 
Rich Cardillo (Monument, CO), USABA’s Military Sports Program Coordinator, said disabled veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces who are blind or visually impaired who simply want to enhance their lives and to accelerate their rehabilitation through sport, recreation and physical activity will have the full support of USABA. The organization has paid for veterans, their guides and their coaches at numerous programs around the United States; to include, several learn to race cycling camps, the 2008 State Games of the West, the 2009 State Games of America, the 2009 California International Marathon, the 2010 USABA Winter Sports Program and the 2010 Rocky Mountain State Games.
 
“Our mission is to increase the number and quality of world-class athletic opportunities available to all Americans who are blind or visually impaired, from the grassroots to a competitive, elite level and Operation Mission Vision is just one of several programs we have to offer,” Cardillo said. “The strategic goal of any of our programs is simply to bring normalcy back into the lives of those disabled Veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces who are blind or visually impaired and to accelerate their rehabilitation process through sport, recreation and physical activity.”
 
Army veteran DeDe Fox-Birdwell (Centennial, CO) has known athletic competition most of her life. In the early 1990s, she was selected as female athlete of the year at her post in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. She competed in horseshoes, softball, volleyball, power lifting, and 10k runs, and was the first woman to participate in the 5k combat cross country run, in which a service member runs the distance while outfitted in full uniform with a utility belt and canteen of water.
 
Then came her vision loss.
 
Diagnosed with a disorder that sends clots to the blood vessels in her eyes, Fox-Birdwell lost her peripheral vision in both eyes and was medically retired in 1997. Since then, she has been working out in a home gym and paying attention to the athletic exploits of her children.
 
“There are no team sports now. I had to move away from them because of my eyes – until I found Goalball!” Fox-Birdwell exclaimed.
 
For the uninitiated, Goalball is a sport created specifically for the blind and visually-impaired. Competitors, three per team, wear goggles that have been completely blacked out, leaving everyone on the court with the same level of awareness. A rubber ball with nine small bells inside is rolled back and forth; the object of the game, as the name implies, is to get the ball past the defenders and into the goal.
 
While it may sound simple, there are strategies, including rolling the ball quietly so the opposing team cannot hear the bells. Crespo played the game for the first time at Mission Vision, and plans to introduce it to the blind children he works with in Philadelphia.
 
As for Fox-Birdwell, she found energy and re-discovered the joy of playing a team sport. “I will be contacting anyone and everyone I can to hopefully participate in Goalball and power lifting, and I live close enough to try out for the Goalball team,” she said.
 
Here, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and just miles from the U.S. Olympic Training Center, Joe, DeDe, and the others are not just visually-impaired, they are not just wounded warriors, and they are not just Veterans… they are athletes.
 
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David F. Cline is a Senior Communications Specialist with General Dynamics Information Technology, and works in support of  the Vision Center of Excellence (VCE). GDIT was a co-sponsor of the Mission Vision Program.

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Filed under ACB, Adjustment to blindness, goalball, gratitude, sports