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Friday, April 21, 2017

National Federation of the Blind of Colorado Front & Center for National Fitness Challenge!

More than 35 blind runners will run in this Sunday’s Cherry Creek Sneak, and more than half of those will be members of the NFB of Colorado, including students from the Colorado Center for the Blind - nine of whom will be blind Seniors.

In a state where overall activity and fitness levels are among the highest in the nation, and obesity levels among the lowest, it’s no surprise that blind Coloradans are hungry to get involved with mainstream fitness events like Lucky Laces and the Cherry Creek Sneak.

“We just need to create the opportunities,” says WE Fit Wellness Director Jessica Beecham, who has helped recruit many of the blind participants.

“We are thrilled that over half of the 36 blind and low vision athletes will be first-time Cherry Creek Sneak participants,” she said. “Barriers like inaccessible exercise equipment, undescribed exercise videos, and group fitness instructors who are not trained to work with people who are blind are still very real challenges. We are proud to be part of programs like the National Fitness Challenge that help people who are blind and low vision find new ways to lead healthy lifestyles!”

Blind participants are paired with sighted guides from groups such as Lending Sight and three Colorado chapters of Achilles International.

For many of those blind participants, Sunday’s race is the second in a series of four runs which began with March 17’s Lucky Laces and will end on July 1 in Colorado Springs with Get Me Some Color. The Cherry Creek Sneak and the Bolder-Boulder on May 29 fall in the middle.

At least two blind paralympic athletes ran in March and will be in Sunday’s race. But there are plenty of civilians like NFB member Pipi Adams. She completed her first-ever 10k running in the Lucky Laces, and she’s set to do a 5-mile in the Sneak.

CCB Braille Instructor Carina Orozco signed up for the March race the day before when another runner had to drop out.

“It was spur of the moment,” she said, confessing that she hadn’t been training. “It was hard, but it helped me get going on my fitness resolutions.” She’s also running on Sunday.

Both women crowed about their achievements on Face Book later that day. Others did their very first race ever or bested their previous times. And three CCB Seniors, Phyllis and two Ralphs participated in that first race and will be back again on Sunday.

In Colorado, WE Fit Wellness joined up with Achilles chapters in Denver, Colorado Springs and Boulder, as well as Lending Sight, to create motivation and push the challenge even further. That’s how they arrived at the idea of the 4-race challenge.

“The race series provides motivation for our (NFC) participants to keep their step count high throughout the program in order to train for 5k and 10k distance races,” says Beecham.

It’s all part of the National Fitness Challenge (NFC), a partnership between the US Association of Blind Athletes and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, who have partnered with 13 other groups across the US, notably WE Fit Wellness in Colorado. An Anthem grant means that participants can receive a Fitbit Flex 2 wearable to track and share their daily physical activity.

The NFC started in 2011, but the overall goal remains the same every year, to raise the physical activity levels of each participant to the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - 30 minutes of moderate physical activity and 10,000 steps per day.