The Vision 5K Run and Walk – One of the Most Unique and Inspirational Sporting Events in Boston's History

Yes, they are moving to the beautiful campus of Boston College for the eighth annual Vision 5K. This unique race brings together a community of support that not only raises awareness for, but also provides critical funds for innovative programs and services that enhance the quality of life for thousands of children and adults who are blind or visually impaired. Race proceeds benefit an outstanding partnership of four organizations that serve the blind and visually impaired. A Kids’ Fun Run, local celebrities and food court add to the enjoyment of this memorable experience.

This race is for everyone, and here is a new incentive to register right now: All those who register by April 30 will be eligible for a drawing to win a pair of Red Sox tickets--prime seats in the infield grandstand for August 27 against the Chicago White Sox. Get in on this raffle right away.

Runners and walkers who have participated in past years wholeheartedly agree that this event is both personally moving and inspirational. It is difficult not to come away with a sense of awe for the spirit and determination that is so clearly demonstrated by these amazing blind and visually impaired athletes.

One of the unique features of this event is that it offers ALL runners options to test their limits and challenge themselves. You can choose to run as a guide for a blind runner, take the blindfold challenge, or simply run your own race over a terrific new course. Whatever the choice, it will be both a positive and rewarding experience. Of course, you don’t have to run as a guide or blindfolded to be part of this event. Test your own limits; go for a personal best. The strength of your participation in this event alone works wonders to raise awareness about, and build solidarity with, the blind and visually impaired community. Use this opportunity to transform the world’s view of disabled athletes. The power in that is unmistakable. Your participation will encourage many others—visually impaired folks who want to run, and those who are trying simply to get themselves off the couch.

USABA Championship
All blind and visually impaired athletes are invited to compete in the 2009 Vision 5K for the U.S. National Championship for the US Association of Blind Athletes. Prize money will be awarded to the top five visually impaired men and women. It is rare for prize money to be designated for visually impaired athletes. In fact, it is rare for a race to specify a visually impaired division on the registration form any where in the world. The Vision 5K knows that visually impaired athletes want to compete and achieve their goals just as much as their sighted counterparts, and that they should have opportunities to earn prize money.

The 2008 Visually impaired division purse totaled $7,600 split evenly between the top five visually impaired women, and the top five visually impaired men. It will be similar this year. The Visually Impaired Division is sponsored by the Carroll Center for the Blind, MAB Community Services, National Braille Press, and the Perkins School for the Blind.

Guides who run with an athlete who places in the top five will be awarded an honorarium for their efforts.

Last year, Boston’s Jacob Lehrhoff, 23, won the men’s race in 16:09 with second place going to Cambridge’s Patricio Ramierez, 31, in 16:14. The National Championship winner for the visually impaired sped to third place overall in the person of Moises Beristain of Mexico. Beristain was not only the first visually impaired runner, but at age 45 was also the top Master, laying down a 5:15 pace. The second visually impaired runner was Kurt Feine, 46, of Elmhurst, Illinois.

The top women’s visually impaired division award went to Cheryl Hewitt, 36, of Cambridge. Massachusetts, who finished in 25:06. The overall women’s title went to Kim Nolan, 26, of nearby Watertown Massachusetts. Amy Pace, 33, of Brookline, Massachusetts ran second in 19:44, followed by Master Carol Chaotic, 44, of Wellesley MA in 20:57.

This will be the event’s third year being organized by DMSE Sports, headed by Dave McGillivray, who also directs the Boston Marathon. You can depend on DMSE for outstanding race logistics.

Blindfold Challenge

Consider taking the blindfold challenge: You simply put on a blindfold, team up with a sighted guide runner, and run without the benefit of your sight. It is not for the faint of heart. You have to be willing to leave fear at the start line. No doubt you will find the benefits to be worthwhile and invaluable. Covering your eyes will uncover a whole new understanding of what those with a vision impairment already know; that being blind won’t hold you back from achieving your goals. In the process, you will uncover your own hidden strengths as you explore new territory, expanding your senses and your sensibilities--not just on the road, but within yourself.

Guide runners are needed to run with the visually impaired and with blindfolded runners. The guide is responsible for communicating information about the course, up coming terrain, intersections, and turns; and they guide the runner away from obstacles such as curbs, signs, other runners, and uneven footing. The guide and the visually impaired athlete usually use a tether that is held firmly in the fingers or tied around the wrists. This allows freedom of movement for both while keeping them in close proximity. You can be the ultimate volunteer by helping another runner achieve his or her goals. It is a worthwhile and meaningful commitment with lasting rewards. Runners and walkers who participate in the blindfold challenge must attend a training session. For more information contact Kimberly Ballard at

Volunteers are also needed before, during and after the race to help set up, register participants, monitor the course, and serve water and refreshments. Help make this race enormously successful by being part of the Vision 5K Volunteer Team.

CEO Challenge
The Vision 5K invites corporate leaders to join in the CEO Challenge to put their abilities to the test and to showcase what their companies are capable of. Show the colors, and build morale for employees—this is the ultimate team-building exercise. What a great way for companies to get involved in the community and raise funds for a great cause. It is sure to be a memorable and thrilling challenge unlike any other.

New Boston College Course
This year, the Vision 5K Run and Walk will receive a warm welcome from Boston College in Chestnut Hill as its new venue. The village of Chestnut Hill is actually located in Newton, Massachusetts, and was developed in part by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. Your course tour will show how its beauty, grace and charm are still evident today.

Registration and packet pickup will be at the famed Gassen Hall (the beautiful eagle statue and stunning Gothic towers). And the start will be in front of Gassen.

The Boston College campus, with the entrance located at 140 Commonwealth Avenue, boasts one of the earliest examples of Collegiate Gothic architecture. It is set on a hilltop just five miles west of downtown Boston (right on the B.A.A. Boston Marathon course) and it is the ideal location for this race. The loop course is sure to be a crowd pleaser, especially in early June with its lovely tree-lined streets, blooming flowers and outstanding campus buildings. In addition, it is accessible to plenty of free parking as well as to the T Green Line and other facilities.

Four Remarkable Organizations
The Vision 5K is organized by a remarkable partnership of four organizations that serve the blind. They are the Carroll Center for the Blind, MAB Community Services, National Braille Press, and the Perkins School for the Blind. Your participation as a runner or walker shows your support of their vital mission to give the blind and visually impaired the power to transform their own lives and the tools to make it happen.

The Vision 5K welcomes your support if you choose to raise funds to aid one or all of the organizing charities. You may raise funds individually or ask family and friends to join you as part of a team. Learn more about fundraising when you register. For more information send an e-mail to

The Finish Line
The Vision 5K doesn’t end at the finish line! Stick around for a fabulous post race celebration featuring an amazing array of sumptuous food from local vendors and restaurants. The post race will be near the Bapts building and its wide lawn. You won’t know where to start sampling everything they are serving up but you will have a ton of fun. What a great way for the whole family to enjoy a fantastic Sunday in June in a wonderful location.

Don’t miss this unique running event filled with stories of challenge and of overcoming adversity, of pushing the limits and gaining new perspectives. Stories of camaraderie, cooperation and good times come together to make the vision for tomorrow brighter.

Register now at The first 1,000 registrants will receive a free t-shirt. And don't forget that chance to win Red Sox tickets if you sign up by April 30th. Everyone will gain a unique running experience.

For more information or to register online, visit the Vision 5K Event Website.

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