Sunday morning, June 5th found the WE Team participating in our 3rd 6 Dot Dash. The race/walk event stages in front of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute at 200 Wells Street, at Jernigan Place in Baltimore, overlooking the harbor. The skies were overcast and there was a slight breeze as more than 160 folks began the 6k course, which took us through “The Streets of Baltimore” (sounds like a song by the late great Gram Parsons), through the promenade and back to the Institute. My guide, Brandon Stapanowich, could look out over the bay to describe the sailboats getting under way. This 6k is branded to represent the 6 dots which make up a cell within the Braille reading code for the blind. The race is held in early June each year to raise funds and highlight the need for Braille education. Many blind kiddos, almost 90% of them, are, tragically, not now receiving regular Braille instruction. At WE Fit Wellness™, we are all about total well-being. It seems to me that this should include literacy. I use Braille every day in my professional and leisure activities. I am drafting this blog in Braille.
When one makes a conscious choice to, “find your fit™”, it’s important to find activities you enjoy. It is important to begin making the little choices about the food we eat, to share our victories with others, and to build a support community. I have chosen Achilles International Pikes Peak to be a part of my support network. I joined the National Federation of the Blind more than 35 years ago. Much like the National Federation of the Blind, which is a social action and mutual support community, Achilles offers me role models, mentors, social engagement, and wonderful friends and colleagues. Achilles also brings me knowledge about exercise, movement, and racing. It offers cheerleading, coaching, and an inviting place where like-minded people can gather to challeange and be challenged by buddies of all athletic abilities. We think that’s a pretty good space in which the WE Fit Wellness™ team can play. Taking part in the 6 Dot Dash allows me to combine two of my passions. They are: fitness, and the empowering philosophy and goals of the National Federation of the Blind.
This year was particularly rewarding for the WE Team. The aforementioned Brandon Stapanowich is the co-founder of Achilles International of the Pikes Peak. He has been one of my coaches and guides over the past couple of years. Brandon was kind enough to travel to Baltimore with the WE Team of Jessica Beecham and me, as I attempted to run a personal best time. Trying one’s best for personal improvement. That’s really what it means to find your fit. To reach your own best state of wellness. Brandon visited our National Federation of the Blind headquarters. He traversed the vast labyrinth of the complex with us over the weekend, and, oh by the way, most of the hall lights were off. After all, it was the weekend. Brandon did pretty well, and we were happy to guide him. I was very proud to introduce Brandon to the true thought leaders in work with and for people who are blind and visually impaired. We enjoyed time with the President of the National Federation of the Blind, Mark A. Riccobono. We had a fabulous, nutritious birthday celebration dinner with the immediate past president of the National Federation of the Blind, Marc Maurer, and the Executive Director of the NFB Jernigan Institute, Anil Lewis. They both had birthdays that weekend.
After the race, we were thrilled to meet a number of people in the crowd who listen to our Find Your Fit™ podcasts. When we talk about building a community around exercise, sport, recreation, nutrition and well-being, that’s what we mean. It is about bringing organizations and people together to create greater opportunity for people of all abilities to live active, full, rewarding lives. I think Achilles and the National Federation of the Blind provide a human infrastructure which allows many to, “live the life you want,” as proclaimed by the National Federation of the Blind tagline.
We hope that communities which do not now have an Achilles International affiliate, or a local NFB chapter will get in touch with us. We will be happy to provide guidance and encouragement.
Check out the first newsletter from Achilles International Pikes Peak, and learn more about the National Federation of the Blind. By the way, I did take 6 minutes off of last year’s 6 Dot Dash time. It was a personal record, a PR, feelin’ good finding my fit!