Missoula, MT, November 13, 2008 --(PR.com
)-- Running a 26.2 mile marathon is grueling enough, but imagine running it in a fog. Not so much thick as the clichéd split pea soup as more like an unclarified broth or chicken stock. Consider running in a world with no distinct edges, no specific definition of where something begins or ends, without disparate colors, where magnification helps slightly, but not in a portable way that you can take on your run with you.
Diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative genetic eye disease eleven years ago, western Montana runner, Rhonda Copeland has slowly been losing her vision over the ensuing years. She decided to launch a website/blog to inspire herself, and hopefully others looking to break through barriers and succeed on whatever level they define as success, whatever their passions, whatever their obstacles.
Legally blind and with no known medical cure (yet), she’s had to discontinue many of the normal day-to-day activities that others take for granted. She had to stop driving eleven years ago, riding her bicycle four years ago, and she hasn’t been able to see well enough to engage in her favorite craft projects (like beading and stamping and photography) for many years, and she’s had to adapt to audiobooks to feed her enthusiasm for reading. The one thing she refused to give up though, was her passion for running. So she simply chose not to.
In 2007, she ran her first marathon, and continues to run, having recently added in the use of the white cane to help her “see” the edges of the controlled trails she now has to run on. Dubbed “Vision Runner” this past year, she still works at the hospital in the same job she’s held for twelve years as a Call System Operator. They’ve been very good at adapting the work space to allow her to perform her job, but it’s not something she’s counting on being able to continue to do for another twelve years.
Refusing to be a victim, she comes at everything from the perspective of “What can I do?” as opposed to feeling sorry for herself and moaning over what she can’t do. To refer to herself with the term “disabled” never occurs to her, nor does it cross the mind of those closest to her, and many people have met and interacted with her several times before realizing that she couldn’t see.
Recently rejecting her diagnosis and the prognosis that she will soon be completely blind, she chose to envision a new reality for herself. Searching for a way to engage her passion for running, while at the same time serving others, she realized she could share her experiences with other people facing obstacles.
In mid August, 2008 she made the decision to set up a website, www.RunnerInsight.com. Enlisting the help of her partner, she has created a blog chronicling her journey to create a new reality, telling the true story of her adventures with vision loss and running in her every day life. Within two weeks, the website was up and launched, with new content provided at least three times a week.
While you’d think the obvious audience would be runners, the blind and low-vision community and others facing physical obstacles and disabilities, Vision Runner’s appeal is widespread. The website is accessed as a source of motivation and inspiration by visitors from all walks of life, and is aimed at anyone facing a challenge in their life, regardless of whether it’s physical, emotional, spiritual or whether it revolves around personal, social or business success. Really, her story is everyone’s story: we all have to break down barriers and overcome obstacles.
Launched August 30, 2008, RunnerInsight.com provides each blog post in both text and audio format. Website visitors have been able to travel along with her on some of her more inspirational runs, and follow her training for the marathon, and laugh with her at her comical misadventures in common situations such as picking out a birthday card for mom, or using basic household appliances or selecting ingredients for a recipe.
Readers are able to interact with the site by posting comments, listening to pirates, and watching videos. This fall there was a highly anticipated Halloween story contest, and several readers submitted their best true Halloween story for possible inclusion on the website for Halloween. The winner was an engaging story of a tiny “princess” and a hefty “cowboy”.
Follow Vision Runner – Daring to envision a new reality – at www.RunnerInsight.com
As one of her promotional pieces says, “You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You might even get inspired.”
About Vision Runner – Vision Runner (Rhonda) has been a passionate runner for over 15 years, and has been slowly losing her eyesight over the past eleven years. Choosing not to give up her passion for running, she has adapted, and still runs independently, without the aid of a human or animal running assistant. She has run in several events, including Bloomsday in Spokane Washington, and the 26.2 mile marathon in the inaugural Missoula Marathon, as well as a handful of half-marathons, 5k’s and 10k’s. She is currently writing a book on how she trained for a marathon accommodating her special circumstances.