July 31, 2021
In Episode 43 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, our guest is Bob Babbitt, a co-founder of the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Babbitt discussed:
- How he got into endurance sports and his first Ironman event
- What inspired him to help launch the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF)
- Who is eligible for a CAF grant
- What these grants can actually cover for challenged athletes
- Examples of events and clinics CAF puts on
- Examples of blind and visually impaired athletes he has gotten to know and their unique stories
- Why he says he has so much respect for blind athletes
- How sports have transformed the lives of so many individuals he has met over the years
Learn more about the Challenged Athletes Foundation at www.challengedathletes.org.
Learn more about Bob Babbitt and find his podcast at www.babbittville.com.
July 17, 2021
In episode 42 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, we catch up with Dave Wilkinson, a blind triathlete, marathoner, and Ironman competitor who has a great sense of humor. Wilkinson spoke about:
- How his mom discovered his visual impairment of Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA)
- What led him to work in Iceland as a young man
- Attending and working for New York University (NYU)
- His work in assistive technology for a number of well-known companies and meeting his future wife at a conference
- Recreational activities he participated in as a youth
- Getting involved in Ski For Light and then trying a 5K for the first time
- His perspective on the keys to having a successful guide if you are a visually impaired runner or swimmer
- Completing the Louisville Ironman event a few years ago after being involved in a serious car accident
- His advice on how to get into sports and recreation if you are visually impaired and haven’t been active before or for a long time
Contact Dave by email at email@example.com.
Visit www.reliableracing.com to find the orange vest he has worn to indicate to others that he is visually impaired when running or skiing.
Learn more about Ironman races, what they are, and a schedule of upcoming events at www.ironman.com.
July 3, 2021
In Episode 41 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, we are joined by two sisters who play blind hockey, Vicki Vanturini McDermott and
Christine Vanturini Callagy. They talked about:
- Growing up with Stargardt disease
- Getting into hockey through the Pawling Youth Hockey Program in New York
- How Christine got to do an internship with Courage Canada, now called Canadian Blind Hockey
- What it meant to them to experience blind hockey for the first time
- Their favorite positions to play on the ice
- Their perspectives on being the only females on the U.S. Blind Hockey National Team and how they can introduce more females to the sport
Learn more about blind hockey in the U.S. at https://www.usahockey.com/blindhockey.
Learn more about the Canadian Blind Hockey Association at https://canadianblindhockey.com/.
June 19, 2021
In Episode 40 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, we visit with highly accomplished beep baseball player and advocate Kalari Girtley-Jackson. She spoke about:
- Suddenly becoming visually impaired at the age of six
- Growing up in Chicago and playing sports as a young girl
- How she discovered beep baseball
- How getting involved in beep baseball has transformed her outlook in so many ways
- Why she says she feels “normal” when she is at a beep baseball event
- A funny story about when she was interning with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
- Her involvement in the Women of Our League (WOOL) exhibition game at the World Series each year and her goal for an all-women’s team to compete against the entire league
- Her appearance on the MLB Network to raise awareness about beep baseball thanks to the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF)
- A contest through Orcam she won in which she traveled to Barcelona, Spain to meet several blind athletes from around the world and a soccer superstar
- Why she says blindness is a “universal language”
June 5, 2021
In Episode 39 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, our guest is Richard Thomsen of the American Blind Skiing Foundation. Thompson talked about:
- His early years and visual impairment
- Attending camps for visually impaired kids
- Sports he initially tried as a kid, including football and wrestling
- His college education and his current bachelor’s program at the College of Lake County
- His experience doing web design and social media marketing through his own small business
- How he initially got interested in skiing
- The history of the American Blind Skiing Foundation (ABSF)
- How ABSF guides work to help guide blind and visually impaired skiers
- Examples of ski trips members have taken and how the organization helps cover many of the expenses for skiers
- The adaptations of snowboarding for the blind
- The guide clinics ABSF puts on to train guides on the specifics of guiding blind and visually impaired skiers
- The camaraderie and support among the skiers
Learn more about the American Blind Skiing Foundation at www.absf.org. Follow ABSF on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmericanBlindSkiingFoundation/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/americanblindskiingfoundation/.
Learn more about Thomsen’s web design and marketing business at http://tnt-concepts.com.
May 22, 2021
In Episode 38 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, we talk to 11-year-old Isaiah Bingham, a visually impaired athlete from Delaware, along with his father, Bernard Bingham. The two discussed:
- Where Isaiah was born and his visual impairment
- How Bernard and his wife took action early in Isaiah’s life to help him
- The initial sports Isaiah got into starting around age four
- How he got into playing football, the positions he plays, and the unique nickname his coach gave him
- Isaiah’s clothing line and book he is publishing
- The numerous media interviews and other unique opportunities Isaiah has had in his life already
- The community service work Isaiah has already done to help the homeless and kids in need
Check out Isaiah’s website at www.vision322020.com. Follow him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/vision2020ceo/ and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bernard_bingham. Check out his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/vision2020CEO/.
May 8, 2021
In Episode 37 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, we visit with Kevin Shanley. One of the “founding fathers” of blind hockey in the United States, Shanley spoke about:
- Growing up in Boston, MA and why his parents always let him hang out with fully sighted kids
- Attending Saint Michael's College in Vermont and then Clarkson University in New York
- Finding his niche in engineering and starting his career with IBM
- Interning with the Naval Research Lab in its marine meteorology division
- Going back to school for a master’s degree from UMass Boston and returning to Clarkson University for a Ph.D.
- Working for Rolls-Royce on the gas turbine engines of aircraft
- Changing careers and going into higher education to help launch a new mechanical engineering program at the State University of New York (SUNY) in New Paltz, NY
- Playing beep baseball for the Boston Renegades for one season
- How he got into playing hockey as an adult with fully sighted peers but then discovering Courage Canada, now known as the Canadian Blind Hockey Association
- Competing in the first national Canadian blind hockey tournament and how he felt so accepted by the camaraderie of the players
- How he helped arrange the first-ever blind hockey summit in the U.S.
- The adaptations and rules of blind hockey
- The possibility of blind hockey getting into the Paralympics in 2026
- How several NHL clubs have supported local blind hockey programs
- His guide dog, Bo, from Freedom Guide Dogs and the tremendous benefits of this partnership
Learn more about blind hockey in the U.S. at https://www.usahockey.com/blindhockey. Learn more about blind hockey in Canada at https://canadianblindhockey.com.
April 24, 2021
In Episode 36 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, we learn about blind golf. Our two guests, Greg Hooper and Ty Thompson of the United States Blind Golf Association (USBGA), spoke about:
- Their personal lives, careers, and their unique visual impairments
- A history of the USBGA and its connection to the International Blind Golf Association (IBGA)
- The adaptations of golf for the blind and visually impaired
- The relationship between the blind golfer and his or her coach
- How a golf course is identified for a blind golf tournament
- How the two have helped get visually impaired kids into playing golf
- The benefits of playing this great sport and the family atmosphere of the USBGA
Learn more about blind golf and the USBGA at www.usblindgolf.com. Follow the USBGA on Facebook at https://facebook.com/USBGA and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/us_blind_golf.
April 10, 2021
In Episode 35 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, we visit with blind long distance runner and marathoner Abigail Shaw. She talked about:
- Her diagnosis of a visual impairment at age four
- Attending Appalachian State University to earn a bachelor’s in music and audio production and Fordham University for a Master of Social Work
- Her guide dog from the Running Guides program at Guiding Eyes for the Blind and a special harness to make running with her dog more efficient
- How she got involved in running with Achilles International, an organization that helps engage people with disabilities in running and other recreational activities
- The half-marathons, marathons, and triathlons she has competed in
- What she enjoys most about running and how accepting the running community is for people of diverse abilities
- Her job with Learning Ally, an organization providing audiobooks and mentoring to students who are visually impaired, dyslexic, or have other challenges
- Her advocacy work on the Advisory Committee on Transit Accessibility through the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York
Learn more about Achilles International at http://www.achillesinternational.org. Learn more about Learning Ally at http://learningally.org.