An Athlete’s Perspective – Issue 12

An Athlete’s Perspective is a blog series of event and/or training experiences written firsthand by the athletes themselves. An Athlete’s Perspective is a completely unscripted and raw look into the mind and daily life of an athlete as they prepare for their next race. Readers will discover training regimens, eating tips, gear recommendations, and an uncut perspective into the lives of people like you and me.

Beyond 26.2 Miles with All Blind Children of Texas

By: Cheryl Austin

Image of co-captains Janet Bean and Paula Willson (credit: Chrissy Cowan)

ABCTX co-captains Janet Bean and Paula Willson (credit: Chrissy Cowan)

“Unimaginable.” If I had to describe my experience with the 2018 Austin Marathon and Austin Gives Miles in one word, it would be “unimaginable.” I had run marathons before–four, in fact: one in each state I had lived–but this one was different. This time, the extent of my accomplishments reached far beyond myself, and would potentially impact the lives of the 9,000 legally blind children statewide.

As an individual with a congenital visual impairment (oculocutaneous albinism) and a teacher at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, I know well the unique educational needs of this population, and was pleased to learn about the efforts of All Blind Children of Texas (ABCTX). ABCTX is “a resource for the optimal physical, mental, emotional and social development” of these children, with a mission to fund and facilitate their participation in programs and activities that “provide hands-on learning experiences that help to master the skills needed to work alongside sighted peers.”

So, when I had to drop out of the Austin Marathon in 2017 due to an injury, I made myself a promise . . . If I ever ran another marathon, it would be for this charity, and I would not do it alone.

Image of ABCTX aid station at Mile 15. (credit: Chrissy Cowan)

ABCTX aid station at Mile 15. (credit: Chrissy Cowan)

Convincing the All Blind Children of Texas board to support my idea was easy, and the Austin Gives Miles application was straightforward and simple. What happened after we were accepted as a first-time Official Charity Partner was nothing less than remarkable. Under my leadership, a team of 59 runners and walkers came together and, with additional support from the Moody Foundation and Qualcomm, raised $33,500, more than double any previous ABCTX fundraiser. Some were experienced athletes; others had never participated in a road race before, and most had little to no fundraising experience. Local businesses opened their doors to host events and their hearts to donate goods and services, raising more dollars and building awareness of our mission and camaraderie within the community.

On race day, the miles seemed shorter and my legs less fatigued, as I reflected on this significant journey. With the support of more than 75 volunteers at Mile 15, my parents on the sidelines, and my husband at my side, I crossed the finish line with a sense of pride that I cannot describe. I had already won, so to learn that I had placed first in the female VI (B3) division was just icing on the cake!

For more information about All Blind Children of Texas, please visit