Team With A Vision is proud to be one of only six organizations chosen to be a new Boston Athletic Association Official Charity for the Boston Marathon 2017.
For the last 24 years members of Team With A Vision have toed the starting line on Marathon Monday and shown the world that 'disability' does not mean "inability."
Our international team of runners who are visually impaired, sighted guides, and fundraisers race to support individuals throughout Massachusetts living with vision loss. Their efforts allow the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) to deliver professional, peer, and volunteer support to over 1,200 individuals each year, giving them the support they need to live with dignity and independence.
All funds raised support MABVI's statewide network of vision rehabilitation services, which include 14 low vision centers, 34 low vision peer support groups, and 300 volunteers matched 1:1 with individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
Want to run with Team With A Vision and support the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired at the same time? Check out our Upcoming Events!
Meet this year's runners:TEAM BERBERIAN
Diane Berberian – Saint Petersburg, FL
Diane Berberian is a woman who knows no limits. Living with Macular Degeneration (MD), Diane has become one of the most celebrated and successful female Ironman athletes in the sport. Diane thrives on taming the challenges that the sport of Paratriathlon offers; earning her the nickname of “The Iron Maven”.
Diane will be running alongside her guide and hero, Karen Smyers. Karen, like Diane, is not only a championed triathlete, but a cancer survivor as well and is empowered to share this journey with Diane!
Dan Berlin – Fort Collins, CO
After losing most of his sight to cone-rod dystrophy in his early 30's, Dan left his corporate job, moved to Colorado, co-founded a company, and became a marathoner.
Dan is a proud husband and father of two awesome children! As co-owner of Rodelle, an industry-leading global vanilla company, he’s never lets his blindness prevent him from living life to the fullest. He started running 6 years ago, and has hit the adventure world by storm.
In the past few years alone, has Dan completed two historic feats: running 46 miles Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim across the Grand Canyon and back, and running the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 13 hours! Dan became the first ever runner who is visually impaired to complete either of those accomplishments.
This will be Dan’s 5th year racing Boston, go team BERLIN!
Adrian Broca – Los Angeles, CA
Adrian Broca is one of the fastest visually impaired marathon runners in the United States with a personal best of 2:50:37. He is one of only three current blind American runners to break the 3-hour mark for the 26.2-mile distance.
A high school cross-country runner, Broca was diagnosed with Leber’s Optic Neuropathy at the age of eighteen. LHON, an inherited form of vision loss, causes atrophy of the optic nerve. After struggling with depression for several years, Broca finally took steps toward regaining a more confident life.
He has formed life-long friendships with his guides across the country. Their generosity serves as an important reminder of the kindness and depth of the human spirit.
Jose Centeno - Dayton, OH
After retiring after 20 years from the Marine Corps, Jose began working at the USPS as a mail carrier. Everyday included delivering mail and walking 10 miles, Jose would then train for his upcoming races, averaging a handful of halves and 3 full marathons a year. Then one day in 2015, Jose was unable to read the addresses on the letters he was delivering and after a diagnosis from the doctor, he learned he had glaucoma. After the prognosis, Jose’s vision loss rapidly declined and was declared legally blind within a few months, forcing him to retire after 20 years in the United States Post Office.
Jose continues to train for upcoming races, though now he runs side by side with guides who assist in him navigating the course. He has taken many strides to learn the necessary skills to lead a more independent life. This spring, Jose will be lacing up his sneakers next to his sighted guide Jim Bunnell, together they will navigate the Boston Marathon for the first time and show the world that with the right support, anything is possible!
John Chan – Staten Island, NY
This will be John’s third time running for Team With A Vision at the Boston Marathon and we couldn't be more thrilled! Last fall we had the pleasure of John joining us at the innaugral Cambridge Half Marathon where he placed 1st in the Visually Impaired Men’s Division! Having been diagnosed with Lupus on top of his limited vision, he finds running to be his therapy and a way to relieve everyday stresses.
Pounding the pavement keeps him in shape and makes John feel alive, he also likes to bike and swim when he can – “this way I don’t feel too guilty about my eating habits!”
Kyle Coon - Carbondale, Colorado
Kyle Coon has stood atop Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa and Mount St. Helen's. He has hiked a trail into Machu Picchu in Peru and he has completed an ironman. He has been a downhill skier, a wrestler for his high-school team in Jacksonville and at UCF, and a marathoner and triathlete. "I have always liked the biggest of the biggest challenges,'' Coon said.
It was not always that way. Coon, 24, lost his left eye when he was 5 years old and his right one a year later because of a form of cancer called retinoblastoma. The disease affected Coon's vision of his future, which seemed limited by his lack of sight. I run to feel good, to push myself beyond my own perceived limitations. I run to raise awareness and shatter the perceptions people have about people who are blind/visually impaired. And I run to enjoy the comradery of other runners whether they're guiding me or just training with me. There's nothing quite like the endurance sports community.
This will be Kyle’s first time at Boston and first time joining the Team With A Vision roster alongside his guide Trinity Terry.
Joyce Cron - Acton, MA
Since being born with retinitis pigmentosa, Joyce’s vision has been slowly, but progressively decreasing, including her peripheral vision. In 1987, Joyce was declared legally blind and had been working in computers before she became a stay-at-home mother to her 2 children, both active in sports and music.
Joyce, who has lived in Acton for 18 years, has been a runner since her high school years in Setauket, New York. An avid bicyclist most her life, Joyce was part of the Boston-based bicycle club Charles River Wheelmen, and was also a windsurfer before she had children.
This will be Joyce’s third time racing Boston, returning with her sighted guide Rebecca Tracshel! Joyce is excited to be racing Boston again, and toeing the line with her teammates!
Marcos Duenas – Los Angeles, CA
Marcos is thrilled to be joining the roster for the first time this year as an opportunity to unite with his peers and demonstrate to the world that with the right support, you can achieve your goals. For over 3 years, Marcos has been competing in CrossFit and just a few years ago completed the 2015 LA Marathon, his first! His proudest accomplishment comes from earning the 2017 Ironman Silver All World Athlete and qualifying for his first Boston.
When not running, Marcos spends his time reading, playing his guitar, and meditating. He is so honored and humbled by the time and commitment of his guides, who give him an overall sense of wellbeing and a healthy lifestyle. Joining Marcos is his guide Luis Montiel, who will help navigate all 26.2 miles of crowds, hills, water stops, and both will raise their hands high as they cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon!
Kurt Fiene – Los Angeles, CA
In 2009 Kurt Fiene was notably one of the top 500 fastest athletes taking part in the Boston Marathon, with a PR around 2:50. Unlike the other runners in his corral, Fiene was born without irises. He has no vision in his right eye, and 20/400 vision in his left. He can tell if people have long or short hair, but he can't make out the color of their eyes. He started running to lose weight after graduating from college, and in 1994, he competed at the International Paralympic Committee World Championships, taking home bronze, silver, and gold medals.
"My main goal with running is to promote causes for the visually impaired," Fiene says. "I want to give back to organizations that have helped me in my life."
During that year, there was a friendly competitive feud between Adrian Broca and Kurt Fiene, who both run a similar pace and will both be joining us at Boston again! We are excited to see the duo battle to the finish line and show their peers that with the right support, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!
Nate Gorham – Fort Meyers Beach, CA
Nate Gorham runs the beach early in the morning, before there are many people out. But he still occasionally runs into someone. Sometimes they get angry, he joked, but he didn’t see them there.
The West Virginia native served for seven years in the U.S. Army, including a tour in Iraq. When he returned home, he noticed his sight was deteriorating - and after visiting doctor after doctor, he was diagnosed with cone dystrophy, a progressive eye deterioration that slowly eats away his vision.
He realized, he had no idea what to expect. Or what to do. He didn't even know a blind person, he said. "All those accessibility features on the iPhone that I never had to care about?", he had to find out how to use them, he said, with a chuckle.
"Your whole lifestyle changes, 'what am I going to do?'" he said. "Having no experience, you have no idea what's out there, you think you're going to sit in the dark. How do you get out?"
Nate has since found his way out, by staying active, he’s discovered friends among his peers and connected with the running community. This will be Nate’s first Boston Marathon in April alongside his guide Deb Yoder and members of Team With A Vision.
Aaron Hale – Santa Rosa Beach, FL
A 14-year veteran of both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy, Aaron was an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team Leader in both Iraq and Afghanistan. On his second mission in Afghanistan in 2011, his bomb squad was disarming an Improvised Explosive Device when another one detonated. In an instant, Aaron was blinded. In August 2015, Aaron lost his hearing due to a sudden case of bacterial meningitis. The illness caused Aaron to go deaf. To help him communicate, cochlear implants now aid his hearing.
Originally a cook in the Navy, Aaron and his fiancée McKayla also started a fudge business called EOD Extra Ordinary Delights.
“I don’t have my eyesight…so a lot of the experience is taken from me. I still get to feel the air, I can feel the crispness when I inhale and exhale. Then there’s the sense of accomplishment – getting out and doing something that may be the hardest thing, physically, you’ve ever done.” We are excited to have Aaron join our roster for his second Boston Marathon!
Jen Herring – Hamilton, NJ
Jen Herring is unstoppable! Legally blind since birth, Jen, now 41 years old, keeps a positive attitude and doesn’t let vision impairment keep her from any of her goals in life.
For as long as she can remember, Jen has loved running. “I started telling people in elementary school that I would be in the Olympics. I call the Boston Marathon my Olympics,” she says. In the last 13 years she has raced in the Boston Marathon, placing in the top 3 for the Women's Visually Impaired Division every single time, winning 1st place 5 times!
This year’s Boston will be Jen’s 28th marathon overall, with her goal being to run 50.
"I am so thankful for being invited to run with Team With A Vision. It is a special group of inspirational runners and compassionate guides who working together accomplish goals and raise money to help others with similar circumstances. I look forward every year to coming up to Boston to be with everyone who shares experiences of overcoming obstacles and the determination to never give up!”
Chris Lancaster – Orlando, FL
Chris is visually impaired with a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa and has type 1 Diabetes. He has certification in personal training and is a food nutrition specialist. Chris loves being healthy and teaching others about an active and fit lifestyle. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and his two daughters, Julia (11) and SarahKate (9) in Florida.
“I enjoy being around so many others facing similar challenges and being able to challenge myself not only through running but triathlons and Ironman competitions as well,” he says. "If you really want it there's a way to get it. You just have to find that way and be persistent," Chris Lancaster said.
Chris will be running in his third Boston Marathon, he’s pumped to join the team for another year and reunite with friends!
Todd MacAusland – Prince Edward Island, Canada
Todd has several marathons under his belt, but running an endurance race is not the biggest challenge he has faced. The Stratford man has retinitis pigmentosa, a disease that causes slow progressive vision loss with no treatment or cure.
"I don't have any night vision left at all now. It's pretty hard to navigate in the dark, so I rely on family and friends when we're out and about and peripherally my vision has deteriorated," says MacAusland. Four years ago he wanted to get into shape, so MacAusland says he started exercising on his treadmill. That turned into 5K runs which led to marathons — three so far.
"I made the decision a long time ago that I was going to live my life the best way I could, change what I can, manage what I can't and just move forward." We are thrilled to welcome Todd and his guide Rosie Banks to the Team With A Vision roster and see them sport their gear on race day!
Erich Manser – Littleton, MA
Erich Manser is many things – among them a runner, a Paralympian, an accessible technology expert with IBM, a husband, a father to two girls (Ellie, 11, and Grace, 8), and an Ironman World Record holder. Diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa as a young boy, he clearly hasn’t let it stop him from accomplishing his goals.
Erich is a sixteen-time marathoner (2017 Boston will be 17). He was also a member of the 2012 U.S. Paralympics Emerging team for swimming 50-yard freestyle (that year he set a Pan-American record in the 1500-meter freestyle for S13 visually-impaired), and he still holds the 24-year-old Massachusetts YMCA record in the 50-yard freestyle. He took first place in 2011 Augusta 70.3 Ironman physically challenged division and last fall set the new World Record for Ironman in the Physically Challenged Division with a time of 10:11:28.
He enjoys the health and fitness benefits of his active lifestyle, and loves that his daughters seem to enjoy following his example!
Mike Merino – Hendersonville, NC
Merino, 45, has a hereditary disease, Usher Syndrome Type II, which caused moderate hearing loss at birth and an onset of Retinitis Pigmatosis (a degenerative eye disease) in his 20s. He was not formally diagnosed until his late 30s and has coped with his condition and prognosis by competing as a visually impaired athlete since 2013 – a year after he crossed the threshold for legal blindness. He now has zero peripheral vision as well as night blindness.
For now, Merino runs for himself, as well as to promote awareness of the visually impaired – a race demographic that many runners forget about. We are thrilled to have Mike on the roster this year alongside his guide, David Workman, toeing the line in Hopkinton!
Merino’s perspective closely aligns with Team With A Vision’s in that, “with hard work and support you can do anything.”
Matt Oliver – Santee, CA
Matt became legally blind at age 16 at the end of 2004. He has always been active, but was more of bicyclist prior to becoming legally blind. In 2009, at age 20, he started running to stay healthy. While running began as a fun way for him to exercise, he later began to do races.
“Although I can’t ride bikes the way I did before,” says Matt, “I’m glad I can have just as much fun in running!”
This will be Matt’s second Boston Marathon, where he will defend his 1st place title in the Visually Impaired Division. Matt will be guided by Matt Vance and Silvio Guerra on race day and we are pumped to have him join the roster again!
Thomas Panek – Yorktown, NY
Ever since Thomas learned at age 20 that he would lose his eyesight, he vowed that his disability would not prevent him from living a full life. “I wanted to do everything that sighted people do, and more,” he says. He has not let himself down.
Thomas is President and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, which provides guide dogs to individuals with vision loss as well as service dogs for children with autism. He is passionate about connecting exceptional dogs with individuals and families for greater independence.
IN addition to serving as President and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, he has completed a dozen marathons since he lost his sight. We are thrilled to welcome Thomas for the 3rd year at Boston and can’t wait for him to lace up!
Tim Paul – Chicago, IL
This will be Tim’s second marathon this year, racing in the Visually Impaired Division at the Houston Marathon and the upcoming Boston Marathon. Tim resides in Chicago and spends his days working at a call center in the Health Care Industry. Tim is a Team With A Vision Veteran, having raced with us in 2003.
We are thrilled to have Tim and his guide Chris McClendon lace up and don their red Team With A Vision singlets this season, showing the world that with the right support, anything is possible!
Randy Pierce – Nashua, NH
“You go one day at a time. And before you know it, you’re on top of the world, too.” - Randy
Born and raised in New Hampshire, Randy was active in band, drama, and several outdoor sports before he climbed his first mountain at the young age of 10. Randy went on to earn his BSEE from the University of New Hampshire, then began a successful career at Digital Equipment Corporation as a hardware design engineer.
At the age of 22, Randy unexpectedly lost his vision over the course of a short two weeks due to a devastating neurological disease. In September of 2015, Randy climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with a small support team and his guide dog Autumn. Last fall Randy was one of six to take part in Ragnar’s Reach The Beach New Hampshire ULTRA Distance all Visually Impaired team.
Randy’s passion for new experiences continues to encourage him to turn adversity into growth and opportunity, inspiring others to reach their peak potential as Randy has and continues to do. We are thrilled to have Randy join us again alongside his guides Tom Cassetty and Greg Hallerman.
Kyle Robidoux – Roxbury, MA
After running his first marathon in 2010, Kyle’s friends started asking if he was going to run the Boston Marathon. “I answered no, because due to the short days and being legally blind, I thought it was too difficult for me to train during the winter.” After joining the staff at the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired in 2013, Kyle’s attitude quickly changed.
“I've met some amazing people, co-workers, clients, and blind and visually impaired athletes, who've inspired me to no longer say ‘I can't’ but ‘how can I,’ So I'm thrilled to be running Boston for the third year as a member of Team With A Vision.”
Kyle ran his first Boston Marathon in 2014, and MABVI was instrumental in his ability to train. We matched Kyle with a sighted guide for all of his training runs. MABVI also introduced him to the wonderful community of athletes who are blind/visually impaired. Kyle now considers himself and Ultra Distance runner and is sponsored by Topo Athletic and NATHAN hydration system. He will be taking on Boston in a new way, first running from Boston to Hopkinton, then after a quick break, turning around and running Hopkinton to Boston, a total of 52.4 miles alongside his guides Michelle Becker and Samantha LeBlanc.
Jason Romero – Denver, CO
Jason was born of humble beginnings, and was raised with his brother by a single mother. In middle school Jason was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, an incurable degenerative retinal disease.
Jason discovered endurance sports and ran his first marathon while he was in law school, he saw that there were no limits and anything was possible. He began training for his first marathon in 1993, and would do his long runs by having his mother drive him to Boulder, then he would run to Denver on the shoulder of the highway. He would do this without water, food, sunscreen or a cell phone. Jason is noted to say, "I was either very stupid or very courageous . . . as I age the former seems more appropriate."
Jason has since set many world records and won metals in the Paralympics, including his latest by becoming the first athlete who is visually impaired to race across from LA to NYC in 60 days 10 hours for a total of 3,063 miles.
We are thrilled to have Jason join us at Boston and adorn our coveted red Team With A Vision singlet!
Aaron Scheidies – Seattle, WA
Aaron Scheidies is a 35-year-old who has overcome more in his short life than many conquer in a lifetime. Born with a hereditary eye condition that slowly deteriorates his central vision, Aaron now has about 15% of the vision of a fully sighted person. Aaron has won the Men’s Visually Impaired Division in the Boston Marathon in the last three years, and has come close to breaking Kurt Fiene’s Men’s Blind American Marathon record time.
Having traveled around the globe and competed in nearly 250 triathlons, Aaron is a 7-time World Champion Paratriathlete, 8-time National Champion Paratriathlete, and 2011 ESPY Finalist. He was named 2013 Paratriathlete of the Year by USA Triathlon.
Aaron has been featured in such magazines as GQ, Esquire, Competitor, Runner’s World, Time, People, ESPN the Magazine, and Men’s Health. We are excited to have Aaron join the roster again, lacing up his sneakers at the start line to defend his title!
Tim Sullivan – Hamilton, Ontario
Tim started running to get in shape for playing soccer on a team with some co-workers but never expected to run a marathon. Living with RP, Tim appreciates the support of his sighted guides and family, so that he can accomplish his marathon dreams! He’s been running for five years now and has completed four marathons!
2017 will be Tim’s third year racing the Boston Marathon and his third year as a member of Team With A Vision! Tim has two daughters, Emma (13) and Grace (10) and has been married to his wife Shelly for 17 years.
Mark Remy of the founder of dumbrunner.com will be guiding Tim as he strides his way across that beautiful Boston Marathon finish line!
Brian Switzer - Easton, MA
In 2015, Brian conquered the Alaska Equinox Marathon, one of the world’s toughest marathons, so Boston should be a piece of cake, right?
Brian always had a deep love for running and even after being diagnosed with Ushers Syndrome type 2, he’s never fully stopped hitting the pavement. This past fall, he had the pleasure of becoming a member of the Boston Renegades Beep Baseball team. Brian is a huge Boston sports fan and is thrilled that I get to be a part of such a great group of athletes. Stride after stride, running helped build his confidence and now he’s preparing to head off to graduate school to study Public Policy.
Life is much too short to stop doing the things we love. Brian’s guide and uncle, Mike Switzer will be navigating the Boston Marathon course together for the second time alongside our fellow Team With A Vision members.
Yuichi Takahashi – Japan
At the 2015 California International Marathon, Yuichi Takahashi won our CIM to Boston Excellence in Athletics Award, giving him the opportunity to race in the 2017 Boston Marathon.
When Yuichi was in high school, his eyesight deteriorated due to an intractable disease and then when he was just 30, he was declared legally blind. Not wanting to give up, he was motivated to set new goals when he had heard of a fellow Japanese athlete winning gold at the Atlanta Paralympics. Eight years later, Yuichi achieved his dream, winning gold at the Athens Paralympics. His next goal is to compete in the Tokyo Paralympics.
We will see Yuichi lace up his sneakers and toe the starting line in Hopkinton alongside his wife and guide, Yoshiko. We are excited to have Yuichi for his first Boston Marathon, and for him to experience the comradery of the weekend!
Lisa Thompson – Houston, TX
This is Lisa’s fifth time running the Boston Marathon as a member of Team With A Vision, but she’s definitely not a stranger to the Boston Marathon, having won second place in 2013 and 2015 and first place 2014 and 2016.
Lisa also runs her own bed and breakfast and is a leader in her town’s 300 members running club. She’s a prominent figure in her community both as a runner and as a prominent business woman.
We are thrilled to have Lisa lace up her sneakers on race day, sharing in the weekend with her fellow teammates!
Maribel Vasquez – Santee, CA
In 2015, Maribel came to Boston to cheer on Matt Oliver, and was inspired to race herself! Maribel is an athlete who knows no bounds, she participates in triathlons and road races while working full time at Home Depot.
We are pumped to have Maribel join us on the roster, shifting from the sidelines to out on the course race day, showing the world that with the right support, anything is possible!
Simon Wheatcroft – Doncaster, England
Unknown to Simon’s family, he was born with the genetic degenerative eye condition – Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) which gradually deteriorates your retina. At age 13, during a routine eye test, the optician noticed something strange about my retina. A few months later he was diagnosed with RP, and by the age of 17 his vision had deteriorated to the point where he became legally blind.
The idea if running first took hold when Simon was waiting for his new start at university and had a lot of time on his hands. He thought to himself “maybe I could just go outside and run?” Eventually Simon began running on a closed road, where he knew he would be safe and could just run up and down to his heart’s content. He could feel the double yellow lines underfoot and used them as his guide and was beginning to be less constrained by his lack of vision.
In 2014, sponsored by AirBnB and RunKeeper, Simon took on the adventure of running from Boston to NYC and then running the NYC Marathon - that’s over 250 miles in 11 consecutive days! We are so honored and humbled to have Simon join our roster for his third Boston Marathon alongside his guide Neil Bacon, together they will navigate all 26.2 miles of twists, hills, crowds, and finally cross the finish line in Boston!