MABVI Gives Awards for Excellence in Visually Impaired Athletic Competition

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The Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) has announced the winners of its Richard Hunter CIM to Boston Running in Excellence award: visually impaired runners and triathletes Jason Dunkerley and Alison Lynch.

The Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) has announced the winners of its Richard Hunter CIM to Boston Running in Excellence award: visually impaired runners and triathletes Jason Dunkerley and Alison Lynch. The award was created in honor of Richard Hunter, a visually impaired runner, former Marine, and para-athlete advocate, and recognizes outstanding runners who qualify for the Boston Marathon by competing in the California International Marathon (CIM).

“These inspiring award winners give athletes who are visually impaired a gold standard to which they can aspire,” said Barbara Salisbury, CEO of Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. “They also remind us to focus on the accomplishments—not the disabilities—of our friends and community members.”

Jason Dunkerley

Jason Dunkerley, an émigré from Northern Ireland, has proudly represented Canada at five Paralympic Games, and is a five-time medalist in middle distance track among runners who are blind. Growing up in Northern Ireland with two brothers who are also blind, Jason developed a love for physical activity which would become a defining aspect of his life. With encouragement from his parents, teachers, coaches, and friends, he competed in track throughout high school and at the University of Guelph, where he studied International Development. He holds a degree in International Development from the University of Guelph, and a Masters in World Literatures and Cultures from the University of Ottawa. Jason works for the Canadian federal public service as a Junior Analyst with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

Jason has worked to promote inclusive physical activity with the Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability; is one of the founding members—and current President—of the Achilles Ottawa running club for athletes who are blind and visually impaired; and is a board member of the Ontario Blind Sports Association. Through his work, Jason gives back to a sport and physical activity community which has given him so much, and encourages people of all abilities to realize the transformational benefits of an active lifestyle, just as he did.

Dunkerley competed in the 2000 Summer Paralympics in Sydney, Australia, where he won a silver medal in the T11 men’s 1500 metres event and went out in the first round of the T12 men’s 800 metres event. At the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, Greece, he won a silver medal in the men’s 1500 metres - T11 event and went out in the first round of the men’s 800 metres - T12 event. At the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, China, he won a bronze medal in the men’s 1500 metres - T11 event and went out in the first round of the men’s 800 metres - T12 event. At the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, United Kingdom, he won a bronze medal in the men’s 1500 metres - T11 and a silver medal in the men’s 5000 metres - T11.

Alison Lynch

Alison Lynch is relatively new to the competitive athletics world, having started running consistently in April 2016 after challenging herself to finish a 10K, which was her longest race to date at that point. Shortly after, Alison joined the New York City chapter of Achilles to keep up a consistent running schedule, and to became a member of the Achilles triathlon team. She competed in two Olympic-distance triathlons in 2016, earning a third-place finish at the New York City Triathlon in the female Para division.

Later that year, Lynch became an honorary member of MABVI’s Team With A Vision when she joined the MABVI-sponsored, all-visually-impaired ultra team that ran the Ragnar Reach the Beach Relay in September 2016. After training for longer distances, Alison ran her first half marathon in October 2016, followed by two more in November and December. During the offseason in 2017, she continued to train for the half marathon distance, while also focusing on cycling and swimming for the upcoming triathlon season. During the 2017 season, she raced in five sprint and Olympic triathlons, including the Paratriathlon National Championships, where she placed first in the Open division.

Alison decided to try another challenge, and signed up for the New York City marathon as a member of Achilles. She completed her first marathon in November, and ran the CIM less than a month later, finishing both races in Boston-qualifying times. Alison is excited to continue her training with an eye toward the hills of Boston. When she’s not training or racing, Alison works as an attorney in New York City.

Richard Hunter

Richard Hunter is a former Marine, and his medical discharge forced an early retirement from a second career as a school psychologist. He fought back to become a nationally respected ultra-runner, Ironman triathlete, marathoner, and advocate for visually impaired athletes.

In addition to his own participation in endurance sports, Richard considers it equally important to serve as a resource to other athletes with visual impairments who want to be physically active outdoors. In 2015, the Northern California native, hoping to ease the challenge of finding sighted guides, teamed up with the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired—the first organization to pair him with a sighted guide—and founded United in Stride, a web tool for uniting visually impaired runners and sighted guides across North America.

MABVI

MABVI has fielded runners through Team With A Vision (TWAV) in the Boston Marathon for 24 years, featuring many world-class visually impaired athletes who are proving that with the right support, people who are visually impaired can do anything they set their minds to. The team’s runners—both visually impaired and sighted—participate to raise funds and awareness, and inspire others with disabilities. The team is a member of the Boston Athletic Association Boston Marathon Official Charity Program.

While some visually impaired runners have enough sight to run on their own, most have guides who run with them, often on short tethers, advising them of turns, potholes, potential collisions and other hazards. These running pairs often form long friendships, bonding through their shared challenges.

ABOUT MABVI AND TEAM WITH A VISION

Team With A Vision was created to raise funds and awareness for MABVI and to promote greater involvement of visually impaired runners in the Boston Marathon. MABVI works to show that disabilities, like other challenges, can be overcome in the world of sport, and by translation, in any setting. The team is a proud member of the Boston Athletic Association Boston Marathon Official Charity Program.

Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) is the oldest social service organization in the country that serves adults and elders who are blind or visually impaired. They provide vision rehabilitation services and partner with community and medical groups to create high-impact, cost-effective services. TWAV is an international team of blind, visually impaired, and sighted runners committed to race and raise funds for the cause.

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Paul Twitchell
MABVI
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