April 1, 2019

The following was written by Jamie Crowell, a visually impaired cyclist, swimmer, and 5k fast-walker. Jamie was born blind, and she lives independently with her guide dog, Carol. Jamie works full-time, enjoys her church, and grew up right here in Charlotte. To say that Jamie is tough, resilient, and independent would be an understatement!   

Before I found Para Guide I was doing spin classes, water aerobics, and weight lifting at the Y. I was introduced to the tandem bike while I was  vacationing at a camp for the blind and visually impaired and I was hooked. I only had one place to ride and one person to ride with, but only when he was available which wasn't much. 

One evening I was going really hard in spin class, and I was becoming more and more frustrated because I didn't think I was going to find anyone else to ride with or find my own bike. I was on the verge of tears and ready to give up. Then my coworker told me about Para Guide, what they did, and they were just getting started. I met Paul and Shannon. The first race I did was the time trials at the Charlotte motor Speedway. I have done many road rides and races since then. 

I recently did twenty miles on the Giordana Velodrome on the new track bike that Para Guide owns. They also own two road tandems. Para Guide also purchased an indoor trainer and a road bike for me so that I can simulate riding the tandem indoors when it's cold or raining outside. 

As cross training for the bike, I fast-walk 5Ks using a sighted guide and a tether. I am also taking swim lessons, and I introduced my swim instructor to using the swim tether which helps us  greatly in the pool. 

Para Guide  has allowed me to things I would not be doing otherwise. Through Para Guide, I will be going to Colorado for cycling development camp in May. It is hard for me to express in words what this organization means to me.