In 2007, thanks to Gina Lombardi of Fit TV's Fit Nation and Lokelani McMichael, the youngest person to complete the Ironman Triathlon at eighteen years old, I was inspired to try my hands at triathlons. I did not know if race organizers would let me. After losing my sight, I was not sure if I could or would be allowed to participate in athletics with everyone else instead of those adapted for the blind and visually impaired to which I never grew accustomed. I learned via the trusty internet that there was an organization called the C Different Foundation which was founded to inspired, educate, and change the world. C Different wished to inspire blind and visually impaired people to lead active lives in athletics. The organization wanted to show blind and visually impaired folks what could be possible. CDF wanted to show the world that there was a growing percentage of people who had a disability, but they were not disabled. they were not defined by their eye condition. The founder of this non profit was a man named Matt Miller. I read about Matt and his many experiences. He raced triathlons at an elite level, he was a model who travelled the globe, he appeared in many daytime soaps, he had produced a film called victory Over Darkness as he helped five individuals become the first ever blind triathletes to complete an Ironman, and he had a daytime job as a roofer. I reached out to him and within an hour, he responded to me. In those five years, I have had the great privilege to be friends with this magnificent man. I have raced on his Team CDF for various races in several different cities. Matt has always been supportive of my athletics, theater, and film ventures. He has always pushed me to strive. I always enjoy the times on the course where Matt spots me then joins my guide and I for a bit. In one race, he even decided to join my guide and I for the final four miles of a 30K to help me run it in on a very tough day.
Matt Miller has opened doors for many people. He has provided opportunities for many who are blind and visually impaired. He has opened the eyes of regular folks, media members, and pro athletes. Any number of people from any of the three categories which I just mentioned have seen or read about Matt's C Different athletes and have been moved to volunteer their time. I can not begin to count the number of times I go to a function for the C Different Foundation only to see someone from the media who has volunteered to guide a CDF athlete. I have also shown up to a race to learn that one of the CDF athletes will be guided by a professional Ironman Triathlete who appreciates Matt's work so much that he or she said "I want to be a part of this." Matt's group has enabled so many people to have their lives changed. I do not only mean the blind athletes, but also those individuals who volunteer to guide. I can not remember the number of times I have heard from those who have guided who can not stop talking about how rewarding the experience of racing and being the eyes for a blind athlete has been for those athletes. C Different helps blind athletes achieve, but it does so much more than that for everyone else who takes the time to get involved with Matt.
In a few weeks, I will race in the Houston half Marathon as my first event of 2013. As part of the race's charity program, there are many organizations for which people can race and fundraise as part of the Race For A Reason program. One of those non profits is C Different Foundation. Now and for the next few weeks, you can log on to the following site and vote for your favorite charity. The one with the most votes at the conclusion of the voting period will receive $50,000 from Houston race organizers. How many more lives will Matt be able to influence if his CDF could win this award? How many more lives can be impacted in a positive way? Please take the time to log on and have your voice heard for CDF. Thank you!!