Blind Girl Cycling-Wendy Werthaiser
I am a visually impaired cyclist, middle-school teacher, and proud single parent of three wonderful kids. I began losing my eyesight 20 years ago from a degenerative disease called Cone-Rod Dystrophy. As my eyesight has deteriorated, instead of giving up cycling, I have been lucky enough to begin transitioning to tandem cycling. With the support and love of different tandem pilots, friends, and family, I am now ready to start my dream of competing in Tokyo at the 2020 Para-Olympic Games.
As is the case for anyone with a disability, blindness can be scary and debilitating. It is a struggle to live and flourish in a sighted world. Luckily, my parents raised me to wrestle with all kinds of challenges and grow stronger through them. I try to serve as a role model for my family, my friends, and particularly for my students so they can understand that through struggle, we learn to truly live and appreciate the lives we have.
As a visually impaired teacher, I encounter more than the normal amount of daily challenges. However, I do not allow my disability to get in the way of my passion and desire to be an inspiring teacher and positive role model for my students. Conversely, I've learned that my vision loss can be a gift to my students. On a daily basis, they see me struggle while I find the courage to ask for their help with simple daily tasks such as navigating technology, reading printed material, and simply finding a stack of misplaced papers. They are learning what it is to have compassion for another and support someone who is struggling. I try to be a role model for them and illustrate it is okay to struggle with something, ask for help, and keep working at a challenge. My goal in the classroom is for students to learn that whatever their struggle is, when they ask for help and keep trying, that many of life's best gifts come to us through struggle.
My desire to compete in the 2020 Para-Olympic Games is well beyond a desire to find individual glory. Rather, I want to be an inspiration for anyone who is living with a disability. I want people to see that just because we may be at a disadvantage and have to struggle, we don’t have to settle for something less than what we desire. Making the 2020 Para-Olympic Cycling Team will be tough, but it will be worth the struggle. I cannot do it without your help. For this journey, I need a racing tandem, coaching, and travel resources. Hopefully, you will consider donating so I can continue to be a role model for my students, my community, and my family.