I know many will be reading this, but this is intended to be a letter from me to you. As the newest elected member to serve on the National Federation of the Blind Board of Directors, I’d like to take a moment to share a little about me, and why I do what I do. You see, there are many people out there who just don’t understand how I can choose to give so much of myself, my time, my energy, and my resources to the National Federation of the Blind without getting anything in return. It is my hope that after reading this, that you understand that what I get is immeasurable and could never be quantified in a number. It is my hope that after reading this, you too choose to give to the National Federation of the Blind.
My name is Terri Rupp, married to Aaron Rupp, and mom to an eight year old boy named Jackson, 10 year old girl named Marley, and a 12 year old stinky bulldog named Mickey. We look like your average family living in the suburbs. Dad works as a fire fighter, while mom stays home with the kids. For many years, this mom ran a neighborhood mommy group, welcoming moms and kids inside for playdates over coffee. I’d like to do the same for you. Please come inside, take your shoes off, grab yourself a mug, and let me tell you a story. Take a few minutes to read this blog post, join the fun, and share the love.
Before Lacing Up My Shoes
My first memory of realizing I couldn’t see like the other kids around me was on this little carpet square in my kindergarten class. My nose was literally in the book, and a little boy put his face into his own book and asked, “Why do you read like this?” That was the beginning of learning to fake it.
I grew up in a traditional Cambodian home where we did not talk about my blindness. After immigrating to the United States when I was a toddler and not knowing the language, my parents found themselves searching for answers about my eyesight. They used teenage family members as translators during many doctors’ visits up and down California. Some said my eyesight would come back, and others said I would eventually lose it all. All my family understood was that their little girl had a rare eye condition that couldn’t be fixed, but I had enough to fake it during my school years.
I pretended to do my schoolwork in class, then spent hours in the evenings at home actually doing it with my face pressed into the pages with the help of my handy magnifier that eventually turned into a huge CCTV taking up half of the desk in my bedroom. It became too much. I found myself almost failing out of school, not able to find work, and constantly walking into poles and falling down steps. Finally, the folding cane hidden in my closet came out, and I started connecting with blind peers. However, I still went back and forth. One day I was at the top of three steps talking to two blind women about their color coordinated outfits, and telling them about my cute yellow heels. They had their canes, and I did not. I found myself tumbling down the steps. That tumble was a pivotal moment for me.
Hitting the Pavement
There have been many more tumbles since that initial one in those yellow shoes, but I attended training, got more involved, and no longer fake who I am. Thanks to the support, mentorship, and love of the National Federation of the Blind, getting back up again isn’t lonely because there are people to lean on. I also leaned on my Federation family when learning that my own little girl would grow up with the same eye condition as me. Unlike the fear and false hope my own parents faced, though we knew there may be a few rocks in the road, we also knew that the rocks could easily be climbed over, kicked aside, or removed completely if you’ve got the tools and are wearing the right shoes.
Armed with tools like Braille, a long white cane, the skills to self-advocate, and strength and support built on the foundation of generations of blind people who have come before us, children like that little kindergartener on the carpet square have the potential to shoot for the moon and go beyond the stars. The possibilities are endless—like me being a runner.
Never in a million years would the younger me have believed it possible I would be called an athlete, let alone a marathon runner, until I met my support team who would back me up. That team was my Achilles Las Vegas Guides. A big dream was broken down into measurable goals all wrapped up in a pretty training plan. The dream became a reality with tears in our eyes as we crossed the finish line at the 2018 Las Vegas Rock N’ Roll Marathon. Imagine the dreams blind children will dream with the right guidance, resources, and team.
For the Love of Running
Along with shoes and other passions, my little girl and I also share the love of running. Last October, while running my second marathon, she joined me for a few miles. This Valentine’s Day, she’ll get to join me for a few more. I’ll be running a few more too.
Thanks to Beyond Limits Running and Achilles Las Vegas, I have committed to completing my first 50K at the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival on February 14, 2020. That is 31.07 miles, which is more than a marathon. And if I can do something as big as running 50K, then why not make it bigger than just a run?
Lace up your shoes and join me in raising $50,000 for the National Federation of the Blind.
You don’t literally need to lace up your shoes and run, but I invite you to help me reach this dream of $50K for the Federation while running a 50K. Be a part of supporting blind children with big dreams with the love and guidance from the Federation team.
Make a Donation Today!
Please contribute to my run fundraiser by making an online donation and adding #RunForNFB to the contribution note. Your support is greatly appreciated. Together with love, hope, and determination, we transform dreams into reality.
Whole Heartedly Yours,