Society Runs the Extra Mile

As top runners from across the world gathered to race the California International Marathon last month, Society for the Blind was honored to have several of our friends playing important roles.

One of our optometrists, Dr. Monica Rodriguez-Bayes, and our board member Marlene Mourtzikos served as guides for blind runners in the marathon.

Dr. Rodriguez-Bayes ran as a guide for Shannon Dillon and recently told the Folsom Telegraph, “Guiding is a perfect mix of my hobby and my passion for helping those with visual impairment.” She began running local races 10 years ago and ran her first marathon five years ago.

Mourtzikos has been a sighted guide for two years in a row next to Joe Ramiro Contreras, a Vietnam veteran with the U.S. Marine Corps. “I have met so many older veterans who used to be runners but gave it up once they started to lose their vision,” she said. “It gives me tremendous gratification to be able to help someone get back to doing what he or she loves.”

Our board member Tracy Kinoshita of the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) served as timekeeper for the Paralympic portion of the marathon. Society for the Blind was honored at the annual USABA dinner the night before the marathon for hosting a special dinner for athletes and guides every year for the past five years.

Society for the Blind is committed to ensuring that people continue to live active lifestyles with vision impairment – it was great to have our community come together for this event!

Left to right: Dr. Rodriguez-Bayes, Shari Roeseler, Marlene Mourtzikos, Tracy Kinoshita