Our guest speaker, Karla Gilbride, is a co-founder of the Metro Washington Association of Blind Athletes. After participating in a similar organization in San Francisco after college, she moved to DC and did not find any similar multi-sport clubs for the blind here, so decided to found one of her own with a fellow blind athlete.
Karla spoke movingly about her experiences growing up horseback riding and participating in other sports even though she was not sighted. Since many young blind children have not had the experiences she did, she wanted to start this organization to improve that situation.
The organization’s first event in 2015 was a goalball clinic to help learn the game. This sport was founded by veterans blinded during World War II, and involves a ball with bells on it. Sighted players can also play while blindfolded. The organization offers Judo classes, which is a sport that can easily be adapted to include blind and sighted co-competition. Yoga and tandem biking are two other sports that the organization offers.
The association has also sponsored scholarships for athletes attempting to qualify or train for the Paralympics.
The program is looking for donations so that they can continue to do scholarships, purchase sports equipment, and run tournaments. In the immediate future, they are looking specifically to set up a kickball league and need to purchase the equipment including a ball and bases that make sound.
All in all this was a very informative and dynamic program and we thank Karla for sharing it with us!