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Monday Motivation: Blind Ambition – A Shout Out to Shawn Cheshire

October 8, 2018

Inspiration for women in sports, women entrepreneurs, females, businesswomen, sportswomen

This is Monday Motivation at its very best, I promise! Today I am proud to share an inspirational female sports story guaranteed to motivate you. It’s about a blind woman attempting to break a world record walking the Grand Canyon rim to rim event October 7th. A blind man did this hike in 28 hours. No blind woman has done it. Guinness World Records wants to mark her time, which she hopes will be 18 or 19 hours. The temperature will approach 100 degrees at the bottom and the elevation change will surpass 10,000 feet. An 18-mile trek follows across the Canyon and leads up the other side of the so-called rim-to-rim hike. Three guides walk with her. One will walk ahead with a bell sounding the way. One will walk behind telling her what’s ahead. The third will rotate in and out of the mix to provide some rest.

This fearless woman’s name is Shawn Cheshire and she isn’t any average woman. Shawn is a military army veteran who lost her eyesight in 2009 when she was working as an emergency medical technician during a snowstorm. She slipped while treating a patient in her ambulance, cracking her skull, damaging the cranial nerve, which caused her vision to deteriorate.

I met Shawn this summer through a request to interview female athletes for a presentation and project I am doing leading up to the 2020 Women’s Suffrage Centennial. The project will shine a light on women in sports, inequalities they face and why we need more women in the seats of women’s sporting events. Along the way I realized how inspirational these women’s sports stories were. Little did I know Shawn started her adventure into sports living only 15 minutes away from my home in Camillus, New York.

I started the interview the way I do with every interviewee, asking how early these women loved sports. Shawn’s answer was atypical to the other women I interviewed because in high school she didn’t like athletics. Her venture into sports started after a freak accident in an ambulance that took her eyesight away. “I was in despair and had no hope. I really didn’t want to live after the accident,” Shawn told me. “I had a daughter in high school and she motivated me to get out of bed each morning and go to the VA in Syracuse where they suggested sports as a therapy to get me moving.” Soon Shawn was partnered with Christie Keno who volunteered to run with her in a 4 mile jog tethered hand-in-hand. Their jog was successful and next thing Shawn was running in the historic “Mountain Goat Race” up and down hills in Syracuse.

After the Mountain Goat Race, Shawn progressed to riding bike tandem with a partner and after only three years became an elite athlete making the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games as a paralympic in 2016. Shawn told me, “I showed up angry, bitter and realized strangers took time to get me on the bike and help me pull my life back together which led me to training for the Olympic Games.”

Shawn hopes anyone in a defeated state of mind due to a major hardship in their lives from a health diagnosis to abusive marriages to bullying situations or even people blind or paralyzed in a real life tragedy, will hear her story and be inspired. My goal in life now is to “inspire people to keep going” no matter their condition.

Today I am proud to celebrate Shawn’s Grand Canyon success with you as you search for motivation on this Monday. To learn more about Shawn, visit her website at

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