I have been competing in the sport of triathlon for ten years now and I have yet to see the guides get any credit or recognition for all that they do. They are the ones that make it possible, but nobody knows their name. In the stat sheets, it is as though they didn’t show up for the race. In my stat sheet they are the star performers. The sport of triathlon can become a very “me centered” sport until you experience it as a guide or a blind athlete. The sport then becomes a team sport. I put a lot of trust in my guide to make the best decisions for both of us. My guide must be accountable for the training and mental preparation required to stay with me the entire race. What do they get out of it? Well, if you’re thinking materialistically than nothing. My guides have sacrificed weekends from their family, personal finances, hours of their free time and the stress that great responsibility brings. All of this to help someone else become the best they can be in something they love. Their impact expands well beyond the sport of triathlon. My guides have been mentors and teachers. They have also been protectors. Most of the time they are heroes! My guides have helped me become better in the sport of triathlon but more importantly they have helped me become better at life! For this I want to honor them for all that they have done.
A few of my guides deserve special recognition. These guides have become my “go to” people. They are the ones that I can always count on to get the job done. They have sacrificed the most for me and I think it is only fair that I give them special recognition.
Matt West has been with me since the beginning. Matt was my first guide and has had to work extremely hard to progress at the rate I have. Matt has invested the most time and emotions into the team we call Team Scheidies. Matt has told me countless times that guiding me is much more important to him than anything he could get from his own triathlon races. Together, Matt West and I have completed over 50 triathlons. One of these triathlon included Ironman Coeur d’Alene in 2005. Ironman is a life changing experience for anyone. Doing Ironman with Matt bonded us into family. Matt has also guided me to three World Championships and recently guided me to a new World Record for a physically challenged athlete in an Olympic distance triathlon at the 2010 Sylvania Triathlon (1:57:21). Matt West is a hero of mine and should be recognized for all that he has unselfishly sacrificed to make us better.
Matt Miller has been the most instrumental figure in providing opportunities for blind and visually impaired individuals in the sport of triathlon. Matt Miller founded the C Different Foundation and has helped over 150 blind individuals have the opportunity to live an active lifestyle. Matt Miller has invested his life into helping blind and visually impaired individuals. In the time I have spent with Matt I have learned so much about what is important in life. Matt Miller has gone out of his way to help me so many times that I can’t even count them. Matt has guided me to two World Championships. In 2006, Matt and I won in Switzerland at the ITU World Championships. More recently, Matt guided me to possibly one of my best performances ever at the 2009 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater (4:18:58). If I can impact as many lives as Matt has over the years than I would be totally satisfied with what I have done on this Earth.
Todd Wiley has guided me in the fewest races with respect to the above two but demonstrates the character of someone that loves life. Todd was a former professional triathlete and now triathlon coach that sought out the opportunity to guide me. Todd has guided me in some of my biggest races including the New York City Triathlon two times and Escape from Alcatraz in 2009. Todd has also been there to guide other blind athletes when a guide was needed at the last minute. He is so fun to race with and helps bring out the inner kid inside me. Later this year, the goal is that Todd and I will get our first World Championship together at Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Just like the two Matt’s (Matt West and Matt Miller), Todd exemplifies the person I want to become.
Again, I want to thank all of my guides for everything they have done. We have done great things together! To learn about all of those that have guided me, click on the below link or go to the “Guide” section of my website. http://www.cdifferentwithaaron.com/Guides.html