For the most part, I try to keep my eyes looking forward because if we are always looking back, we may miss great opportunities ahead.  Every so often though it is important to look back at memories to avoid taking for granted the opportunities  we've had in our past.  People tell me that they are sorry to hear what  I've had to go through with the loss of my vision.  I would be lying to say there weren't hard times and changes to be made in my life but I will say that I've been blessed to be blind/VI.  Looking back at the memories from the below photos tells the story of opportunity that I've had as a result of who I am.  Take a short ride with me to look at some of the great opportunities  and successes that I've had over my athletic career. Again, these opportunities have been amazing a life changing.  I do not mention any of these to be boastful or prideful but rather for people to realize that when you maximize your potential as a human being and you always bring energy and passion to what you do, you will be granted opportunity and you will have success!

A PHOTO JOURNEY

2002 ITU World Championships: My first guide  ever (Matt West) and I strolled by the Bimbo Chicks (girls in red and white outfits) to capture our first World Championship.  It was a sweltering hot day in Cancun and I wasn't event even old enough to have a  few drinks to celebrate. Yes, I was really that young when this all started!!!

Michigan State Triathlon Club:  Coaching up the MSU Triathlon Club which was my little baby at Michigan State.  Everyone looking at this picture, trust me its not an all guys club.  There were plenty of good looking ladies on the team  as well.  They just must have missed this practice. Go Green!!! 

Michigan State Triathlon Club:  Coaching up the MSU Triathlon Club which was my little baby at Michigan State.  Everyone looking at this picture, trust me its not an all guys club.  There were plenty of good looking ladies on the team  as well.  They just must have missed this practice. Go Green!!! 

In 2004, I was inducted into the Athletes With A Disability Hall of Fame.  Former MLB pitcher Jim Abbott spoke and inducted the class of inductees into this very group that gets selected for this honor.  

In 2004, I was inducted into the Athletes With A Disability Hall of Fame.  Former MLB pitcher Jim Abbott spoke and inducted the class of inductees into this very group that gets selected for this honor.  

In 2004, Levi's ran a campaign out of Europe on how their jeans feel as opposed to how they look.  I was given an amazing opportunity to be a part of this ad campaign which ran in GQ and Esquire UK. 

In 2004, Levi's ran a campaign out of Europe on how their jeans feel as opposed to how they look.  I was given an amazing opportunity to be a part of this ad campaign which ran in GQ and Esquire UK. 

In 2004, I was invited to do the Honolulu Triathlon and was able to speak with the kids at the Honolulu School for the Blind.  This kid wants to be the next World Champion.  He got a few good tips from me so people better watch out!

In 2004, I was invited to do the Honolulu Triathlon and was able to speak with the kids at the Honolulu School for the Blind.  This kid wants to be the next World Champion.  He got a few good tips from me so people better watch out!

The 2005 Ironman Coeur d'Alene marked my one and only Ironman.  It was a roller coaster ride that led to many scares with my health but it was one of the most amazing days of my life as well.  I learned a lot about becoming resilient on that day that will stick with me forever. Guide Matt West and I definitely had a lot of time to bond and build a great friendship.

The 2005 Ironman Coeur d'Alene marked my one and only Ironman.  It was a roller coaster ride that led to many scares with my health but it was one of the most amazing days of my life as well.  I learned a lot about becoming resilient on that day that will stick with me forever. Guide Matt West and I definitely had a lot of time to bond and build a great friendship.

Fresh off doing our first Ironman and then a week later doing the NYC Triathlon some of my favorite blind/VI peeps and I went rowing in Central Park.  Charlie Plaskon (center) who has the same condition I have , is the exact spitting image of who I want to be when I'm 70yrs old.  Lindsey Jessup (Left) is like the ideal "American Girl". 

Fresh off doing our first Ironman and then a week later doing the NYC Triathlon some of my favorite blind/VI peeps and I went rowing in Central Park.  Charlie Plaskon (center) who has the same condition I have , is the exact spitting image of who I want to be when I'm 70yrs old.  Lindsey Jessup (Left) is like the ideal "American Girl". 

In celebration of National Disability Month I was invited by NASA to come speak at the Kennedy Space Center and even got a chance to go out on the launch pad.  This is the last full on shuttle that they would be launching into space in history.  The launch took place three days after I spoke.  Very few get within miles of the launch pad.  I am very fortunate to have had this opportunity.  

In celebration of National Disability Month I was invited by NASA to come speak at the Kennedy Space Center and even got a chance to go out on the launch pad.  This is the last full on shuttle that they would be launching into space in history.  The launch took place three days after I spoke.  Very few get within miles of the launch pad.  I am very fortunate to have had this opportunity.  

At the Lifetime Fitness Dallas Open Triathlon I met a major benchmark in triathlon and fulfilled one of my goals in breaking down barriers for people with disabilities.    Guided by star triathlete Ben Collins, I broke the 2hr mark in an Olympic distance triathlon, crossing the line in 1:59:36.  This marked the first time any paratriathlete had ever broken the 2hr barrier at this distance.   I have since went under 2hr several other times but this was an amazing day even though I look like I might die in the photo. :)

At the Lifetime Fitness Dallas Open Triathlon I met a major benchmark in triathlon and fulfilled one of my goals in breaking down barriers for people with disabilities.    Guided by star triathlete Ben Collins, I broke the 2hr mark in an Olympic distance triathlon, crossing the line in 1:59:36.  This marked the first time any paratriathlete had ever broken the 2hr barrier at this distance.   I have since went under 2hr several other times but this was an amazing day even though I look like I might die in the photo. :)

The 2009 ITU World Championships were in Gold Coast Australia. Rocking our wristbands and headbands, we were the "Thunder Down Under" and helped boost Team USA's medal count.  This was the 3rd World Championship that Matt West had guided me to.  We had many fans and supporters to celebrate this one with despite being halfway across the world.

The 2009 ITU World Championships were in Gold Coast Australia. Rocking our wristbands and headbands, we were the "Thunder Down Under" and helped boost Team USA's medal count.  This was the 3rd World Championship that Matt West had guided me to.  We had many fans and supporters to celebrate this one with despite being halfway across the world.

In one of my greatest all around performances ever at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, FL guide Todd Wiley and I crossed the line in a time of 4:09:54.  This was the fastest time ever by any paratriathlete at the Half Ironman distance.

In one of my greatest all around performances ever at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, FL guide Todd Wiley and I crossed the line in a time of 4:09:54.  This was the fastest time ever by any paratriathlete at the Half Ironman distance.

At the 2010 Paratriathlon National Championships on a very emotional day, 30 other blind/VI athletes and I protested against the unfair and inhumane use of "Blackout Glasses" required that all blind/VI participants wear during the run portion of the triathlon.  The fight would end in a legal battle and for the next 3yrs I forfeited racing at any World Championships or any races that enforced this rule.  In the picture above guide Matt West and I walked the run portion of the race in protest and for my safety.  The rule has since been removed and we won the legal battle.   

At the 2010 Paratriathlon National Championships on a very emotional day, 30 other blind/VI athletes and I protested against the unfair and inhumane use of "Blackout Glasses" required that all blind/VI participants wear during the run portion of the triathlon.  The fight would end in a legal battle and for the next 3yrs I forfeited racing at any World Championships or any races that enforced this rule.  In the picture above guide Matt West and I walked the run portion of the race in protest and for my safety.  The rule has since been removed and we won the legal battle.   

Everyone that knows me knows that every day I wake up and tell myself "Its a Great day to be a Spartan"   Well in 2010 I was so honored to be chosen as the Distinguished Young Alumni at the Grand Awards Ceremony  during Homecoming weekend. Here I am with  MSU Alumni President Scott Westerman receiving the award. The Spartans won that weekend on a historic game winning Hale Mary that Keith Nichols reached across the goal line for the win!

Everyone that knows me knows that every day I wake up and tell myself "Its a Great day to be a Spartan"   Well in 2010 I was so honored to be chosen as the Distinguished Young Alumni at the Grand Awards Ceremony  during Homecoming weekend. Here I am with  MSU Alumni President Scott Westerman receiving the award. The Spartans won that weekend on a historic game winning Hale Mary that Keith Nichols reached across the goal line for the win!

In 2011 I was a finalist for the ESPY for Best Male Athlete with a Disability.  Here's my now fiancé Brittney Paisley, original guide Matt West and I on the red carpet in Hollywood just before the awards.  The one-legged wrestler from Arizona State Anthony Robles won the award but don't worry, I'll be back!!! :) 

In 2011 I was a finalist for the ESPY for Best Male Athlete with a Disability.  Here's my now fiancé Brittney Paisley, original guide Matt West and I on the red carpet in Hollywood just before the awards.  The one-legged wrestler from Arizona State Anthony Robles won the award but don't worry, I'll be back!!! :) 

The 2013 Boston Marathon will never be forgotten.  Everyone looks back and remembers where they were on April 15, 2013.  I was right there in Boston as seen above with guide Ryan Irwin.  I had my best marathon that day finishing in 2:44:34.  Less than two hours later, the country would be shaken up forever.  We were just leaving a nearby parking garage when the bombs went off but it was a scary day for everyone in the city of Boston that day.  Runners keep running though and the 2014 Boston Marathon was the largest and most sought after marathon to do ever! #RunOn

The 2013 Boston Marathon will never be forgotten.  Everyone looks back and remembers where they were on April 15, 2013.  I was right there in Boston as seen above with guide Ryan Irwin.  I had my best marathon that day finishing in 2:44:34.  Less than two hours later, the country would be shaken up forever.  We were just leaving a nearby parking garage when the bombs went off but it was a scary day for everyone in the city of Boston that day.  Runners keep running though and the 2014 Boston Marathon was the largest and most sought after marathon to do ever! #RunOn

The 2013 ITU World Championships in London marked the first time ever I had been beaten in my category in Paratriathlon.  This was a very good thing because it showed that the competition level was significantly improving and it made me hungrier than ever to get my title back in 2014.  Failure is good because it teaches you how to succeed the next time.  

The 2013 ITU World Championships in London marked the first time ever I had been beaten in my category in Paratriathlon.  This was a very good thing because it showed that the competition level was significantly improving and it made me hungrier than ever to get my title back in 2014.  Failure is good because it teaches you how to succeed the next time.  

I love when I get opportunities to go to schools for the blind & visually impaired and get to talk to and play with the kids.  Last year I hung out with the kids in Kansas City at the Children's Center for the Visually Impaired before the annual Trolley Run and it was awesome.  I even got to take a run loop with them around their school. I was guided by one of the VI kids, it was AWESOME!!!

I love when I get opportunities to go to schools for the blind & visually impaired and get to talk to and play with the kids.  Last year I hung out with the kids in Kansas City at the Children's Center for the Visually Impaired before the annual Trolley Run and it was awesome.  I even got to take a run loop with them around their school. I was guided by one of the VI kids, it was AWESOME!!!

I have done the New York City Triathlon 10 times over the years but that is not the best event that goes on each year on this weekend.  The NYC Underwear Run is much more important than the triathlon.  The costume for the Underwear run is crucial.  In 2014, Brittney, RET and I went as sailors.  Naked Cowboy also always joins the event and serenades everyone with his raunchy tunes.

I have done the New York City Triathlon 10 times over the years but that is not the best event that goes on each year on this weekend.  The NYC Underwear Run is much more important than the triathlon.  The costume for the Underwear run is crucial.  In 2014, Brittney, RET and I went as sailors.  Naked Cowboy also always joins the event and serenades everyone with his raunchy tunes.

The 2014 ITU World Championships in Edmonton could have quite possibly been the greatest all around race I have had in my career.  It was also probably the most important race in my career at the time.  With the Rio Paralympics coming soon and after being beat the previous year in London, I was hungry for my title back.  Guide Colin Riley had a near flawless day and we brought home a World Title for Team USA!

The 2014 ITU World Championships in Edmonton could have quite possibly been the greatest all around race I have had in my career.  It was also probably the most important race in my career at the time.  With the Rio Paralympics coming soon and after being beat the previous year in London, I was hungry for my title back.  Guide Colin Riley had a near flawless day and we brought home a World Title for Team USA!

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