Blind paralympian hopes to inspire MAPS students

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Students at several Marquette area schools had a special guest Wednesday.

Shawn Cheshire is a former military service member and a retired EMT. But her life was changed forever when a head injury at the age of 33 left her completely blind.

"It was such as low, there was so much sadness. So much loss, that was associated with that. I mean I really had to dig deep within myself to figure out really how I wanted to live my life," Cheshire confessed.

But since then, she hasn't let her disability slow her down. Cheshire says she turned to sports as a way to improve her physical and mental state. Now she's a multi-time national champion paralympian.

"It was a goal that I set for myself that I accomplished because I believed in myself," Cheshire exclaimed.

She also holds the fastest time for a blind person hiking 42 miles of the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim in 24 hours and 15 minutes.

She says coping with the loss of her vision helped her gain a new understanding of life and taught her to never take anything for granted.

"Life can change in the blink of an eye, so make sure that the people you care about, know that you care about them. And the sky is the limit. Whatever you desire or challenge yourself to do, if you just believe in yourself. I believe that you can do it and you have to believe that you can do it," asserted Cheshire.

She also hopes to be an inspiration to others.

"My goal is to be one of the great blind woman adventurers out there and to help inspire, encourage and change people's lives,” Cheshire proclaimed.

For now, she plans to team up with another local inspiration. You may have heard of Kalyn Carr. She's a fourth-grader at Graveraet Elementary in Marquette.

“I want to go into the Olympics for running. It kind of just became something on my to-do list, like brushing your teeth or getting dressed," Carr professed.

So keep an eye out for Carr and Cheshire and be sure to give them plenty of right-of-way if you see them out for one of their runs.

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