Blind Wichita woman overcomes running barriers, competes in races

Positive Connections

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita woman is pushing fear to the curb one step at a time.

Anne Cyboron, 38, considers herself a well-rounded and smart individual. However, she will be the first to admit she often feels judged.

“You don’t always necessarily get treated as an intelligent, functioning person when the first thing they see is a white cane,” said Cyboron.

Cyboron has two eye conditions.

“One is called Retinitis pigmentosa. That includes tunnel vision, night blindness, and color blindness. I also have glaucoma. That will include a little bit of blurriness and also some tunnel vision,” she explained.

The Nebraska native can see some shapes, but it is difficult for her to make out anything specific. At one point, Cyboron said she let her conditions dictate her life.

“Twelve years ago, 13 years ago, I was very depressed, I was sleeping 12 to 20 hours-a-day. I wasn’t leaving the house. I was living with my parents,” she said.

That’s when Cyboron said she found Envision in Wichita. She started working and she started building confidence.

Recently, her confidence led her to the sport of running. That and her Facebook friend’s feed about the races he had competed in.

“The thing that really got my attention was the post-race meals that he would post pictures of,” laughed Cyboron. “So like there’s cheesecakes and there’s crepes and there is steak and I am going, ‘Oh wait, I get the connection. I can eat if I run maybe!'”

Cyboron started walking and jogging in the fall of 2019. The more she ran, the more she wanted to keep running.

“It’s exciting. I have always been an explorer. If I could drive, I would probably never be home, so this kind of fills that need that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to fill on my own,” she said.

A couple of months later, Cyboron joined Fleet Feet of Wichita’s running community where she was introduced to her running partner and guide Beth Bowdoin.

“Turns out, we have a lot more in common than running. We got along fantastically on our first run. She is an amazing guide. Very, very good, very detailed, exactly what you would want for a guide,” Cyboron said.

“She empowers me. She empowers me not only in my training but also in my everyday life that I live, the people I interact with. She has taught me so much,” said Bowdoin.

Bowdoin and Cyboron ran together at least once a week before COVID-19. Cyboron said she is grateful for Bowdin and the Fleet Feet community.

“It’s been an amazing experience and that doesn’t happen without a guide. Without a guide, I am left standing at the start line going, ‘I don’t know where to go.'” she explained.

Cyboron’s message to the Wichita community is simple: give back and you will be rewarded.

“By saying yes you open doors not only for the person who is asking but for yourself as well,” Cyboron said. “Don’t think about it. Do it.”

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