LOS ANGELES —
Blind Paralympic cyclist Shawn Cheshire, 43, recently faced her biggest challenge — a rim-to-rim hike through the Grand Canyon.
Cheshire crossed 68 kilometers of steep and uneven terrain, hiking through the night and finishing in 24 hours and 15 minutes — believed to be a record by a blind hiker.
“The last couple of years, I’ve been on this desperate purpose of grasping as much independence as possible,” Cheshire said. “And so for me, being able to walk in the Grand Canyon like that, that’s freedom.”
Cheshire lost her sight after an accident nine years ago and turned to athletics.
“I was in a really dark place and hated being blind.” But she said sports and physical challenges gave her “another opportunity at living.” She competed in the Paralympics in Rio in 2016 and hopes to compete in Tokyo in 2020.
In the meantime, Cheshire was determined to complete this challenging hike.
“I had a huge ball of emotion welled up in my chest — like I cannot believe we just did that — and just (felt) gratitude,” she said.