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Vision Australia team to take on City2Surf

26 July 2017

Vision Australia’s colours and logo will be proudly displayed during this year’s City2Surf, with a team of 10 people from the leading blindness and low vision service provider set to take on the annual event.

The Vision Australia team will take to the 14 kilometre course on Sunday 13 August that runs from Sydney’s CBD to Bondi with the aim of raising awareness about Vision Australia and also funds to support the blind and low vision community.

Organised by Vision Australia Service Engagement Consultant Kathy Fela, the team is made up from people across numerous departments at Vision Australia.

“When I first had the idea I wanted to do something to bring people from across the organisation together and I thought the City2Surf would be a good way of doing that,” Kathy said.

“It’s also a great opportunity for us to get Vision Australia’s name in front of thousands of people and raise awareness about what we do to support the blind and low vision community. If we can raise some money for the organisation as well, then that’s another positive,” she said.

VA City2Surf Team Members Mark Meintjes, Michelle Emond, Anita Reynolds and Kathy Fela
Along with raising the profile of Vision Australia, Kathy said Vision Australia’s presence in the event will also help to break stereotypes about the sorts of activities people who are blind or have low vision can participate in.

Kathy and fellow team member Mark Meintjes live with low vision as a result of Stargardt’s Disease, which is a form of macular degeneration. Both of them have completed the City2Surf multiple times.

“I’ve run it six times. I think the last time I did it was around three years ago, I’ve thought about doing it again over the last couple of years but I’ve had a broken ankle and few other things that have kept me out,” Mark said.

Mark still has much of his peripheral vision, but does face some challenges around depth perception, meaning he sometimes “sees with his feet.”

“Before I started working at Vision Australia I was a client and received a lot of support from Vision Australia as I got used to what my vision loss meant for me. I’m at the point now where I don’t need a whole lot of support any more.

“My peripheral vision is pretty good which helps, but my depth perception can sometimes make it hard to tell if the ground is flat. Because of that I’ll sometimes run with a bit of different gait so I can use my feet to tell if there’s any hazards ahead of me which I call seeing with my feet.”

VA City2Surf team members Mark Meintjes, Michelle Emond, Anita Rynolds and Kathy Fela

Kathy’s vision loss is more severe than Mark’s and she will run the City2Surf course with the assistance of running guides from the Achilles Club. Having first run the City2Surf in the early 2000s, Kathy can’t remember how many times she’s now done the event. Despite that she still encounters a familiar response when telling people about her involvement.

“A lot of people still don’t believe that I’m able to do something like this. They’re genuinely shocked when I tell them about it,” she said.

“I do use the support of guides like those from the Achilles Club, but I think that shows if you want to do something there’s a way to do it and I think that’s an important message that we can hopefully spread this year.”

To support the efforts of the Vision Australia City2Surf team, head to our donation page here and leave a message acknowledging the team if you choose to donate.

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