Post Title:  Becky Andrews: Runner, Tandem Cyclist, Activist.

Becky Andrews is a two-time Boston Marathon runner, a competitive tandem cyclist, a professional counselor with her own thriving business, an author, an award-winning educator, speaker and advocate for women with vision loss. She’s also blind herself – from a condition my readers are all too familiar with – Retinitis Pigmentosa.

With all these accomplishments behind her, it would be easy to feel intimidated. But instead, Becky focuses on others, and living a “bountiful” life (a little pun as she hails from Bountiful, Utah). Her demeanor is warm and inviting.

I met Becky about eight years ago, after I published my first book. We became acquainted through the RP Family Support group. She was getting ready to run the Boston Marathon for the first time. She had posted her goal of running the Boston Marathon to psyche herself and others. She was counting down the days until the race. I remember being excited for her and asker her if I could feature her in my new Friday Friends column.

As our communities begin to open up from the wintry, closed-in feel of Covid-19, I thought it appropriate to re-start my column (now featured on the last Friday of every month) with a reminder to give ourselves space to remember the longings of our hearts and to pursue them.
Here is that post.

Running the Boston Marathon..

A Dream Come True.

Becky Andrews at the finish lineApril 20, 2015.  It was a dream come true.  I was at the Boston Marathon with nearly 30,000 other runners.  There were 40 blind/visually impaired competitors, including 25 from our Team with a Vision.

Excitement was in the air. It was raining and chilly, and I’d been up for hours, yet my heart was warm with anticipation and gratitude for this moment. As a visually-impaired runner, I could have one guide on the course with me.  Brenda would begin the course and Suzette would run the second half. I felt tears coming to my eyes as Brenda and I approached the starting line and the announcer said, “Welcome to the Boston Marathon…”

I stayed near Brenda as we began to run. It was so crowded with all the runners that we ran “sighted guide.” We began to get in a stride and I reflected further on this amazing experience. So much work had led to this moment including three marathons I had already run to qualify for Boston. There had been injuries along the way, including a broken foot, a broken toe and an IT Band injury. My guides and I had completed weeks of preparation and juggled work and family schedules to meet the commitments of long runs.

I loved hearing the sound of the runners’ feet hitting the pavement – that collective sound of individual training and preparation.  People were cheering from the sidelines – “You got this,” they called, “Thank you for coming to Boston. You can do this!”  It was inspiring to hear so many people cheering for others – most of whom they did not know.

Take Each Challenge as it Comes.

When I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa almost 32 years ago, it felt like many doors were closing in my life. I felt overwhelmed and frightened, but learned to take each challenge as it came.

I thought about my journey of vision loss and how much it had been like a marathon.  Take it a step at a time.  Prepare as much as you can.  There will be times of hitting a ‘wall’ and feeling overwhelmed.  Be open-minded.  Listen to your heart. Have faith. Find the people around that will you support you and cheer you on.  Keep going. The victories will come.

As we continued to run, the rain changed from a drizzle to a downpour, back to a drizzle with some wind. We were making good time as the miles clicked by. We navigated through the runners to reach our pace. Brenda guided me as we ran. “To your right, diagonal to the left,” she’d say as we weaved through other runners and enjoyed the journey. We soon realized navigating through the puddles was impossible.

Music played from speakers along the course. At one point in the run we heard the song, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. When I had been training with my third guide dog, Georgie, the year prior, this song had been playing in the van each morning as we waited to go on our route. I couldn’t help but smile to think of my Georgie and I felt such gratitude for all three of my guide dogs: Pantera, Cricket, and Georgie, who have helped me navigate safely for the past 18 years. Literally, being able to walk safely again helped me believe that I could run again, too.

Becky Andrews with a Tether

A tether is used to connect a runner and a guide

The crowd of runners had thinned as Suzette and I began to run, so we were able to use the tether. Suzette was not only running as my eyes but also supporting me as I began to feel some physical fatigue of the marathon journey. She offered some Gatorade, water, or other energy food. As we ran, Suzette described what was around us – beautiful homes, signs from spectators, and other landmarks along the journey.

So Good, So Good.

At mile 15, Neil Diamond’s, “Sweet Caroline” was playing. Just two nights before, my family and I had enjoyed a baseball game at Fenway Park and had sung this song with the crowd. As we continued to run, I sang the words in my head, as I’m sure many other runners were doing, too.  As we reached the point in the song, “So Good, So Good, So Good,“ we all sang out together. This was so good. I reflected on how hard times such as running a marathon bring such blessings and great experiences as well. I found myself again thinking about the journey of losing my vision from Retinitis Pigmentosa. The lessons, experiences, blessings, friendships have far outweighed the loss.

Near mile 24 on the crest of a hill we had stopped to walk for a minute when, we heard our support team calling our names. They lifted my spirits and reminded me that I could get to that finish line. As we rounded the corner to run on Boylston Street to the finish line, the joy of the moment surpassed the exhaustion and physical pain I was feeling. I had run the Boston Marathon. I was wet and cold but my heart was warm and grateful for those who had shared it with me.

***

B I O.    

A photo of Becky and Georgie, her guide dog Becky Andrews is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor with a master’s degree from Utah State University and further training from the University of Utah. She is also one of three Fellow Thanatologists in Utah. Her passion is helping others navigate through difficult challenges in their lives. After working at the Moran Eye Center and LDS Family Services for several years, Becky, with her husband, Steve, build Resilient Solutions, Inc in 2006.  Resilient Solutions employs 15 therapists.   In 2014 they established a nonprofit: The Oasis Center for Hope with the mission to help individuals, families and communities who are experiencing a loss.

Becky is following her dreams blindly. Literally. At the age of 18, as a freshman in college, she was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa.  She is currently accompanied by her third guide dog, Georgie.

She serves as chair of the national alumni board for Guide Dogs for the Blind, is past president of the Utah Chapter of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, and a frequent presenter on finding your personal resilience. Becky is passionate about advocating for people with disabilities and has conducted numerous trainings to schools, corporations, and communities. She was voted Wasatch Woman of the Year in 2011. In 2013 she received the American Mothers National Mother of Achievement Award in New York City. She has tandem biked thousands of miles with her husband, Steve. After rediscovering her love of running with the help of dear friends who serve as her guides, she has run four marathons including the NYC Marathon and the Boston Marathon just a few weeks ago.

Steve and Becky were married 31 years ago. They have a daughter, Natalie, and son, Kendall.

To learn more about and connect with Becky, check out these links:

Becky Peterson Andrews
Resilient Solutions, Inc 
Oasis Center for Hope
blindresilience.com/blog
Cruisinwithcricket.blogspot.com
georgiesvision.blogspot.com
www.resilientsolutionsinc.com

If you’d like to run as a visually impaired runner, join our community at: unitedinstride.com

Since that initial Friday Friends post, I have gotten to know Becky on various levels and seen her in person. We share a similar author journey and cheer each other on. A few months after my mother passed away, I attended her Dare to Tell Your Story retreat for vision impaired women. This helped me during a challenging time in my life. Again, she cheered me on. Together, we are “daring sisters,” daring each other to live out our dreams and goals.

Who do you turn to when you want to articulate your dreams and receive encouragement?

You have just read “Friday Friends Spotlight on Becky Andrews” by Amy L. Bovaird. © June 26, 2020. All rights reserved.

Get Your Copy of Mobility Matters Today!

Purchase audio copy
Purchase kindle or paperback

MOBILITY MATTERS Book Cover

Purchase audio copy
Purchase kindle or paperback

TESTIMONIALS:

5 Stars “…I’m not vision impaired. I don’t read non-fiction for enjoyment. I am not what some might consider the target market for this book, but I can tell you that I would recommend it to my own teenagers, my husband, my teenage students, and anyone else I know as a book of bravery, encouragement, motivation, testimony, and just as a pleasure read. Don’t pass it by: You will be blessed.”–An Amazon Reader

–An Amazon Reader

5 Stars   “Living in the Power instead of the fear!”

Mobility Matters elegantly shares Amy Bovaird’s emotions and experience which anyone going through vision loss can identify with. The transformation as she overcomes her fear and the enemies voices that her loss of vision will now define who she is as a person and dictate the rest of her life, will inspire hope to each reader. Amy’s journey stepping out in faith and how the Lord’s Word gave her the strength to keep going, is a must read.

This book is not only for those going through the hallway of vision loss, but for each family member or any one who loves someone losing their vision would also benefit by reading.

Mobility Matters Stepping out in Faith has left me thinking I will now call canes power sticks!!!

Michael Benson, Founder
Visual Experience Foundation

Michael Benson, Founder, Visual Experience Foundation

4 Stars  “…As a mobility specialist myself, I found this book of great interest to me for its subject matter. I was quite amazed that Amy could get around on her own with her genetic condition, particularly at night, since individuals with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) tend to lose their night vision and are using a cane at night much sooner than Amy was using any assistive device (even a bright light). Amy maintained her positive attitude, her faith and her sense of humour. If only we all could do that in times of crisis!” –Kathryn Svendsen, Mobility Specialist, Canada

–Kathryn Svendsen

5 Stars  “Couldn’t stop reading until I finished. Very inspirational. Will definitely be looking for more by this author!” –Sharon Hannah

–Sharon Hannah

5 stars “…This book really inspired me. Amy’s outlook on life is what I would like to model in my own. Yes, going blind SUCKS but she took it to another level. She made it into an adventure and I needed to be reminded of that again. Her positive outlook on this all has really encouraged me in my current situation now. Taking the step of faith to move on forward and embrace life for what it is. I highly recommend purchasing this book! Be inspired, take a journey behind the life of someone with Usher, smile, laugh, and enjoy! –Andi Nicole

–Andi Nicole

5 Stars “As a person who lives with chronic illness, I sometimes get bogged down with books on illness that feel really heavy. This one does not. Author Amy Bovaird, who is losing her sight, writes so well about her personal experiences, I feel like I’m walking alongside her as I read. I kept coming back to the story to see what happened–was she going to let fear stop her? Would she overcome?
The lessons Amy learns through her experiences apply to any of us who fear aging, illness, new symptoms, or really anyone who needs some inspiration, and that reminder that much can be accomplished if you step out and forward–even when you cannot see beyond that first step. I definitely enjoyed this book. –Kimberly Rae, Bestselling Author of the Stolen Series

–Kimberly Rae, Your Content Goes Here

Blog post review by Gillian Davis, RP Tunnel of Sight
One of the best books I have ever read about mobility and white cane use is called Mobility Matters: Stepping out in Faith by Amy Bovard. It is funny, poignant and packs a lot of tips and useful information. You can find it by following the link below to Amy’s web page and listen to a chapter before you buy, it is wonderful.

Gillian Davis, RP Tunnel of Sight

Purchase audio copy
Purchase kindle or paperback

If You Enjoyed or Received Value From This Post, Please Share!