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Newton Resident Organizes Pasta Dinner for Blind Marathoners

Last year Rosalind Wright was grocery shopping at Whole Foods in Newton when she saw something that made her stop and take notice. She saw people dressed like runners loading up prepared food the night before the Boston Marathon, obviously making ready for their pre-race “carbo loading” dinner. These runners were different, though. They happened to be blind and visually impaired members of Team With A Vision, a group who run the Marathon to raise money for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI). Josh Warren, Annual Giving Manager for Massachusetts Association for the Blind Community Services, was escorting the group that day.

“I overheard them talking about staying at the Carroll School,” Wright relates, “and I felt that, as a resident of the area, we should be offering them some hospitality, so I resolved that I would volunteer to cook them a dinner before the Marathon this year.” The bombings during the Marathon strengthened her resolve to offer the runners a warm welcome in 2014.

Wright learned that the blind and visually impaired runners navigate the Marathon course with the aid of sighted “guides”, also members of Team With A Vision who run alongside them the entire way, often on short, flexible tethers, steering them free of hazards along the way. All the runners are fundraisers, and the Team members are like family members after spending so many hours together, training and racing.

“There were only a handful of runners in Whole Foods last year,” Wright added, “but when I got in touch with Josh and he explained there would be about a hundred people to feed this year, we knew we needed help. I talked with my friend Marianne Jacobbi, who is a fabulous Italian cook, and she also wanted to be a part of this.” That began her recruitment push.

Flash-forward 11 months, and Wright has recruited a large team of volunteers from her close friends and family.

Marianne Jacobbi enlisted her friend, Nora. Wright recruited her husband, Amram Shapiro, and her daughter, Laura Shapiro, who is coming up from Brooklyn to help. Two other friends, Wallace and Mayu DeWitt, have joined the effort. Wallace is a marathoner himself, and just ran the Paris Marathon.

Plans are now underway to cook and serve a pasta dinner this Saturday, April 19th, to about 100 blind and visually impaired marathoners, along with their guides, family, and friends. The neighborhood group will be preparing several different kinds of pasta, along with salad, bread and desserts.

“Most of these runners are a long way from home, and travel a long way to run Boston,” Wright said. “A nice, warm meal is the perfect way to say they’re welcome here.”

Donations may be made to Team With A Vision on their website.

ABOUT MABVI AND TEAM WITH A VISION

Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) is the oldest social service organization in the country that serves adults and elders who are blind or visually impaired. They provide vision rehabilitation services and partner with community and medical groups to create high-impact, cost-effective services. Team With A Vision (TWAV) was established to involve disabled runners in the Boston Marathon, as well as raise funds and awareness for the blind and visually impaired through MABVI. TWAV is an international team of blind, visually impaired, and sighted runners committed to race and raise funds for the cause. 2014 is the Team’s 21st year participating in the Boston Marathon.

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