Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A guiding light for blind runners

Philadelphia’s Chris Lynch, left, and son Kinzey are part of Team Achilles, which pairs disabled athletes with guides. Father and son competed in the 15K.

SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times

Philadelphia’s Chris Lynch, left, and son Kinzey are part of Team Achilles, which pairs disabled athletes with guides. Father and son competed in the 15K.

TAMPA — Thousands of souls ran from downtown Saturday morning in the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K.

They saw skyscrapers rise up, the river flow under bridges, mansions and palm trees over Bayshore Boulevard, and the sun shine on the finish-line banner.

Two of those souls, Chris Lynch and son Kinzey, are blind, yet didn't miss a detail.

Chris, 44, was born without sight in his right eye, then lost it in his left thanks to a detached retina. And despite heredity playing no part in the process, Kinzey, 21, was born with microphthalmia, which means he will never see anything but minuscule shimmers of light, shadows and color.

They should never compete without a guide, someone who runs alongside tethered in a grip on a 3-foot string.

On Saturday, they ran with old friends from Team Achilles, who traveled with the Lynches from their homes in Philadelphia. It was another in a growing list of races with Achilles, a non-profit group that pairs disabled athletes with guides. It's an organization that pretty much changed the Lynches' lives.

"I decided that I wanted to start running in the seventh grade, so one day I just showed up at cross country practice and went out and started running," Kinzey said. "I had no guide and everybody just left me behind.

But I kept going to practice. It wasn't until my junior year that I found Achilles and then everything started to get better."

From there he moved from starting at the back of the pack to starting at the front — "because in the front I wouldn't have to make my way around all those people that I would pass."

Turns out Kinzey is pretty fast and inspirational, especially after completing a few marathons.

Chris said that when he discovered what his son was doing — "and saw my own belly getting bigger and bigger" — he decided to join the program.

A few years later, Chris (who lost 40 pounds) and Kinzey run together (with Achilles' guides) just about every Saturday. They would run more, but Chris is busy working for Verizon and Kinzey is busy studying business at Drexel University.

Ultimately, Chris said, there is no finish line in their running plans.

"This is something we can share and get better and stronger in the process," he said. "How awesome is that?"

On Saturday, running with guides Cedric Edwards and Rick Cayer, Kinzey finished in one hour, 13.07 minutes (405th place overall). Chris — running with Mark Teschko, Joe Schmidt and Bob Brown — finished in 1:21.42 (969th overall).

As for Tampa and their experience at the Distance Classic, Chris said, "I loved absolutely everything about it."

Added Kinzey: "I would love to come back and run it again."

A guiding light for blind runners

02/25/17 [Last modified: Saturday, February 25, 2017 6:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander

    Bucs

    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  2. Rays journal: Black Snell continues roll in win over Cubs (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was still a game in the fifth inning when LHP Blake Snell walked the leadoff batter, then allowed a single. One swing by the Cubs' Ian Happ (22 home runs) could put a dent in the Rays' three-run lead.

    Blake Snell allows just two hits in pitching seven scoreless innings.
  3. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.

    Figures.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) takes the field to start the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    One success story of this lost season is the emergence of LHP Blake Snell as the frontline starter the Rays projected. After a rough start and two demotions, he has been rolling, Wednesday's solid seven innings making him 4-0, 2.57 in his past eight starts.

  5. Rays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Orioles

    7:05, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    This is a 2017 photo of Matt Andriese of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)