Advertisement
  1. Sports

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.
Published Feb. 25, 2017

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."

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Florida State Seminoles running back Cam Akers (3) runs the ball down the field in the second quarter against the Florida Gators at Doak Campbell Stadium at Florida State University in Tallahassee on Saturday, November 24, 2018. BRONTE WITTPENN  | TIMES  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES
    How healthy will Cam Akers be? What about Jabari Zuniga?
  2. Eagles' Zach Ertz, right, tries to slip past the Patriots' Danny Shelton during Sunday's game. MICHAEL PEREZ  |  AP
    Plus, Ravens rolling, AFC South tightens and Cowboys surge -- on the road to Miami Gardens.
  3. Monday Night Football and more sports on the air.
  4. Even if Bucs players and coaches don't know it, the fans do. They've seen this movie too many times before. Since 2013, the Bucs have averaged 3.3 wins at the 10-game point of the season. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    John Romano | It’s not just the 3-7 record, it’s the helter-skelter way Tampa Bay plays that makes this a good time to start planning for the holidays and the NFL draft.
  5. Though only 10 games into the season, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has already matched his career high with 18 interceptions. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Rick Stroud | Jameis Winston threw his 18th interception Sunday, the last while playing on a bad ankle. Are the Bucs on the last leg?
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard (80) loses the ball on a hit by New Orleans Saints free safety Marcus Williams (43) during the first quarter of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, November 17, 2019, in Tampa. The ball was recovered by New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Demario Davis (56) for an interception. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A critical plan slipped through the hands of Tampa Bay’s former first-round pick early in the Bucs’ 34-17 loss to New Orleans Sunday. But is more at stake?
  7. Buccaneers fan Heather Chase, of Tampa, is surrounded by Saints fans during the first quarter of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, November 17, 2019, in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The Bucs saw a larger crowd Sunday for their 34-17 loss to New Orleans Saints, but largely because of Saints fans.
  8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) makes a catch in front of New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams (26) and free safety Marcus Williams (43) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio) MARK LOMOGLIO  |  AP
    The Bucs converted a key fourth down in the fourth quarter, only to have it called back.
  9. Game story in six words: Saints are good. Bucs are not. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Thomas Bassinger: The 20-0 deficit sealed the Bucs’ fate far more than Jameis Winston’s pick-six.
  10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) works to catch New Orleans Saints strong safety Vonn Bell (24) during the second quarter of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, November 17, 2019, in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Instant analysis: Tampa Bay fell behind 20-0 and never really challenged.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement