Blind woman’s coast-to-coast bike ride stops in Roanoke

Published: Jul. 11, 2021 at 4:39 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - A U.S. Army veteran and former paramedic who lost her sight is breaking social barriers and stigmas for the blind.

Shawn Cheshire made a stop in Roanoke Sunday morning while cycling from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Ocean.

The epic ride from sea to shining sea began May 17 in Florence, Oregon, when Cheshire started a roughly 3,800-mile journey biking to Virginia Beach, totally blind.

A map displaying Cheshire's route to Virginia Beach.
A map displaying Cheshire's route to Virginia Beach.(WDBJ)

“I lost my vision from a traumatic brain injury while working as a paramedic in the back of an ambulance. I don’t remember the accident,” tells Cheshire. “Now that I’m blind, no longer sighted, there are these thought processes of what blind people can and can’t do and I don’t like that. I don’t want to feel like I have to live a limited life because I’m blind.”

In the ten years since she lost her sight, Cheshire has represented the USA in the Rio Paralympics as a tandem cyclist and became the first blind woman to complete the double-crossing of the Grand Canyon in 2018, setting a world record.

Now, she’s riding with her friend, Jesse, guided by the sound of music playing on the back of his bike, with another truck following behind them.

Communicating with two-way radios, the team describes everything in her path.

“I literally take it one day at a time. I don’t think about yesterday and I’m not thinking about tomorrow, because in its entire capacity it’s too much and it’s hard,” says Cheshire, who despite not having vision, chooses to see beyond the limits of her blindness.

“I just want to encourage people to not live limited,” adds Cheshire “I truly believe that self-belief is a superpower, I think that would be my message to people is they’ve got to believe in themselves.”

On her way, Cheshire has also been visiting schools for the blind and connecting with first responders, veteran organizations, disability advocates, cycling communities and anyone who is looking to be inspired.

Cheshire says if her entourage keeps going at the same pace, they’re expected to get to Virginia Beach and complete their journey this Thursday, July 15.

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