Blind athletes tackle Sydney coastline to help restore sight

Trekking 50 kilometres in the heat, sun and wind, through soft sand and up and down steep steps along Sydney’s coastline... Sound like a challenge to you? Now imagine doing this blind.

That is exactly what a team of four visually impaired athletes will be doing in this year’s Wild Women On Top Sydney Coastrek. The Achilles Athletes team is captained by blind runner Ben Philips and will be led along the track by members of the Achilles Guides team from Palm Beach to Balmoral on Friday, 2 March 2012.

The Wild Women On Top Sydney Coastrek, now in its third year, raises money for The Fred Hollows Foundation's sight restoring work around the world. Teams of four will tackle a 50 kilometre or 100 kilometre trek. 

This year Coastrek aims to raise $1 million for The Fred Hollows Foundation. With over 1,200 participants this team event will have a significant impact and continue Fred’s work towards a world where no one is needlessly blind.

While hiking 50 kilometres may seem near-impossible, for Ben Phillips it is an opportunity to give people something he has never had - sight.

“There’s nothing wrong with my legs and if it is going to give other people sight . . . something that I’ve never had, it is an amazing thing,” he said in a recent ABC Radio National interview.

Phillips has never let blindness stop him taking on a challenge. Last year alone he completed a marathon and a 100 kilometre trek.

“I could either sit at home and feel sorry for myself all the time or get out there and make the most of it, and that’s what I’ve done", he told Radio National.

"I’ve tackled life head on, any challenge that comes my way I can just leap over it and it’s proven to be true - the more people who tell me I can’t do something, it just motivates me more to do it.”

Despite his other athletic accomplishments, the Coastrek challenge is a little more personal for Philips. Fred Hollows was his doctor as a young child and he sees this as one way to thank Fred and help continue his sight saving work.

The Fred Hollows Foundation wishes the Achilles Athletes and all other participants in this year's Sydney Coastrek the best of luck.

Find out more about Wild Women On Top Sydney Coastrek or donate.

Watch this amazing video about the Achilles Athletes or Listen to a Radio National interview with Ben Phillips, Team Leader of Achilles Athletes.

 
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