Jul 18, 2017

USABA Searches for New Member of the Board of Directors

The United States Association of Blind Athletes is seeking qualified candidates to serve on its Board of Directors. USABA is seeking proactive, energetic, success-oriented individuals to assist in achieving our goal of 2020 2X; doubling the effectiveness of the organization by the 2020 Paralympics.

Successful candidates will have a proven track record of high achievement in fund-raising, the field of athletics, non-profit governance or service delivery to constituencies. Our mission statement is: “The United States Association of Blind Athletes empowers Americans who are blind and visually impaired to experience life-changing opportunities in sports, recreation and physical activities, thereby educating and inspiring the nation.” We are seeking candidates who can assist our organization succeed with this mission. Term of office for the Board of Directors is 4 years. Please refer to job description below for a complete picture of expectations of USABA Board members.

Please submit a resume’ and letter of intent to Peter Paulding, USABA Governance Committee Chair, no later than August 15, 2017. Documents must be submitted via email, in PDF format and sent to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by the August 15, 2017 deadline to be considered.

United States Association of Blind Athletes - Member of the Board of Directors
Job Description and Expectations

MissionThe United States Association of Blind Athletes empowers Americans who are blind and visually impaired to experience life-changing opportunities in sports, recreation and physical activities, thereby educating and inspiring the nation.

VisionEvery American who is blind or visually impaired will lead a healthy lifestyle by actively participating in sports, recreation and physical activity.

Respect: We respect and honor the inherent value and the contributions of people who are blind and visually impaired.
Integrity: We conduct our business transparently, honestly, and ethically.
Empowerment: We are deeply dedicated to the potential of each person who is blind or visually impaired involved with USABA to realize his or her aspirations.
Diversity: We are committed to welcoming individuals from various cultural backgrounds and life experiences, regardless of disability, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and age.
Inclusion: We foster an environment of acceptance through education and seek ways to broaden the integration of athletes who are blind and visually impaired into community-based sports programs and competitions.

• Attend board meetings regularly
• Serve on at least one committee (each year) and participate in its meetings regularly
• Attend board retreat, in-service workshops and other board development activities
• Attend and participate in special events as needed
• Be well informed on issues and agenda items in advance of meetings
• Contribute skills, knowledge and experience when appropriate
• Listen respectfully to other points of view
• Participate in organizational decision-making
• Contribute financially to the organization, according to one’s ability
• Support and participate in fundraising activities
• Perform program and management oversight by being aware of all aspects of the organization
• Be a goodwill ambassador for the organization
• Assume leadership positions willingly
• Be a team player

Length of Term:   Four Years
Responsible to:   Entire Board; “reports to” President
Time Commitment:  5-10 Hours per month

Governing Style:
The Board of Directors of USABA will approach its governance task with a style that emphasizes the following:
• Outward vision
• Encouragement of diversity in viewpoints
• Strategic leadership more than administrative detail
• Clear distinction between board and staff roles
• Focus on the future
• Being proactive rather than reactive in its endeavors

Code of Ethics:

As a member of the board, I will:
• Listen carefully to my board colleagues;
• Respect the opinion of fellow board members;
• Respect and support majority decisions of the board;
• Recognize that all authority is vested in the full board only when it meets in legal sessions;
• Keep well-informed about developments relevant to issues that may come before the board;
• Participate in board meetings and actions;
• Bring to the attention of the board any issues I believe will have an adverse effect on the organization or those we serve;
• Attempt to interpret the needs of those we serve to the nonprofit, and interpret the actions of the nonprofit to those we serve;
• Refer complaint to the proper level on the chain of command;
• Recognize that my job is to ensure that the nonprofit is well-managed, not to management the nonprofit;
• Represent all those whom this nonprofit serves, not just a particular geographic area or interest group;
• Consider myself a “trustee” of the nonprofit and do my best to ensure that it is well-maintained, financially secure, growing and always operating in the best interests of those we serve;
• Always work in learn how to do my job better;
• Declare conflicts of interest between my personal life and my position on the board, and abstain from voting or discussion when appropriate.

As a member of the board, I will not:
• Criticize fellow board members or their opinions, in or out of the board room;
• Use the nonprofit organization for my personal advantage or that of my friends or relatives;
• Discuss the confidential proceedings of the board outside the boardroom;
• Promise before the meeting how I will vote on any issue;
• Interfere with the duties of the administrator or undermine the administrator’s authority with staff members.

Jul 06, 2017

USABA Competitive and Recreational Community Sports Integration Project for Veterans

A key component of military service, regardless of the era, is challenging one’s physical abilities. Remember all of those long ruck marches, unit fun runs, and PT tests? Yes, like many of you I try not to as well, but one cannot argue against the amount of research and information about the benefits of exercise to combat adverse health and mental health conditions. More importantly, organizations like USABA, Team Red, White, and Blue, Achilles, and your local sporting groups built tremendous communities with a vested interest in the well-being of those who elect to participate.

USABA just rolled out a new program aiming to encourage visually impaired Veterans’ participation in local adaptive sporting and athletic events. The Community Sports Integration Project funds visually impaired Veterans registration and travel, so that they have the opportunity to participate in competitive and recreational sports in their local and regional community. Through a VA adaptive sporting grant, USABA will provide Veterans reimbursements for entry fees for the following events:
• 5k to marathons
• Cycling events
• Triathlons, (Sprint and Olympic distance only)
• Powerlifting meets
• Rowing regattas
• Challenge events like Tuff Mudders and Warrior Dashes
• Swim meets
• Other competitions and tournaments for golfing, bowling, sailing, and other sporting and athletic events.

* Please note, multi-day events, camps, and ‘tours’ will not be considered. Likewise, events utilizing funds from the VA Adaptive Sports Grant will not be covered due to VA policies. Veterans will be provided t-shirts and other apparel to wear while competing when sport applicable. 

Any visually impaired Veteran may apply, regardless of your age, whether you are recreationally participating or fighting to win, or location. Funding is available on a first come, first serve basis for any event starting July 1st until September 30th, 2017. If this interests you, here are the project’s guidelines:
1. Contact the project coordinator with information about the event you wish to participate. The coordinator will provide initial approval, along with a packet containing USABA apparel to wear during the event.
2. Participate in the event wearing the USABA apparel and share a photo of you on social media with the tags, USABA and VA Adaptive Sports. If you do not have any social media accounts, send the project coordinator a photo of you so they might perform this step.
3.  Submit your official result to the project coordinator. This can be submitted as a link to race results or a printed result.
4. Mileage stipends will be considered for events more than 50 miles away one way. Stipends will be capped at $75. Please seek approval before regional events from the project coordinator.
5. Reimbursements must be submitted to the project coordinator by the 10th of each month to receive
 the same month. Reimbursements may cover the registration costs for both the Veteran and their sighted guide (if the activity requires one) and travel up to $75 (waivers are available).

If you have questions, please contact the project coordinator before your event. The project coordinators are:

Timothy Hornik
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
(785) 330-3503

Ryan Ortiz
Assistant Executive Director, USABA
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
(719) 866-3025

Jun 18, 2017

Father Shares His Love for Running with 10-Year-Old Son

By: Courtney Patterson, USABA staff

U.S. Navy Veteran Don Balcom runs marathons, works as a mechanical engineer for the U.S. Navy and recently started training in downhill skiing. But his most important job and hobby is being a father to his two children – Austin and Alaina. Balcom’s eldest child, his son Austin, recently expressed an interest in running with his father. Having watched his father complete in various marathons, including finishing first in the visual impairment category at the 2015 Boston Marathon, Austin has witnessed his father’s passion for the sport since Balcom started running in 2012.

“It came after my wife and I were discussing my participation in a 5k while on a cruise later this year for her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary,” said Balcom.

Austin played tee ball before starting kindergarten and took taekwondo for two years but neither sport clicked. Balcom and his wife are big proponents of keeping their children active so they welcomed Austin’s interest in running a 5k with him.

“He came up with a log book for his training,” said Balcom. “He even logs pushups and sit-ups with his little sister in addition to running.

The father-son duo train on the treadmill now that summer temperatures are warming their hometown of Hollywood, Maryland. “He does a mile here and there while I’m down there training.”

Austin is also running during recess at school and helping his dad with Southern Maryland Community Resources Walk and Roll Club, a non-profit organization dedicated to getting people with developmental disabilities active and engaged in a local fun run.

“He’s got a helping heart so it’s cool to see him getting involved with others who want to run too.” Austin also serves as a guide for his father when they run outside and will serve as a guide during their race.

“We’ve always been pretty close. We spend at least an hour together every night after I get home from work. We’ll watch TV or play cards. Now, we have another activity we can share!”

While Balcom has a long list of accolades in the running space, he’s not pushing Austin to perform. “I’m doing my best to balance. I want to motivate him properly if [running] is what he wants to do. I also don’t want him to give up on anything unless he truly doesn’t want to do it anymore.”

Balcom is enjoying Austin’s interest in running and finds that it’s also helping with his long-distance training. “It gives me a chance to do a slow run. Even my easy runs aren’t slow like this. [Running with Austin] helps loosen me up. I like it. It gives us time to chat and learn.”

Balcom encourages other parents to engage in fitness and sports activities with their kids on a regular basis. “Find something you both like to do. Even if it’s walking – do something! Finding someone with a similar interest and schedule time with them to hold you accountable. Doing this with your kids instills values of activity and accountability at a young age. You can also motivate each other. Austin loves to ask me if I’ve done my run for the day. Gives him a little power to keep me motivated and hold me accountable like that.”

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