EMPOWERING THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED COMMUNITY
Our mission is to build public awareness and create connections between the sighted and visually impaired communities by providing assistance, opportunities and encouragement to the blind while inspiring and educating the sighted.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
— Helen Keller
As we provide encouragement, assistance and opportunities to the blind/ visually impaired community, we hope to educate and inspire the sighted community by creating connections and opportunities that will encourage empowerment and self-confidence in everyone.
As a founding member and instrumental in the formation of our organization, Rich’s selfless service, drive and commitment to help others inspires all of us. He came by his strong work ethic and willingness to go the extra mile through his time with the US Army. Rich retired in 2008 with over 30 years in the Field Artillery. Following retirement, Rich continued to serve our nation’s greatest assets. His first opportunity was with the US Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) serving veterans who are blind and visually impaired by accelerating their rehabilitation and reintegration back into their home communities. More recently, Rich helps to enhance the lives of veterans living with the invisible injuries of war (TBI, PTSD, and MST) and to give them a better life using evidence-based therapeutic recreation practices and the sustained continuum of care necessary for a successful reintegration into families and home communities (Higher Ground Sun Valley). In addition to a soldier’s sense of duty and mission, Rich brings a warm sense of humor and a quick smile to his work with Choosing To See -- traits that make our days, as well as those of our participants, brighter.
Jesse Crandall is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut. Jesse and Shawn Cheshire have been skiing, running, and adventuring together for the past 6 years. After growing up in Wisconsin, Jesse attended Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota where he was a top skier on the cross country ski team. He went on to be Head Ski Coach at Western State College of Colorado (now Western State Colorado University). Following that experience, he attended graduate school at SUNY-ESF in Syracuse, New York and earned a PhD in Chemistry. Jesse now lives in Hartford, Connecticut and in addition to teaching chemistry to college students, he enjoys cross country skiing in New England, spending time with his family in Northwestern Wisconsin, and traveling.
In all of Scott’s schooling, he completed coursework related to exercise and sport science with an emphasis in clinical exercise physiology. As a full Professor at Northern Michigan University, he teaches primarily exercise physiology, strength and conditioning, and exercise testing and prescription for special population coursework at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Overall, Scott enjoys the rigors of higher education and practices what he preaches, daily, as an avid trail/adventure runner, mountain biker, rock climber, and twice-weekly ‘gym rat’ where he throws around iron weights. Supported by his daily, kinetic adventures, Scott, throughout his life, has always sought solace in the embrace of the mountains, especially while speed hiking or scrambling or vertically climbing the tall peaks around the West and Pacific Northwest. With regard to Choosing To See, Scott embraces being part of a team to plan, implement, and expand what is possible for legally blind, totally blind, and other participants as they (re)learn a ‘challenge by choice’ moniker and take this attitude into the front or backcountry of adventure.
Shawn Cheshire joined the U.S. Army in 1994 and served as a helicopter armament systems mechanic for eight years. Following her years in the service, she became an EMT-Paramedic, and in 2009, during a snowstorm, she slipped while treating a patient in an ambulance and sustained a traumatic brain injury which resulted in total loss of vision. The introduction to para-sports ignited her competitive spirit and helped her confront her blindness. She has competed for Team USA in both summer and winter sports, being the first visually impaired female athlete to compete for the U.S. Paralympic Nordic ski team. She began cycling in 2012 and started competing in February of 2013. She has proven herself to be an elite multi-sport athlete by winning a gold medal in indoor rowing at the 2014 Invictus Games in London. Now focused fully on tandem cycling, Cheshire trains full-time and has made a name for herself in the national and international cycling circuit. In the last five years, Shawn has raced with the US National Paralympic Cycling Team in 20 national and 20 international races. Shawn is an 11 time US National Champion.