CHOOSING TO SEE: A BLIND ODYSSEY
THE RIDE OF A LIFETIME
ON MAY 17, 2021, Jesse Crandall and Shawn Cheshire started from the Pacific Ocean, each on their own road bike along with a team of supporters. Over the next 2 months, they made their way across the landscape of the United States. Just two months later, Shawn was dipping her tires in the Atlantic Ocean on July 15th.
Shawn, Jesse, and the team covered the roughly 3700 miles from Florence, Oregon to Virginia Beach, Virginia over 60 days, averaging nearly 70 miles of riding every day. Shawn became the first blind person to ride their own single bike across the country!
Along the way, they met hundreds of people and made lifelong connections in small towns, cities, and at roadside parks. Shawn met with students at the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind and at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. Steve Martin, the third rider rode the first part of the route and then provided invaluable logistical support from his home in the Phoenix area.
MEET THE TEAM
Shawn is a US Army veteran and former paramedic. She is completely blind. Shawn represented the USA in the Rio Paralympics as a tandem cyclist. She is a world record holder for the fastest rim to rim to rim crossing of the Grand Canyon by a blind athlete: 24 hours, 15 minutes. Follow her adventures on Facebook & Instagram.
Jesse is a chemistry professor in Michigan and has guided Shawn on many adventures since 2012, including the record-breaking Grand Canyon hike. Jesse has completed many different types of events with Shawn including, cross country skiing, marathons, and bike rides.
Steve is a US Army veteran and bilateral below knee amputee from injuries received from an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2008. He is also a retired Arizona State Trooper. He was the first double amputee officer in AZ and one of only a small handful ever to work in that capacity in the USA.
HOW IT STARTED
Shawn and Steve started talking about a cross country bike together back in 2014. However, with her competition schedule, they just never found the time.
After having a year off from professional racing due to COVID-19, Shawn needed another great adventure that will ultimately break through barriers of limitations placed on individuals with various challenges. So they decided to embark on a cross-continent cycling adventure!
When Shawn and Steve started planning this ride, originally the idea was to do this on a tandem bike. A blind athlete and a bilateral below knee athlete cycling from coast to coast...sounds cool!
Well, one minor plot twist is that Shawn decided to ride her own bike. Remember, she is COMPLETELY BLIND!
HOW DID THEY DO IT?
Getting safely from one side of the country to the other was strenuous, challenging and mentally exhausting for all. Jesse, Shawn’s bestie, rode in front of Shawn while a Bluetooth speaker was connected to his seat post, playing music for Shawn to follow. Steve rode behind Shawn and all three wore 2-way radios so that they could share bad jokes and give constant feedback. They described everything: road conditions, terrain, if the road is moving left or right, and of course, any hazards in their path.
A BLIND ODYSSEY
On May 17, 2021, Shawn Cheshire, a blind female Paralympian and Army veteran embarked on an unprecedented journey: to ride a single bike across the United States, coast to coast, 3800 miles.
No blind athlete had ever attempted it before.
Choosing to See documented this incredible test of spirit and grit while telling the multi-faceted story of an extraordinary woman, Shawn Cheshire, who chooses to live life not defined by her loss and trauma but by the power of self-belief.
The film will blend intimate verité with animation and sound design sequences that bring viewers viscerally into Shawn’s experience navigating the world as a blind woman, and the remarkable ways she breaks barriers and limitations to live an independent and empowered life.
Stay tuned for more!