Chloe Larimore Finds Sports, Confidence and More
When Chloe Larimore was five, just like any other student, she wanted to play tee ball. But when her local program learned that she was visually impaired, they said “no.” Katheryn (Kat) McDonald remembers looking for sports programs for her young granddaughter, who was born prematurely with detached retinas. “The searching began,” she says. “She is capable. She can run and ride a bike with assistance. All it takes is a little bit of adaptation and these kids can do anything.”
What happens when you provide a sports program for a blind or visually impaired young person? You develop a student who has transformed from being excluded from PE classes and outdoor activities into a confident athlete who uses that new self-reliance in his or her everyday life.
“Chloe was really shy and NWABA gave her the courage to go out there and say ‘If other visually impaired kids can do this, I can do this, too,’” Kat says. “Confidence built confidence and gave her courage. NWABA is giving these kids the opportunity to experience new things.”
From Zero to More than a Dozen Sports
Now 13-years-old, Chloe is a self-assured young athlete who has tried more than a dozen sports. What a difference a little adaptation and an organized sports program can make!
Chloe has experienced tandem bike riding, judo, cross country skiing, snowboarding, javelin throwing, relays and rock climbing. She plays beeper baseball in a Miracle League Baseball team for all disabilities. And she plays Leftwing for her school goalball team at the Washington State School for the Blind in Vancouver. “At WSSB, the sports I love are goalball, track, tandem bike riding, cardio/weight room, swimming and weight lifting,” she says.
Some sports have been easier than others. “I get nervous at first sometimes but as I get better, I sort of get the hang of it,” Chloe says. Snowboarding was especially challenging. It was hard to learn how to control the board.
Chloe’s confidence has spilled into other parts of her life. “It’s not only in the sports aspect but because she can do these activities, she thinks ‘Going to the grocery store, I can do it,’ says Kat. “She wants that independence and I think that sports is one of the huge parts of that. Hey, we live a physical life.” Chloe also loves to sing.
Getting the Whole Family Involved
Chloe isn’t the only one in the family involved with sports now. Chloe and her grandmother tried tandem bike riding and loved it. “We went around this huge loop and I thought, ‘Okay, I’m hooked,’” says Kat. They recently ordered a smaller, custom-made, tandem bike that will fit Kat, who is only 5’ and Chloe, who Kat says “towers above me.” They are especially excited about using the bike trails around their home in Kent and the Interurban Trail through the Seattle area.
Chloe loves the excitement of meeting her tandem bike “captain” and putting on the helmet and vest prior to riding with the NWABA group at WSSB. “I like the feeling of the fresh breeze on my face and going fast,” she says. “I look forward to spending time with my grandma on the tandem bike.”
Kat has a message for other parents and grandparents: “You have got to get your kids encouraged. You have to promote it because the kids today sit around and watch TV and stagnate. You’ve got to get them out and moving. That’s what NWABA does. It gives them confidence and independence.”
Ride on, Chloe and Kat! We’ll see you on the bike trails