“You don’t have to have vision to be a visionary” – Aaron Scheidies
Aaron Scheidies is a 32 year old that has overcome more in his short life than many conquer in a lifespan. Born with a hereditary eye condition that slowly deteriorates his central vision, Aaron now has 20% of the vision of a fully sighted person.
Aaron has always been fascinated with sports and has excelled in nearly every sport that he has dedicated himself to. Aaron watched his dream of being a professional soccer player float away with the loss of his sight, but after battling through hard times in his early teens, Aaron found the sport of triathlon and turned his life around. Beginning with sprint triathlon and continuing up the triathlon pyramid, Aaron is now an eight-time triathlon World Champion and nine-time National Champion, having traveled around the globe competing in over 200 triathlons. Aaron also holds the World Records for fastest athlete with a disability in both olympic distance and half Ironman distance triathlons. He competes at an elite level among able-bodied triathletes and has revolutionize the sport of triathlon.
Just as he is a multi-dimensional athlete, he also excels in all aspects of life. At Michigan State University Aaron had a perfect 4.0 GPA, was the president of the MSU Triathlon Club, volunteered over 100 hours helping other students with disabilities and was inducted into the Athletes with Disability Hall of Fame. He went on to the University of Washington to receive his Doctorate of Physical Therapy in 2008 and continues to practice physical therapy for RehabCare.
In 2011, Aaron continued to be honored for his excellence. He was a finalist for an ESPY for Best Athlete with a Disability and was also selected by the president of Michigan State University as a Distinguished Young Alumni at the Grand Awards Ceremony. Both of these honors rank at the highest level in their respective areas. Despite much success,
Aaron has faced much adversity. As an ambassador and spokesman for the United States Association for Blind Athletes (USABA) and the C Different Foundation, Aaron has collaborated with others in the blind/visually impaired community and served as the voice in many issues of inclusion and exclusion. His determination and passion towards maintaining equality and integrity in sport and in society are unmatched. This mission was made clear during a three years battle with national and international governing bodies of triathlon over a rule that required all blind/visually impaired participants to wear “blackout glasses” during the run portion of a triathlon.
After organizing protests, writing letters, and putting together large documents pointing out the safety and ethical issues related to the “blackout glasses” rule and seeing no change in the rule, Aaron didn’t back down. With the entire blind/visually impaired community behind him, Aaron sacrificed his athletic career and proceeded with the only action left. In 2012, Aaron filed a legal suit against the governing bodies of triathlon and at the beginning of 2013 the “blackout rule” was removed from competition. The above example is just one of many where Aaron has helped resolve conflict in sport. Aaron continues to excel and positively impact the institution of sport. What is most impressive in this young man’s life is his never-ending spirit and humble demeanor. His goal in life is to change society’s perspective on those with disabilities and to instill confidence in those that lack it. With his contagious positive energy, Aaron continues to prove that “You don’t have to have vision to be a visionary.”