My name is Lupita Hernandez. I am a Braille instructor and teacher of the visually impaired at SAAVI Services for the Blind here in Tucson, Arizona. My hobbies and interests include raising, buying and selling farm animals. I also enjoy reading, talking on the phone and gardening.

After graduating from the University of Arizona one of my former professors began running with me. She mentioned triathlons but at the time I wasn’t ready to do one but thought possibly in the future I may want to. I have also participated in several races including El Tour de Tucson 111 mile (gold, silver and bronze), El Tour de Tucson Mountains, and Break Away to the Border (first place women’s tandem). It wasn’t until last year when I was talking with a former student who told me how much fun she was having as a member of the Tucson Tri Girls. I wanted to know more and that week I too became a Tucson Tri Girl!!!

The first triathlon I did was the Shyann Kindness Tri for Acts of Kindness in September of last year and triathlons became addictive to me. I met Coach Robin who guided me in other triathlons. One of the things I have loved the most about being a Tri Girl is the friends I have made. Now I have planned races for the rest of the year and already have so many people willing to run with me or captain for tandem bike rides. Having that social network is so important and inspiring as well as motivating. There is so much to be said about being part of a team where your friends are with you to celebrate in your accomplishments and allow you to celebrate their accomplishments. My team allows me not just to run on a treadmill or ride on a stationary bike. I always have someone by my side and that means the world to me so that we can encourage each other. I am getting ready to have my first open water swim in a couple of weeks and am thrilled that a few adaptations such as tethers and the tandem bike allow me to be in the same sports as my friends. I am a rather private person and do not like to be singled out as a blind participant of an event have never wanted my being completely blind to make me stand out in any way. In my employment and personal life, I prefer to be accepted as a team member or participant and not as a disabled/blind person. I just love being Lupita, the Tri Girl that does triathlons with her team.

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