Club races towards inclusivity


Losing your vision “impacts on every facet of life,” Kathy Fela says.

Ms Fela was diagnosed with Stargardts disease at the age of 27 after her vision progressively deteriorated.

Stargardts disease is a genetic eye disorder that affects the retina, causing loss of vision in early life.

Ms Fela says it has made “things a bit tricky”, but she hasn’t let it stop her from living.

After the diagnosis, Ms Fela has gone on to become a hippy, live on a share farm, and join in the sport of dragon boat racing.

She is also a member of the Achilles Hunter Central Coast Club.

The club facilitates training and participation in running and walking events in a social environment, where people with disabilities can achieve life-changing goals.

“As I got older, I wanted to get fit, so I joined the Achilles club and haven’t looked back,” Ms Fela says.

Achilles launched earlier this year in Newcastle, the Hunter, and the Central Coast, but has recently merged to become the one club, Achilles Hunter Central Coast.

Ms Fela says it creates an inclusive and comfortable environment.

“It’s for anyone with a disability – you can run or walk with confidence,” she says.

“Our running guides, sometimes we call them pilots, make you feel very comfortable.

“The guides are there for you, you don’t feel awkward asking for help.”

Through the Achilles club, Ms Fela has achieved great things, competing in marathons, half marathons and other events in the region.

She even had the opportunity to run in the New York Marathon but fell ill and could not make the trip over there.

Running and the Achilles club became a family affair.

Ms Fela’s sister did her first ever fun run with her and then she went on to become her running guide.

Being blind or vision impaired can make you feel “very isolated,” Ms Fela says.

However, she adds the club allows individuals to feel comfortable and included.

“Achilles makes a big difference,” she says.

To find out more information about the club visit or their Facebook page.

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