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Marla Runyan

The First Legally Blind Person to Earn a Spot on the U.S. Olympic Team
FEE RANGE: $5,000–$7,500 [FEE NOTE]
TRAVELS FROM: Massachusetts
Marla Runyan began losing her eyesight at age nine, but that did not deter her in the least from becoming the first person who is legally blind to compete against fully-sighted world class athletes. Marla set world records and won gold medals in the Paralympics. More impressive, she earned positions on two U.S. Olympic teams and was the top American female finisher at the NYC, Boston, and Chicago marathons. Marla’s eighth-place Olympic finish in 2000 was the highest by any U.S. woman in the 1500 meter event. In 2001, Marla became the first ambassador for Perkins School for the Blind, the nation’s first school of its kind. Today, she teaches at Perkins, inspiring not only her students but everyone she meets to set and exceed their own expectations. “I know where the finish line is,” Marla says, “whether I can see it or not.”