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Blind student competes for McAuliffe Cross Country

Romina Tarazon Cabada was all smiles as she crossed the finish line at the cross country meet at Winograd K-8 School in September.


“You did it!” said her guide and running mate, fifth grade teacher Kyla Beck said. Blind student Romina Tarazon Cabada runs cross country for McAuliffe STEM Academy 2023


After a drink of water and a few minutes to catch her breath, Romina says, “I wasn’t even last! There was someone behind me!”


A seventh grader at S. Christa McAuliffe STEM Academy, Romina has an infectious smile and a positive attitude. Blind since birth, this 12-year-old has taken on many challenges in life, from learning to speak English to playing the flute to maneuvering the halls of her school. But this year, she decided to take on a new challenge: Competing on McAuliffe’s cross country team.


“I came here from Mexico in the third grade,” Romina said. “I like running a lot in P.E. I thought cross country was a special sport. I wanted to try it.”


It was apparent that Romina would need some assistance to reach her cross country goals. And so, 5th grade teacher Kyla Beck stepped up to volunteer to be Romina’s guide during her practices and competitions. 


Beck worked with an adaptive physical education teacher to learn how to guide Romina in running cross country. The two hold onto a strap that is knotted. Beck tells Romina when they are approaching obstacles and changes in terrain. She encourages her, but lets Romina set the pace.


“It’s been a lot of fun and really interesting,” Kyla said. “Watching Romina improve has been awesome.”


Cross Country Coach Dan Goding said Romina has been an asset to the team this year. 


“It has been awesome that Romina wanted to come out and do this,” Goding said. “We weren’t sure how it was going to go and honestly, she loves it.


“I get emotional when she is coming to the end and everyone is rallying around her.”


Romina has consistently improved her time during the season. At a race at Winograd K-8 in September, adults and students alike encouraged Romina as she approached the finish line. Romina’s mother, Laura Elena Cabada, and her sister, Vera, were also at the finish line to congratulate Romina and her guide. Beck’s parents also came to see the race.


“Romina and Ms. Beck make a great team,” Laura Cabada said in her native Spanish. “She is a great guide. I am proud of them.”


“I am ready for next year,” Romina tells her mom.