Utah Deaf-Blind Students Complete 70-Mile Boat Race in 36 Hours

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PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. — Students and chaperones at Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind have called this race redemption.

It was last year that this group competed in the Seventy48 boat race from Tacoma, Washington to Port Townsend, Washington. They arrived 20 miles from the finish before having to retire due to weather conditions.

“Last year was a little tough – the weather was definitely a lot worse than this year,” said Landon Pearce, an 11th grader at the school.

Pearce is one of two students from last year who returned this year to run and try running again.

Eight students, including four girls and four boys, spent months preparing and practicing, with eight chaperones.

“We met for different practices, Lake Powell and Willard Bay, to prepare to make sure we were ready,” said Hannah Hart, a student at the school.

The group left the dock Friday in Tacoma in their 48-foot cata-canoe, setting off on a 70-mile journey filled with obstacles and challenges.

“I think the hardest things were like the mindsets that we all had to go through, because there were times when we were so mentally drained that we just got tired of going rowing and rowing,” said Josh Taylor, a school student.

Ryan Greene, director/director of blind campus programs for Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind, said nearly 200 people participated in the race, including 119 teams.

He said a rough current on Saturday forced the group to set up camp for the night.

“We’ve been up at this point for, you know, 27, 28 hours, and our students are tired,” Greene said.

However, that didn’t stop them from reaching the finish line on Sunday morning, just after 7am.

In all, it took them 36 hours to complete the 48-hour race.

“The feeling was a very special thing, and it was so great to hear all the people there supporting us,” Greene said. “Our families were there, of course, to see us at the finish line.”

These students spoke of the importance of this experience.

“I came in with a confidence level of maybe one and left like a nine or a 10,” Hart said.

Greene said they had one student this year who was completely blind, one who was deafblind, and others who had low vision.

He tells FOX 13 News that they will be taking time off from the race next year. However, he said they hope to be part of what he calls a cool experience for their students again in the future.

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