Around BVA

BVA member Sets Record at Turkey Day 5K

Story and photo courtesy of CBS Denver

A 97-year-old Colorado man has set a world record at the annual Turkey Day 5K in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

Bob McAdam finished the 3.1 mile run in 48 minutes and 33 seconds, on Thanksgiving morning. This makes him the fastest runner in his age group, 95 and older, to complete a 5K race.

McAdams used to run regularly until he was 91 years of age but hadn’t run in 4-5 years. “I started running on the treadmill at the fitness center and the fitness instructor asked if I would represent the Center in the next race,” he said.

“I said I can’t do that, I’m legally blind and afraid of potholes and curbs,” said McAdams. “She said I’ll be your eyes and I’ll run with you. So she did.”

BVA member Bob McAdams dressed in a running suit meeting the crowd gathered to watch the 5K Turkey race.

BVA member Bob McAdams dressed in a running suit meeting the crowd gathered to watch the 5K Turkey race.

They marked a quarter mile track at the fitness center for McAdams to train on that was not heavily travelled so I would train on that 4-5 times a week.”

Together, along with a team, of 4-5 runners from the retirement home, they crossed the finish line to the sound of cheering fans.

“One of the team members had a radio in which he kept race officials apprised of our progress,” he said.

While it wasn’t an easy feat, McAdam never lost sight of his goal.

“I was really tired in the third mile but I thought I could finish,” he said. “I knew there was a goal line out there somewhere, but it kept moving backwards.”

“If I inspired somebody that’s great,” he said. “That’s not my purpose but it’s great if somebody gets moving because of it.”

McAdam raced in the Turkey Day 5K last year, too. He originally beat the world record then, but because the race was not officiated, his time was never made official.

Race officials said they will submit his time this year, to claim the official world record.

Father-Son Compete in Bike Race

By Tracy Lester

Dr. Ron Lester, 72, and his son, Rob Lester, 49, of Tucson, Arizona, competed in the 54-mile leg of El Tour de Tucson, a 106-mile bike race that loops around the city of Tucson. The 35th annual event attracted over 6,500 riders from around the world who found perfect autumn Arizona weather in a city known for its support of both cycling and veterans services. The pair rode with the sponsorship of VeloVets, an organization dedicated to providing cycling opportunities to disabled veterans for camaraderie and fitness.

The race was the first for the duo on the custom-built tandem provided by the VA a few years earlier to Dr. Lester, a blind Vietnam veteran. The pair came in 12th of 17 tandem teams and were squarely in the middle of the pack for the leg overall. Rob, a Gulf War vet, became interested in individual cycling for fitness and to address his service-related PTSD. He was familiar with the logistics of riding in a large group after participating in RAGBRAI in July 2017. Dr. Lester, who rides primarily to get out in the community, found starting the leg with 1,100 riders a bit more challenging. While the duo rides faithfully several mornings each week, Dr. Lester was thankful he and Rob had done a few long rides to get accustomed to the demands of the race. The pair initially intended to tackle the 76-mile leg but decided on the shorter route as the race neared.

Rob Lester, and his dad Dr. Ron Lester, dressed blue exercises clothes with their bike helmets on posing in back of their bike prior to the bike race.

BVA member Bob McAdams dressed in a running suit meeting the crowd gathered to watch the 5K Turkey race.

Dr. Lester joined BVA in the 1970’s after serving 11 years in the Air Force. He was medically retired due to his vision loss and suffers the effects of Agent Orange exposure. He is former President of the Southern Arizona Region Group. In, Dr. Lester hosts a weekly Internet radio show called “Special Needs Watch” on He is the author of two books about his life and overcoming disability, information about which can be found at

Father and son plan to continue their morning tandem rides in anticipation future races. “El Tour was a fantastic experience, “said Dr. Lester. “We should only get stronger as we keep working at it.”

BVA Remembers Pearl Harbor Attack Survivor

By Chet Curtis

BVA is saddened to announce that Craig "Kirk" Mason Kirkpatrick, Sr., 98, BVA member and Pearl Harbor survivor, passed away Saturday, January 13, 2018. Kirk was born July 24, 1919 in Bluff, NC. Raised in Spring Creek, NC, Kirk enlisted in the United States Navy in the summer of 1938. During his eight years of naval service, he served on six ships, eventually rising to the grade of Chief Warrant Officer before separating in 1946. He was a Second Class Electricians Mate aboard the USS Castor in Pearl Harbor Territory of Hawaii, when Japan attacked on December 7, 1941.

Headshot of Craig Kirkpatrick. He is wearing a collared shirt and sunglasses and he is looking up into a camera.

Headshot of Craig Kirkpatrick. He is wearing a collared shirt and sunglasses and he is looking up into a camera.

In the morning hours of December 7th, 1941, Japanese fighters and dive bombers launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. More than 2400 Americans were killed and almost 1200 wounded. The surprise attack was a profound shock to the American people and led directly to America’s entry into World War II.

Kirkpatrick was a young sailor serving on board the U.S.S Castor, which was anchored in Pearl Harbor across the channel from Battle Ship Row. The Castor didn’t take a direct hit so Kirkpatrick had a front row seat to the “Day that will live in Infamy. According to a story on WLOS TV News 13 in Ashville, North Carolina, at the time of the attack Kirkpatrick was below deck with his shipmates having breakfast when the air-raid sirens went off.

“None of us knew what was happening, said Kirkpatrick, until a visitor from the bridge came down the stairs yelling “air raid, air raid, this is not a drill.” He and his 130 shipmates rushed to their battle-stations and saw they were under attack.

“I looked up and saw an aircraft in motion,” said Kirkpatrick. Aircraft were flying so low he could see the pilot and the gunner. “I was scared a little bit,” he said, but hurried to the engine room where he manned his battle station.

After the attack, he went on deck to see the aftermath of the attack.

“They really caught us sleeping,” he said.

Kirkpatrick and others survived the attack to continue the fight against Japan but he has a lesson for us today. “We had better not forget,” he said.

Speaking at an event at the WNC Military History Museum in North Carolina, commemorating the attack, Joe Parker, the national president of the Blinded Veterans Association, said Kirkpatrick, who has been a member of the Blinded Veteran’s Association since 1984, is an “outstanding citizen, and has done a lot of community work, and is well-known throughout this community, and we are proud to have him in our ranks.” He will be missed.

BVA Member Accomplishes Hole in One

By Chet Curtis

BVA life member Howard Payne joined an exclusive club at the age of 94 by achieving a “hole in one,” a once in a life time moment for any golfer.

Mr. Payne’s accomplishment occurred on 28 December just three days after his birthday at the Don Knabe Golf Center in Norwalk, CA.

“It was exciting... a thrill.” said Payne. “The Hole in One was a miracle 94 on Christmas Day and on the 28th made the Hole-In-One at 94 years of age,” he said. “The only other Hole-in-One was made by me in August, 1969....and little did I expect to make this second one. It was very exciting to see the golf ball in the Hole on the 9th Hole at the Don Knabe.”

“Howard Payne is an outstanding BVA life member who is an inspiration to the blinded veterans in the Major Charles R. Soltes Jr. OD VA Blind Center as a volunteer, and golf putting green instructor,” said Tom Zampieri, BVA District 6 Director. “Howard, at age 94, keeps providing younger blinded veterans with encouragement to keep active, ‘play golf’ and “don’t stop.” He is a great example of BVA’s mission “blinded veterans helping blinded veterans.”

Howard Payne on the left in his golf hat on the golf course sharing a laugh with Tom Zampieri (center) and Dale Stamper (right).

Howard Payne on the left in his golf hat on the golf course sharing a laugh with Tom Zampieri (center) and Dale Stamper (right).

The World War II veteran has always been an inspiration for all blinded veterans. He was one of the original volunteers leading to the dedication of the Major Charles R. Soltes Jr. OD VA Blind Rehabilitation Center in 2011. When told it would cost $25,000 to build a golf putting green practice area he went out, and six months later had raised the money.

“He wanted to have a first ever Blind Rehabilitation Center putting green where students in the rehabilitation program could get some opportunity to learn golf putting, said Zampieri, and hopefully encourage them to go further.”

Payne continues to be an inspiration to all the blinded veterans who enter the Blind Rehabilitation Center for training and volunteers a couple days a week. He always attends the October Major Robert Soltes Jr. OD Memorial Golf tournament and plays at least 9 holes.

Howard is an integral member of our BVA and the Adaptive putting coach for our Blind Rehab Center,” said Paul Koons, Director, Major Charles Robert Soltes, Jr., Blind Rehabilitation Center (BRC). “He offers weekly adaptive putting clinics not only for Blind Veterans, but, for Spinal Cord Injury and Community Living Center Veterans as well. In fact, our Therapeutic putting green located in our BRC north courtyard is already named after him! Our inpatient veterans display a special smile each week when he arrives. ”Well done on your hole in one, Mr. Payne! We are very proud of you.”

Louisiana / Mississippi Regional Group Meeting Report

In September, the Louisiana and Mississippi Regional Groups joined together to form a more active and cohesive group that can better serve members of both groups as well as the National Blinded Veterans Association.

October was White Cane Month and BVA members spoke to the Lions Club in Lafayette and Breaux Bridge, LA about the white cane and what it means. Many in attendance were not aware of the Lions involvement in the history of the White Cane. The Breaux Bridge Lions Club donated stickers with “Lions Support White Cane Day” to be distributed as needed. On October 14, informational exhibits and treats were set up at the VAMC in Alexandria, LA and BVA members Gary Schoelerman, John Cross and their wives, Marelle and Gloria, manned the display at the VA clinic in Lafayette, LA where all employees and visiting veterans were given a sticker supporting White Cane Day.

We hope to have many more events next year that will draw our members together.

Rocky Mountain Regional Group Meeting Announcement

Blinded Veterans Association
Rocky Mountain Regional Group
General membership meeting
Date: Friday February 9, 2018.
Time: 12:30 to 3:00 PM
Place: Perkins Restaurant 1995 S. Colorado Blvd Denver Colorado 80222

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