Campus Life

Legally blind student charts her own (marathon) course

Cancellation of New York City Marathon prompts Devin Adams to plan, complete her first marathon in State College

Devin Adams (center left, blue shirt) runs across Penn State's University Park campus on Nov. 1 as part of the marathon she planned and completed to benefit Camp Abilities. Several of Devin's Penn State club cross-country teammates ran portions of the race with her and provided support along the way. Credit: Courtesy of Devin AdamsAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — No obstacle is big enough to deter Devin Adams from pursuing her passions. The Penn State junior, who is double majoring in English and rehabilitation and human services, recently ran her own marathon in State College to raise money for charity.

Completing a marathon is an impressive accomplishment in and of itself — doing so requires many months of training and preparation. Doing so when you are legally blind, as Adams is, makes the accomplishment even more impressive.

Devin Adams' passion for running recently spurred her to plan and complete her first marathon in State College. The Penn State junior, who is legally blind, used the race as an opportunity to raise money for Camp Abilities, a sports camp for children and teens with visual impairments. Credit: Courtesy of Devin AdamsAll Rights Reserved.

Adams was born with leber congenital amaurosis, a rare genetic eye disorder that results in severe visual impairment. However, she has not let her diagnosis stop her from doing one of the things she loves doing the most.

Adams is a member of the club cross-country team and had planned to run in this year’s New York City Marathon until the pandemic forced organizers to cancel the event. Undeterred by the cancellation, Adams decided to create her own “raceless” marathon instead. With the help of her cross-country teammates, Adams completed the 26.2 miles on Nov. 1 on a course that stretched from downtown State College, to Boalsburg, and eventually back to the University Park campus.

“I kind of just wanted to do it here as a way to have something to look forward to and to work toward — especially with everything being so uncertain,” she said. “Once we decided to make it a fundraiser, I feel like it gave it a real purpose, too.”

Adams used the race as an opportunity to raise money for Camp Abilities, a weeklong sports camp for children and teens with visual impairments.

“I grew up going to a Camp Abilities in Pennsylvania and now volunteer there,” Adams said. “It was always a place where no limits were put on anyone based on visual impairment or any disability.”

Adams described how people with disabilities often have fewer opportunities to participate in sports or other physical activities. “Camp Abilities and their programs help to change the narrative,” she said. “I just think it's really important to foster opportunities for everyone to be active.”

Adams first began running in middle school but briefly stepped away from the sport in order to focus on horseback riding and other competitive activities. She rediscovered her passion for running and found a community of friends when she joined the club cross-country team.

Adams described the feeling of completing her first full marathon as “surreal.” “It didn't really feel real at first, but then it kind of hit me,” she said. “It just felt really amazing to have completed that and be surrounded by some of the best people I know.”

Adams still plans on running the New York City Marathon eventually, perhaps even as soon as next year. Until then, she plans to continue competing and taking on new challenges with her cross-country teammates at Penn State.

Last Updated December 22, 2020