Amazing Mom: Leslie Nordin

Filed under: Medical Conditions, Special Needs, Resources, Amazing Parents, Sports

Leslie Nordin crosses the marathon finish line, a race she did blindfolded. Credit: MarathonFoto


Amazing Mom
: Leslie Nordin, who ran the 2009 Boston Marathon blindfolded to prove to her blind son, then age 4, that he can do anything.

Leslie's Family: Husband: Dayton Nordin, Married 8 1/2 years; Kids: Sawyer, 5, Riley, 4

Leslie Lives In: Hingham, Massachusetts

Why Leslie Is Amazing: In April 2009, Leslie Nordin ran the Boston Marathon. Blindfolded.

Her son Sawyer, 5, was born blind and she wanted to send him the message that he can meet any challenge that comes his way. In the process, she also raised close to $33,000 for his school, Perkins School for the Blind.

"Things are not easy for him," says Leslie of her son. "Everything's more difficult for him and we're always thinking of ways to challenge him. I'm going to be asking him his whole life to challenge himself so I wanted to do something that really set an example."

Leslie was scared about running 26.2 miles, all of which she could feel beneath her feet but not see with her perfectly functioning eyes. To help her along, she had two friends and her husband as sighted guides, each taking a different leg of the race. "I thought I was going to come out of it feeling more fearful about what Sawyer had to deal with," she says. "But I felt incredibly empowered ... here I was terrified of running with a blindfold and not only did I do it, but I did it and felt better about my son's disability when I thought the opposite would occur."

Right now Sawyer's unable to comprehend the meaning behind his mother's gesture, but when he is, Leslie hopes it will facilitate an ongoing dialogue about facing one's fears. "Because at the end of the day, we can't really expect things of our children that we don't expect of ourselves," she says.

Raising kids without disabilities is challenging enough, says Leslie, but when you have extra challenges like a major disability, it changes the journey. "I think it can be a very isolating experience but you certainly learn so much about patience, acceptance, about what truly is important and what you want for your child in terms of happiness and health."

Sawyer, with his mom Leslie. Credit: Courtesy of Leslie Nordin


Leslie's Husband Dayton Says: It would be easy for Leslie to focus all of her attention on Sawyer, but she makes an equal amount of time for Riley to do the fun things Riley likes to do. And she still makes a lot of time for us to do things as a couple. She's the balancing force in all of our lives. She's also a great resource for other parents with kids with challenges similar to Sawyer. She gets on blogs when people have questions and takes the time to write out a thoughtful response.

Leslie's Guilty Pleasures: "Gossipy magazines. Some reality TV, although I don't like to watch the train wrecks like Jersey Shore. And I'm a chocoholic, I absolutely looove chocolate."

Recognition: Profiled in the October 2009 issue of Runner's World; various speaking engagements including one for the National Braille Press.

Leslie's Best Advice: Realize that your own perceptions of your own limitations don't have to hold you back. You can confront your fears about something and you can tackle what seems like an insurmountable challenge. Rely on your own courage and strength and the belief that you really are capable of nearly any challenge.

Related:
Amazing Mom: Brenda High

Want to see who else made the list? Click here for the rest of AOL's 2010 Amazing Moms!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.