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Jamin Bartolomeo is running to support blind, visually impaired athletes like his late stepfather

"I was always amazed by his determination, his calm demeanor, and his ability to push through to the finish."

Jamin Bartolomeo poses with his coach Diane Berberian (left) and his late stepfather Burke Mealy (right)
Jamin Bartolomeo is running to raise money for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired in honor of his late stepfather Burke Mealy (right) and his coach Diane Berberian (left). Jamin Bartolomeo

In our “Why I’m Running” series, Boston Marathon runners share what’s inspiring them to make the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston. If you’re running the marathon, you can share your #WhyImRunningBoston story here.

Name: Jamin Bartolomeo
From: Burtonsville, Maryland

I am running the October 2021 Boston Marathon as a charity runner for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s Boston Marathon team, Team With A Vision.

Team With A Vision is an international team of blind and sighted runners who race to raise awareness and critical funds to support thousands living with vision loss every day. Our teams’ efforts allow the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) to deliver professional, peer and volunteer support to over 1,400 individuals each year, giving them the support they need to live with dignity and independence. All funds raised support MABVI’s statewide network of vision rehabilitation services, which include 36 low vision support groups, Assistive Technology Centers, and 400 volunteers matched 1:1 with blind individuals.

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Supporting this cause is very close to me. My stepfather, Burke Mealy, was a competitive athlete who lost vision in his right eye during the last 15 years of his life. Amazingly, the change never diminished his focus on competing, he simply had to adjust how he viewed things. Whether it was swimming in a lake, biking the mean streets of Germantown, or running over rocky terrain, I was always amazed by his determination, his calm demeanor, and his ability to push through to the finish. His approach to races was never so much about winning, but about enjoying the process, taking in the environment, and most importantly, having fun. When he and I would compete together, our mantra was always “just get to the finish line” and maybe celebrate with a beer after.  While we lost Burke to brain cancer in 2018, the impression he left in our hearts is ever-present, and I am so excited to run in his name.  

Additionally, I am running to support my rock star coach, Diane Berberian, who also competes as a visually impaired athlete. She has donated endless hours of time to my training and campaign, and there is no way I could do this without her. Diane herself is an accomplished athlete with over 35 years of competitive experience under her belt and is so awesome that the city of Boston has deemed Aug. 22 “Diane Berberian Day!” Diane has become family to me, and her inspiring story of overcoming barriers and navigating obstacles has given me the confidence to take on this journey — I couldn’t be in better hands!

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I am honored to run for my stepfather and Diane, to support like-athletes, and to advocate for those who are blind or visually impaired.

Editor’s note: Entry may have been lightly edited for clarity or grammar.

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