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Cindy Smith of Fridley returns to her seat after a round Nike Vapormax Plus Colorways
"Your jaw just drops at how good they are," exclaimed Catalina Roisum of Richfield, another member of the league.
finishing training at the center in preparation for a job filling vending machines in state and federal buildings, part of a federal program that gives the task to blind people.
But the league has sighted players, too, who usually join through a friend or loved one in the league. To eliminate any controversy, rules require that both sighted and blind players wear blindfolds while throwing.
was 14, Smith joined the league as a way to continue socializing as she prepared to retire from her job teaching braille at Vision Loss Resources about a year ago. The Minneapolis organization provides services to blind people and has helped connect several members of the league.
The blind dart league came to Richfield in September, making the VFW one of four home bases for the league's eight teams. "Darters," as players call themselves, come from across the Twin Cities to throw in what, according to League President Charlene Doll, is the only formal blind dart league in the country.
"Sometimes I have to remember to put my blindfold down, because I wouldn't know the difference anyway," said Smith, 61.
"I shoot better with a blindfold," said Kelly Peterson, Chris Peterson's sighted teammate and wife.
"We would go over there and drink and throw darts," Peterson said, remembering he was usually a pretty good match for his sighted foes.
Bullseyes for the blind at the Richfield VFW
Plastic tipped darts in hand, darters step up to a raised plank of wood representing the throw line, and throw the regulation distance at the talking dart board. The automated feminine voice lets them know what part of the board was hit, and the thrower adjusts from there.
of throws during competition in the Twin Cities Blind Audio Dart League Tuesday, Jan. 7, when two teams met at the American Legion in Richfield. Behind Smith are fellow league members New Peterson puts it another way: "For me, it's an excuse to leave the house once a week. And maybe put some pants on."
"It got so bad that I couldn't see across the street anymore," recalled Bloomst, who captains a team Nike Air Vapormax Triple Black On Feet that was throwing darts at the VFW against Peterson's squad earlier this month.
He pointed out that no one can see what he's wearing anyway, although there Nike Vapormax Black Purple
If the darter's blind aim is too far off, a sighted spotter is on hand to announce just how far, and in what direction, the target area is. It is a game the league has been playing since 1988, Doll said.
The talking dart board emits a friendly chime when it happens, and on cue, the crowd goes wild. This occurred in a back room at VFW Post 5555 in Richfield on a Tuesday evening early this month.
That was how Paul Bloomst, of St. Paul, found the league as he adjusted to a life without sight. The 43 year old is
Members of the blind dart league range from novice to expert.
"That's a pretty special thing, getting a bullseye," explained Chris Peterson, who captains one of the two dart teams throwing that night.
Roisum helped them secure the VFW as a venue through her membership in the Lions Club, which also meets at the establishment.
A block of wood marks the throwing line for competition in the Twin Cities Blind Audio Dart League. The line is placed regulation distance, 7 feet and 9.25 inches, from the board. (Sun Current staff photo by Andrew Wig)
Thirty six years old and born blind, Peterson works from his Richfield home as a computer programmer. He regained an interest in darts in recent years after first picking up the game in college, throwing at his sighted friends' apartment.
Ellen Harrity of New Hope throws at a talking dart board during competition in the Twin Cities Blind Audio Dart League, which had two teams meeting at the Richfield American Legion Tuesday, Jan. 7. Standing by are Chris Peterson of Richfield, right, and Cindy Smith of Fridley. (Sun Current staff photo by Andrew Wig)
On the other hand, the blindfold can get Fridley resident Cindy Smith in trouble.
The former delivery worker remembers the day three years ago when he suddenly learned his life of sight was over.
The idea, she explained, is to provide an outlet for blind people looking for something to do and people to meet, while reaching out to a wider, sighted community.
were three sighted people in the room.
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