Picture of Ivonne and Kyle E. Wardwell, Guide Runner


Diagnosed with retinal cancer, Ivonne lost all of her sight by the time she was two years old. She cannot see any light, shadows, shapes, nothing at all. That doesn’t stop her from living life to its fullest. Ivonne is a 2016 Paralympian in Track & Field, and is a renowned world class triathlete. She has worked in Finance, Project Management, and HR with companies including The Dow Chemical Company, IBM, and The National Science Foundation.

Among her accomplishments, Ivonne was a finalist in the 1500 Meters at the 2016 Paralympic Games, captured the Gold Metal at the 2013 Sprint distance Paratriathlon World Championships in London, which builds upon the Gold medal she earned in the 2009 Olympic Distance Paratriathlon World Championships in Australia . She has also won the female visually impaired division at the Boston marathon three times, and has been the Visually impaired National 5K Champion in the U.S. Since June of 2012, she holds the American record in the 1500 meter distance for Totally Blind Women. Ivonne was the only Totally Blind woman to compete at the inogural IPC Marathon World Cup which was held as part of the 2013 London Marathon. In 2014 she went on to set the World Record for Totally Blind Women in the 3000M and the American record in the 5000M distances, just before being diagnosed with a rare type of Bladder cancer.

Today, Ivonne is a 3-time cancer surviver, and is honored to have represented the USA in Track & Field at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Ivonne continues to work on bridging the disabled and able-bodied communities together, all across the world, through athletics. She constantly draws on her experiences in business, in government, and in the nonprofit sector, to reach as many individuals as possible. Join and follow Ivonne on her journey - Going Beyond!

Read on, and join Ivonne - use her story to inspire and encourage you!



Recent Happenings!

September 17, 2016 - Ivonne takes 6th place in the 1500 meters finals at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio: "After breaking my left foot in early July, I am just blessed and honored to have been able to get to Finals, and to represent the USA! Thank you so much to everyone who has supported and encouraged us along the way- this is truly a moment of a lifetime!Watch Ivonne and Kyle in the 1500m Finals here!

August 28, 2016 - Ivonne and Kyle are in Houston for Team Processing: "It has been incredible to meet fellow Team USA athletes from many different sports, and to be getting the last tid bits of information as we prepare for Rio. Thank you to Nike and Polo Ralph Lauren for the fantastic USA team gear including our Competition uniform! Team USA is so fortunate to have your support!"

July 3, 2016 - US Paralympic Track and Field team is nominated, and Ivonne is "Rio Bound"! Read the Race Recap of The 2016 National Trials Race Here!

May 16, 2016 - Kyle E Wardwell joins Ivonne as her new Guide Runner: "I'm honored and excited to have Kyle as my guide. He brings a great deal of running experience, coaching knowledge, and a great sense of humour to our team! Plus he's a numbers guy with a BS in Biomedical Engineering."

March 1, 2016 - Ivonne is featured in Scientific American's Psychology Textbook: Check out the video here!

December 1, 2015 - Ivonne Speaks With Students at the local high school in Hillman, MI: Catch the news clip!

October 26, 2015 - Ivonne races in the 1500 Meter finals for Totally Blind women at the 2015 IPC World Championships in Doha, Qatar: Watch the incredible race by clicking here!

March 25, 2015 - Ivonne is featured on the Today Show - "It was an honor to share my story with Natalie Morales; she is an incredible woman! She even tried out guiding me along the busy Santa Monica boardwalk!" Watch the video!

February 21, 2015 - Ivonne is heading to New York City for her first round of follow-ups since Surgery. "I am looking forward to this trip with lots of faith and Huge hopes for good news!"Read more!

January 02, 2015 - Ivonne celebrates the New Year with a walk around the track at the Olympic Training Center. "I am greatful to welcome in the New Year with my friend Kristin, and my husband John, at the CVOTC!"Read more!

December 15, 2014 - Ivonne's journey to a full-recovery is underway! "I am thankful for the beautifully warm California sunshine, and all the blessings I have received thus far - It all fuels my spirit with an incredible hope!"Read more!

December 02, 2014 - Ivonne has her first follow-up with Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering today. - "Huge thanks to Dr. Laudone and Dr. Sonoda and their teams for their great work during my surgery. Recovery is going well, which means I get to return home to California!"Read more!

November 27, 2014 - Wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving - "Today is my first day out of the hospital, and I have so much for which to be thankful - Family, friends, supporters, and a brand new day of life, all with God in my heart!"Read more!

November 26, 2014 - Ivonne's surgery went well, and she is resting and recovering comfortably! - "Thank you to everyone for your support, it is incredibly powerful!"Read more!

November 24, 2014 - Donate today by purchasing Ivonne's "Blind Athlete Opens The World" Keychain! - All proceeds go towards Ivonne's treatment and surgery, and medical expenses.Learn More!

November 23, 2014 - Ivonne's surgery is tomorrow morning - "Let's do it! Onward, Through, and Out! Wwith God, Family, Friends by my side, and a strong team of Doctors/Nurses ready to do what they do best, and everyone's support I feel incredibly blessed!"Read more!

November 19, 2014 - Ivonne is in New York City for upcoming surgery. "I'm feeling strong and ready for my upcoming surgery. I trust I am in the good hands of a wonderful team of Doctors."Read more!

November 4, 2014 - Ivonne shares about one of her recent sources of inspiration.Check it out!

October 27, 2014 - Ivonne writes about her internal struggle regarding upcoming surgery.Read more.

October 24, 2014 - The Pericardial Effusion results are looking good - "I'm greatful for the good news and progress we are seeing. Read more!"Click here for more.

October 10, 2014 - Chemotherapy has many side effects - "I'm detoxing/cleansing my body with Diatomaceous Earth"Read more.

September 26, 2014 - Doctors have reviewed all of the recent exams, CT Scan, and MRIs, and have made recommendations for the next phase of Ivonne's cancer treatment. "I am so thankful to my family and friends for their support!"Click here to read about the recommendations.

September 10, 2014 - Ivonne is in New York City for follow-up tests and imaging at Memorial Sloan Kettering. "It's always grate to be back in NYC!"Read more.

September 5, 2014 - Check out Ivonne's new haircut - "Thanks to everyone who joined us for the haircutting ceremony!"Click here for more.

August 29, 2014 - Ivonne completes Chemo at CTCA - "I'm so glad to wrap up this part of my treatment plan!"Click here for more.

August 26, 2014 - "Shout out to the Chula Vista US Olympic Center Staff and to the Vartorella family for their thoughtfulness and well wishes! - "Thank you for your kindness; it fuels my heart and spirit!" Click to read more.

August 21, 2014 - Ivonne is out of the hospital - "The side-effects of Chemo are getting stronger, and led to my being hospitalized for the last 3 days. I fought through it, and I'm out!" Read more

August 15, 2014 - Ivonne is at CTCA For Session #3 of Chemotherapy treatment - "This is my first treatment at CTCA following the first 2 sessions at Memorial Sloan Kettering."Click here for more.

August 12, 2014 - Ivonne donates her long hair to Locks of Love - "It warms my heart to think that someone else will be able to get joy and comfort from my hair. There's always something positive that can come out of difficult times!" Click here for more.

August 9, 2014 - Ivonne will be completing Chemo at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Arizona - "This is a lot closer to home, and the facility is wonderfully serene."Click to read more.

July 31, 2014 - A heart-felt "Thanks" to PepsiCo and Corporate Angel Network for sponsoring Ivonne's flight from Los Angeles to New York City - "The hospitality, compassion and graciousness everyone showed John and me was incredibly moving. I can't thank PepsiCo and Corporate Angels enough for their support during this time in my life!"

July 25, 2014 - Ivonne started Chemotherapy today - "Everything went so smoothly today, it was amazing. Much love and gratitude to my Mother for accompanying me today, and for her unwavering love and support!"

July 17, 2014 - Ivonne receives confirmed Cancer diagnosis - "I have a rare type of cancer called Leiomyosarcoma and it is in my Bladder. I am ready to beat this disease; it's a race I'm determined to win." Read more

July 16, 2014 - Ivonne has completed tests and is awaiting results at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City - "I am greatful to all of the Doctors I have seen so far including Dr. Sherri Donat, Dr. Sonota, Dr. Eric Lis and Dr. Mark Bilsky, Dr. Mary Keohan, and all the Fellows, Nurses, and Lab/Radiology staff. I feel extremely fortunate, and very positive about where I am today, and thank everyone for their time, effort and support. "

July 3, 2014 - Ivonne is in New York City to meet with a renowned staff of Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering - "I've been fighting through some health issues and recovering from emergency surgery. I trust that the Doctors at MSKCC will work with me closely to develop a plan that will bring me back to being 100% healthy! Love and thanks to my family for their love and support; it's emotionally tough for all of us right now, but their love is powerful and uplifting! I hope to be blogging soon about what transpires over the next few days and months."

June 3, 2014 - Shout out to Silk and Karl Kline, Executive Chef at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center! - "I worked with Karl to bring samples of Silk's Almond Milk to the OTC! Karl got my letter into the right hands, and today we received samples of Chocolate and Vanilla flavored Almond Milk! This is Exciting; I can't wait to try them out in smoothies, before/during/after workouts, and in baking recipies!"

April 17, 2014 - Ivonne is in the May issue of Triathlete Magazine. Read about her win at the Paratriathlon World Championships last year as described by her guide, Amanda McCracken. Click here for the article!

March 28, 2014 - Ivonne sets the American record for Totally Blind women in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters guided by Anne Shadle! "This was Anne's first track meet with me, and she guided with confidence and percision. I value her racing background and experience, and look forward to continuing to train and race together!"

March 22, 2014 - Ivonne opens up the outdoor racing season at the Point Loma track meet with first-time guide Paul Coover. “Paul was outstanding - he mastered warming up with me, verbal queues, passing competitors, and more, all while keeping calm and relaxed during all three events; the 1500, the 800, and the 5000 meters. Huge thanks to Paul and to his wife Sam for making this event possible for me!”

February 26, 2014 - Ivonne relocates to train at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista California!

October 1, 2013 – Ivonne will be coached by Joaquim Cruz, a former Olympic Gold and Silver medalist in the 800 and 1500 meters!

September 13, 2013 - Ivonne captures Gold at the Paratriathlon World Championships in London England guided by Amanda McCracken. "Koodos to Amanda as this was her first time guiding in a race! We worked well together, and got through the rainy, slippery and technical bike portion safely! It felt like we were in synch the whole way, right to the finishline!

July 20, 2013 - Ivonne and Ryan Purcell (guide) represent the USA at The 2013 Paralympics Track and Field World Championships in Lyon France. Ivonne ran a personal best in the 800 meter distance finishing in 6th place overall! "Thank you to Ryan for guiding and sharing the experience with me!"

July 14, 2013 - Ivonne, guided by Brittany Ballard, complete the 2013 New York City Triathlon. the pair takes 2nd place in the Tri6A devision with Ivonne's personal best finishing time of 2:50:44 in an olympic distance Triathlon. "I felt strong today and very confident racing with Brittany; she inspired me to really swim, which is how I swam the 1500 meters without a wetsuit and completely with the freestyle stroke!"

June 22, 2013 - Ivonne and Kristin Baker (first-time guide), take first Place of the Tri6 devision at The Edmonton ITU Paratriathlon in Edmonton Canada. "Kristin was fearless on the bike, which is exhilarating, and I am greatful for her willingness to try out guiding and making it possible for me to race today."

June 15-16, 2013 - The Track and Field National Championships, held in San Antonio TX, saw Ivonne run the 800 meter distance in a personal best of 2.44.9, and a season best in the 1500 meters at 5.35. "I couldn't have done it without first-time guides Terry Smith and Irma Garza, respectively. they were fantastic! Thanks also to Catherine, owner of Run Wild Sports, for all of her support and enthusiasm and to her staff who cheered us on."

May 27, 2013 - Ivonne and Melany Hom (Guide) take 2nd Place at the 2013 Paratriathlon National Championships in Austin, TX on Memorial Day!

May 18, 2013 - Ivonne makes the Track and Field National Team at the 2013 Dessert Challenge Games in Mesa, AZ. Just four weeks after running The London Marathon, Bryan Sedlock guided Ivonne in the 800 meter distance to a Personal Best, and onto the T&F team!

May 12, 2013 - Ivonne gets off to a great start at the 2013 Dixie Games, the first Track Meet of the season. first-time guides Andy Gibson, Ryan Purcell and Dan Uishner make it possible!

April 21, 2013 - Ivonne represents Totally Blind Women with a 2nd place finish at the 2013 IPC Marathon World Cup, part of the Virgin London Marathon, in London, England, setting the World Record for Totally Blind Women! Guides Phil Cappa and Bryan Sedlock accompanied Ivonne on the journey through London!


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