Fun run to be ‘warm up’ for 300-mile wheelchair ride

EVERETT — A Kirkland woman with cerebral palsy’s 300-mile wheelchair odyssey will begin with a warm-up lap at Machinists Union District Lodge 751’s annual Flight for Sight fun run on June 8.

The fun run — which includes timed 5K and 10K races on a USA Track & Field-certified course, as well as a non-competitive 1-mile walk – begins at 9:30 a.m. June 8 at the Boeing Everett Activity Center, 6098 36th Ave. W. Registration information is available online at

TaniaHector9Tania Finlayson plans to start her day at the Flight for Sight. Then that afternoon, she’ll start her attempt to drive her electric-motor wheelchair from Kirkland to Spokane to raise money for people she says are less fortunate than her – those who are blind.

Finlayson – with the help of District 751 union stewards – has been collecting donations for Guide Dogs of America. Her goal is to raise $42,000, which is the cost of breeding, raising, training and pairing one guide dog with a person who is blind. She’s calling her effort the “Spokane Dash for Puppy Cash.”

Finlayson will be escorted during her cross-state journey by her family, in a motor home, and by District 751 volunteers in a union van. Her husband, Ken, will ride alongside much of the way on his bicycle.

If all goes to plan, Tania will arrive in Spokane’s Riverfront Park on June 11.

Finlayson’s journey actually started at last year’s Flight for Sight fun run, which is sponsored by the Women’s Committee at District 751. The union is the top fundraiser for the charity. Over the past four years, Machinists have collected more than $1 million for Guide Dogs of America, including a record $299,000 in 2012.

Finlayson – who communicates through a computer she controls with her head using Morse code – says she tagged along last year to cheer on Ken, who works for the union as an information technology tech. Ken had been training for months to run the 10k portion of the Flight for Sight.

On the way to Everett, Ken convinced Tania that she too should take part in the race.

“As I was doing the race, I thought of how it would be if I was blind,” she said. Trying to drive a wheelchair without her vision “would be pretty scary.”

“Not to mention, it would put limits on my independence, and that would be something that I would just hate,” Finlayson said. “My independence is something that I treasure and value every day.”

That experience got Tania thinking about what she could do to help Guide Dogs of America to help other people.

TaniaHector3When she first approached him with the idea for the Spokane Dash, “I thought she was crazy,” Ken said. “But, I mean, she’s come up with a lot of crazy things. We met skydiving.”

“One thing I learned about Tania,” he continued, “is that it’s a lot more comfortable and safer to get behind her when she gets her mind in something, than get in front of her. Because if you get in front of her, she’ll probably just run you over.”

“People say driving to Spokane is an amazing endeavor,” Tania said. “But in my eyes it is just a pebble in my journey in life, to lend a helping hand to Guide Dogs of America. Hopefully I will be able to help knock a boulder out of someone’s path in their journey in life.”

To donate to the Spokane Dash for Puppy Cash go online at To follow Tania’s journey, “like” her Facebook page:


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