Adopted Blind Teen Sisters Inspire Each Other While Running Cross Country

Blind sisters encourage each other while running cross country

Photo: Velleta Scott

The inability to see doesn’t stop blind sisters Jenna and Rosanna Scott from running cross country – in fact, it motivates them to work harder.

The girls became best friends after rooming together in China’s Bethel Foster Home, a center for visually impaired orphans. When Travis and Velleta Scott heard about their friendship, they couldn’t bear to separate the two, so they chose to adopt both of them, officially making them sisters in 2008 when they brought them to the U.S. to start a new life.

Jenna, 15, and Rosanna, 16, grew up participating in “visually impaired friendly sports” such as Judo, but it wasn’t until last year when they started eighth grade at West Fork Middle School in West Fork, Arkansas, that the two joined the cross country team.

“I love the exercise, I love to move,” Jenna tells PEOPLE. “It’s hard for me to avoid falling on hills, but I get right back up with motivation from my coach and from my teammates cheering me on.”

Becky Ramsey, West Fork Middle School principal, played a large role in encouraging Jenna and Rosanna to pursue running on her school’s team.

“At first people were like ‘They can’t run, they’re blind!’ ” Ramsey tells PEOPLE. “I was like, ‘No, they can do anything.’ And look, they’ve excelled beyond everyone’s expectations. They go above and beyond every day, they both have an incredible work ethic.”

Velleta, their adoptive mother, who also acts as the girls’ English-language Braille teacher, says she couldn’t be more proud of her daughters, who use guide runners to help them avoid rocks and roots on the rough outdoor terrain they take on during meets.

“Guides help them stay on course, they are connected by a rope to stay close together. The guide swings their arms to the tune of the runner and shouts out if they are going uphill, or if there is a ditch in the ground,” she tells PEOPLE. “I don t worry about them getting hurt though. They just want to live life and be like everybody else.

“There are moments where they say ‘This is so much harder for us because we can’t see!’ But they work hard and they don’t let it stop them from doing anything.”

Jenna and Rosanna started their second season of cross country this year as ninth graders at West Fork High, and have experienced tremendous success competing at meets all across the state.

Jenna says at their latest race in Van Buren, Arkansas, she came in seventh place and her sister in eleventh.

“I push my sister and she pushes me,” says Jenna. “We are competitive, but we support each other. I tell her if she doesn t hurry up, I’ll catch her!”

Related Articles