A blind man was able to complete the New York City Half Marathon. How he did it? He got some help from guide dogs. This man is Thomas Panek.
For over 25 years, Panek has been blind. But this didn’t stop him from joining the race and completing it. He was determined to join and he did. He was able to complete the marathon in 140 minutes.
He had guide dogs to help him. Thomas is the very first blind man to complete a marathon with the help of these guide animals.
Thomas had a team of guide dogs with him. They are Labrador retrievers and they are Gus, Waffle, and Westley. Each of the dogs had their turn guiding Thomas so he can complete his goal.
Aside from running marathons, Thomas also works as the president and the CEO of Guiding Eyes For The Blind, a non-profit group that trains dogs to help those with visual problems. The organization’s website says that this is provided for free.
Thomas has already tried running with a human to guide him. It was okay for him but it was not enough for him. When he tried to use a guide dog for his training for a marathon, he found that it was something that he liked. It was satisfactory.
There is a difference between a human and a dog guiding you when in a race, says Thomas. When a person is guiding, he feels like he is not running the race the way he wants to. He does not feel independent. However, that independence is given to him by guide dogs.
The non-profit organization that Thomas heads had launched the program Running Guides back in 2015. The aim of this is to help people without sight to enjoy running with the help of guide dogs.
Source: CBS New York