Making history

Published in the republican 2019

Carrie Writes
Making History
Carrie Barrepski

In New York City, a man became the first blind person to complete the city’s half marathon. Thomas Panek completed his goal with three service dogs for the blind. Three Labradors led him through 13.1 miles by taking turns in leading him.
Thomas is the president and chief executive officer of a non-profit organization called Guiding Eyes for the Blind. The group matches guide dogs to people with vision loss. In 2015, he developed the Running Guide Program in which dogs are trained to guide blind runners at a running pace.
After losing his sight, Thomas continued with his marathon racing with human guides. He eventually progressed to running with guide dogs. He and his dogs completed this half marathon in 2:20:52.
More often, people with disabilities are looked down upon and perceived as being unable to achieve their goals due to their disabilities. Just because there are limitations does not mean that barriers cannot be overcome.
At times, we have to be creative in finding solutions while experimenting with new ideas and techniques. Life is full of unexplored adventures that are waiting for us. We should not let our disabilities stop us. In an interview, Thomas said, “No matter what your challenge or disability is, you can do it. You can do it, one step at a time.”

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