Here’s an amazing story coming out of New York, about a legally blind man by the name of Tom Panek, who is legally blind, and his guide dog, Gus.
When Tom was in his 20s, a genetic condition caused him to lose his sight, which he described to NBC as “Basically like seeing the world disappear in front of you”
One of the things he really missed about being fully sighted was running. Although Tom soon learned to run with human guides, he longed for more independence.
Thomas Panek made history at the NYC Half Marathon today, becoming the first blind runner to complete a half marathon with a canine companion.@KristenDahlgren shared this story this week on @NBCNightlyNews. pic.twitter.com/i2c4xeZwpC
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) March 17, 2019
This is where he had an idea – dogs love to run, so why not take his guide dog along for the ride?
“It never made sense to me to walk out the door and leave my guide dog behind when I love to run and they love to run,” he said. “It was just a matter of bucking conventional wisdom and saying why not.
Tom and his guide dog Gus took to it really well, and made a great team, which made Tom want to encourage others to do the same.
A big thank you to our friends at @NYRR for their support and accommodation which makes today's #UnitedNYCHalf marathon for Thomas and the relay of running guide dogs a reality. pic.twitter.com/mAYaKiw3EK
— Guiding Eyes (@GuidingEyes) March 17, 2019
Tom is president and CEO of Guiding Eyes For The Blind, and in 2015, Mr Panek established the Running Guides programme, which trains dogs to support runners. It
Although Tom has achieved a lot already, this week saw him facing his biggest challenge yet – becoming the first legally blind participant to complete a half-marathon, assisted only by dogs.