Thomas Panek, a visually-impaired man, created history at the New York Half Marathon in March 2019. And why? He completed the race. But no, this is not why he created history. He set a record when he completed the race with the help of guide dogs. His running mates were three Labrador Retrievers – Waffle, Westley, and Gus. Wesley and Waffle are siblings whereas Gus is Panek’s full-time guide dog.
These three dogs took turns to accompany him over the stretch of 13.1 miles, each running between 3 to 5 miles. However, his long-time guide Gus helped him reach the finish line. Panek completed the race in two hours, 20 minutes, and 51 seconds.
We found him!!! pic.twitter.com/Rom9mK29dF
— Lydia S. Hu (@LydiaHuNews) March 17, 2019
Panek lost his vision when he was in his early twenties. However, being an enthusiastic runner, he did not want to give up running. Despite his blindness, he did run through many marathons with the help of a human guide. However, he missed the independence that came with running all by himself.
This inspired him to establish the innovative and first-of-its-kind Running Guides Program that trains dogs to support runners. He is currently the President and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a non-profit organization that runs the Running Guides program. Currently, twenty four dogs have completed the program and a dozen more are on their way to completion. Apart from this, the organization works to enrich the lives of the blind by providing them with well-trained guide dogs.
Isn’t this a wonderful piece of news that just brightens up your day? Let us know your views in the comments section below.