PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – About 6,300 runners will take part in this year’s Pittsburgh marathon, and 6,299 of them will see every one of the 26.2 miles of the course.
But one of those runners won’t see a single step, because Mike Bruno will run the marathon blindfolded.
“I was at home on the Montour trail,” Bruno told KDKA-TV Sports, “and I was walking and reflecting on the path my daughter has to take in life, so decided to shut my eyes.”
His daughter, 7-year-old Cassie, is legally blind.
“She was born at 25 weeks gestational age,” Bruno said. “She did 114 days in the NICU at Magee Hospital. Because of her extreme prematurity her retinas had detached, and she’s visually impaired because of it.”
And so Bruno, the Women’s Volleyball coach at Point Park University, turned to his friend Jim Irwin, the Point Park Cross Country coach, with an idea.
“We had just finished the season,” Irwin says, “and I got the text from Mike saying I’ve got a crazy idea, you willing to go for it? Sure.”
It hasn’t been easy. We’re not talking about a simple walk down a trail. This is a full marathon, blindfolded and tethered.
“It’s very, very scary,” Irwin said. “A marathon is hard to run as it is. To run by myself is one thing. Instead I’m not only running it for myself, I’m running it as Mike’s eyes and his communication, and as it’s taken off I feel the distinct responsibility to run it for Cassie.”
“It has been overwhelming,” Bruno said. “I’m so humbled by outpouring of support, compassion, generosity. It has exceeded my expectations when we started to do this. Through this process, I reflect back 7 years to when Cassie was first born, and it was trying time for our family. I’ve learned why we were blessed with our daughter in this situation. She’s a very charismatic little girl — wins people over like that.”
For more information and to donate, visit: www.26-2blindfolded.com