Aug. 23, 2019

Many of you that have gotten to know me understand I love running. I find my time on the road (or treadmill) is a great way to reflect on the day allowing for a more

positive outlook. I also have a fun habit of creating new routes in each city I travel to, I have lots in case any of you are interested. This past Memorial Day I was asked if I would be interested in running my first marathon, but with one caveat, it would be with another runner, one that is visually impaired. I thought 26.2 miles sounded awful, but there is another person willing to put in the time and effort there is no reason to say no, especially since I am fortunate enough to have my vision.



June 1st I began a journey with DJ Robinson who is a college student at UNC Charlotte majoring in Exercise Science; Dance: Performance and Theory as he looked to run his first marathon while also qualifying for the Boston Marathon. DJ is an incredible young man that draws the best out of everyone. We were introduced through an organization called Para-Guide, a Charlotte based non-profit that enables para-visually impaired individuals to experience a more enriched life through guided physical activity. Para Guide supports over 40 visually impaired athletes in the Charlotte area plus an additional 20+ athletes in different cities throughout the country. They will guide anyone that wishes to walk 1 mile to the likes of DJ that is willing to conquer a marathon as well as those more interested in swimming or cycling. Pretty cool.



Last Friday I hopped on a plane and headed for Charlotte to accomplish three things; spend time with a friend and fellow American Airlines pilot, obtain my FAA flight physical, and run a 10k with DJ as a warm up for our marathon in October. DJ does his weekly training runs (40+ miles) on a treadmill and another volun- teer Guide runs with him on his long runs on Saturdays (2+ hours). The 10k was a great test of fitness and the hard work and training DJ has put in really showed.

  

On October 6th I will run as a Scout for DJ and Gray (another Para Guider) will be his Guide for the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. As a Scout I get to run 5-20ft ahead clearing the path and pointing out terrain changes or obstacles, kind of like a really good Air Traffic Controller. The past few months have taught me more about myself and my ability as a human, but also how difficult effective and timely communication can be. As a Guide you are the eyes for the visually impaired athlete and must paint the road for them so they can focus on their running. I know this will translate into allowing me to be a better communicator in all areas of my life.


I didn’t want to write another article talking about all the normal airline pilot stuff we do so I hope this was something a little different that provided you with an insider view to what I have been doing this summer. You can follow DJ’s progress via the Para Guide website or on social media, just reading his story is inspiring. Thanks for reading.

Tony