Blind Runner Preps for Charity Run Around United States

May 02, 2014 by NYRR staff

If David Kuhn were simply a 61-year-old grandfather preparing to run 11,000 miles around America, his would be an awe-inspiring story. But there’s more to it than that.

First, there’s the reason for his journey. Kuhn’s 11-year-old granddaughter has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, and the resident of DeKalb, IL, has committed himself to fighting the deadly disease.

His goal is to raise at least $500,000, but here’s where it goes from admirable to truly amazing: Kuhn is blind, and as he hits the four corners of the United States—beginning and ending in Seattle, WA, and passing through Bangor, ME, Jacksonville, FL, and San Diego, CA, along the way—he’ll rely completely on sighted guides.

“[For] someone born with cystic fibrosis, [the] average life expectancy is 35, and it’s a real rough 35 years,” he said, according to Runner’s World. “Nine years from now, I’ll be 70, twice as long as the average life expectancy of, possibly, my granddaughter. I don’t want to be 70 and look back and say, ‘I could have done something for my granddaughter, but I didn’t.’”

“From this point forward, my life is all about raising money for cystic fibrosis,” Kuhn added. “I’ve been blessed to have an incredible life. [At] the tail end of my life, if I can use all of that energy and all of that time to do something that’ll improve the lives of children born with cystic fibrosis, then it’ll be a good life.”

Through a combination of walking and running, Kuhn plans to cover some 25 miles per day. While he’s yet to work out all the details, he’s hoping people will hear of his plans and volunteer to help out—possibly by forming “caravan crews” of runners to travel with him via mobile home.

He’ll also need sighted guides, and they could conceivably come in “all speeds and sizes,” as Runner’s World points out. Kuhn lost his vision following a 1981 car accident involving a drunk driver, and over the years, he’s been led by everyone from grown men to his five-year-old grandson.

“Along the way, somebody is going to get word of what’s going on and they’re going to have an emotional charge around cystic fibrosis, or children, or they just want to add purpose to their life and this is it,” Kuhn said. “But if I just sit here in the cornfields of DeKalb, nobody’s going to know, so I have to get out there and do this.”

For more information, visit Kuhn’s website.

Categories: Human Interest