Commentary: Running for a Cause

With marathon season in full swing, we constantly see and hear stories about people walking and running for a variety of reasons. Some do it to raise funds for their favorite nonprofit or a cause dear to their hearts, while others simply do it for fun and exercise. Jason Romero is one such individual, and he hopes to be the first legally blind person to run across the entire United States. With a few marathons and even an ultramarathon already under his belt, Romero is prepared to undertake this new venture in his running career. He began his journey in California in late March, and hopes to arrive in Boston by the end of May.

Marathons and other events are a great way to both support important causes and build awareness. To me, that’s the second most important aspect of such events. In Jason Romero’s case, for instance, he is simply running to create awareness about the lack of employment and other opportunities for those who are blind or visually impaired. As someone who has experienced these challenges, he knows firsthand how important it is to make the general public aware about such disparities.

Most of us view runners and other athletes as an inspiration. I think that is especially true of those with disabilities, and maybe it is because the media tend to focus on this group more than anyone else. Each year, particularly during major marathons like those in Boston, London and New York, we see news stories about athletes with hard to treat diseases or who have severe disabilities. In recent weeks, I have read several articles about runners who are blind, missing a limb or have other medical conditions. Indeed, these athletes can serve as an inspiration to everyone, but I think we should view all athletes that way.

Each and every athlete deserves recognition, regardless of their abilities. After all, it takes a tremendous amount of physical, emotional and mental strength to complete all types of running events. Whether someone is participating in his or her first 3 K run/walk or running an ultramarathon, all athletes work hard well before each event to accomplish their goals. Athletes with disabilities or other hardships aren’t any different, except for the fact that they might have to overcome other challenges most people have never experienced.

 

Local nonprofits also organize running and walking events to raise money and spread awareness. The District 1-A Lions Helen Keller 5 K Run/Walk, organized by the Lions Clubs in Illinois, will be held on Sunday, April 24. This annual event raises funds for several nonprofits serving individuals who are blind or have visual and hearing impairments, including The Chicago Lighthouse. Participants and their families also get to enjoy a day filled with food, music and fun!

My best wishes go out to everyone participating in marathons or other races. I can only imagine the effort and hard work involved in both preparing and participating in such events. Kudos to all runners, you deserve our admiration and respect! No matter the finishing place or cause supported, all participants are winners! To find out more about Jason’s progress in his run across America, visit this page. If you would like to participate in the District 1-A Lions Helen Keller 5 K Run/Walk, you can find out more information and register here. On behalf of all of us at The Chicago Lighthouse, thanks in advance for your support!

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