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Texas

Houston organization helps visually impaired runners run the marathon

Running for hours seems like a lot of hard work, but for athletes like Kevin Orsel, running to the finish line is just the beginning.

HOUSTON. At the Chevron Houston Marathon on Sunday, local organization EyeCan will help several visually impaired runners compete.

Running for hours seems like a lot of hard work, but for athletes like Kevin Orsel, running to the finish line is just the beginning.

“When I was nine months old, I played on the table. He ran away from the table not because he was playing, but because he not only did not see the edge. From the moment I went to the doctor, that’s when they really discovered that yes, he does have glaucoma, and it’s serious,” Kevin said.

This will be Kevin’s seventh time racing, but the journey here began as a child in Haiti.

“It took about 10 years for my parents to complete the immigration paperwork, and everything was done just so I could get to the United States,” he said.

Kevin was able to go to school in Florida where he studied adaptive sports.

“I think that sport is one of those very rare activities that teaches you so much more than you can ever realize in your life,” he said.

And thanks to his now fiancée, who is also visually impaired and a star track and field athlete, Kevin became a runner.

Races like these are made possible by guides like Adam Smook, who is part of the EyeCan Alliance, an organization that helps 38 visually impaired runners navigate the course.

“We do small series of gentle pushes and lots of verbal cues to be able to run through the streets of Houston,” said EyeCan guide Adam.

But it’s the athletes that Smook says showed him something.

“It really inspired me, it was very inspiring in terms of learning and understanding how you can get through this whole challenge to get this far,” he said. “And close your eyes.

Mike Tubiak is another visually impaired runner.

“As soon as he leaves… as soon as he hits this donut, I can’t see my hand, he’s gone. And then it comes back and I see my hand again,” Mike said, explaining his vision.

The relationship they build with their guides can become a lasting friendship.

“We are definitely friends on Facebook or somewhere. There are definitely certain friends that you just know I’m going to, I’m not going anywhere, like you’re stuck with me,” Mike said.

And Kevin, who works for the New Jersey Devils Youth Foundation, has been taught by sports that the only person who needs to see their purpose is yourself.

“Just break it down and then you can do it. It will surprise other people. But it’s like I’m blind.

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