Blind army veteran running Boston Marathon to raise money for people with disabilities

BOSTON — In less than two weeks, the starting gun will be fired in Hopkinton, and thousands of runners will make their way to Copley Square for the running of the Boston Marathon.

Among the expected runners is an Army veteran attempting the Boston Marathon for the first time.

Navigating the hills of the route isn’t Rob Sanchas’ only challenge. He’s also legally blind.

When he was enlisted, he had an accident. “I actually have double vision in each eye separately, so I see four of everything, so I am legally blind.”

Despite that, running Boston for the first time will be his 14th marathon overall.

“The Boston Marathon for most runners is what they call the Holy Grail. You know, that’s the one marathon everybody wants to do and many can’t,” said Sanchas.

But Sanchas can, thanks to a running guide who’ll be on the other end of a bungee cord connecting the two of them.

“I’ll always call my guide my superhero. They’re heroes without capes,” added Sanchas. “He’s not just running for himself. He’s running with a responsibility. My life is in his hands.”

For Jeremy Howard, an experienced marathoner, this was his first time as a running guide.

“So, it’s calling out any undulations in the ground, obviously any larger hazards that might occur,” said Howard.

This team is running for a Boston-based organization called the Play Brigade. They’re dedicated to reducing barriers of all kinds to physical activities for people with disabilities.

For months, the duo has braced cold windy days along the Rhode Island coast to train.

Although they’re looking forward to crossing the finish line, they both feel like they’re already winners.

Howard, who’s run the Boston Marathon before, said “I’ve gone around the corner before onto Boylston and the crowds are immense there, and thick, and the noise. If you’re doing it for yourself, it’s incredibly moving. It’s going to be on a whole other level this year. I can’t wait.”

“I’ll be like, pinch me,” said Sanchas with a laugh. “Is this really happening?”

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