Twenty years ago, women’s volleyball coach Michael Bruno quit long distance running after an achilles injury in the 1993 Pittsburgh Marathon, but in two weeks, he’ll run again for the sake of his daughter.
WTAE Pittsburgh reported that this time, when the gun goes off at the starting line, Bruno will run the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon blindfolded in honor of his 7-year-old daughter Cassie, who was born blind. He’s running to raise money for the Vision Research ROPARD Foundation (VRRF) through a website he’s launched, 26.2 Blindfolded, and he’s also trying to put himself in Cassie’s running shoes. He wrote on his site:
Like all fathers, I want to be able to help guide and direct my children though [sic] life. Having a vision impaired daughter obviously has added additional challenges and tribulations to my duties as a parent. This year, I decided to knock the 20 years of dust off my running shoes and run the Pittsburgh Marathon. However this time with a caveat — I am going to deprive myself of the primary sense of vision by blindfolding myself. My friend and co-worker, Jim Irvin will be my sighted guide. My intentions are to raise awareness and money for Vision Research ROPARD Foundation (VRRF). More importantly, I hope to gain a better understanding of what Cassie deals with on a daily basis. I hope this blindfolded journey through the “Burgh” will ultimately make me a better father to guide Cassie through life. Your support is greatly appreciated. - Mike
Cassie was born prematurely at only 25 weeks, so she was not fully developed and unfortunately, both retinas were detached. “It was the scariest day of my life. It was rough. It was very rough,” Cassie’s mom, Jennifer Bruno said. “One of the most heartbreaking things ever, I mean, everyone always wants a perfect life for their child, and to sit there and hold this tiny baby and be told that she’d never see. My world shattered for her.”
Along with being blind, Cassie is also autistic, however her proud dad said, “The way she just gets around is just amazing.” Big sister Carly may only be 9-years-old, but even she can identify with her sister’s challenge. “Sometimes I walk around the house with my eyes closed to feel what it’s like for her. It’s kind of scary because you don’t know where anything is.”
So on May 5, the Brunos will cheer on Michael as he runs all 26.2 miles with his coach and friend, Jim Irvin by his side to guide him all the way to the finish line. “I think most people would say people are insane for running the marathon, let alone doing it like this. What he’s doing is twice as hard as what I’m doing. He’s put a lot of trust in me,” said Irvin.