Blind Mid-South student prepares to run in St. Jude Marathon

Updated: Dec. 6, 2019 at 5:28 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Saturday morning, tens of thousands of runners will start their trek for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. But one runner will have a different strategy from all the other athletes.

Running a marathon, 26.2 miles, is grueling. Especially if you're running your first one. ​

"This will be my first time," Anthony Bonetti said.

Anthony Bonetti loves to run.

"I really enjoy just getting out there and getting the adrenaline pumping," Bonetti said.

But because Bonetti was born blind, running the St. Jude marathon provides unique challenges. ​

"I'm relying on my guide to tell me when there's steps coming but other than that I'm just running," Bonetti said.

To finish the race, Bonetti will run with a guide. Dr. Mike Spradlin, professor and President of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary where Bonetti studies biblical counseling, volunteered to run by his side.​ The two will mostly use a chord to stay attached.​

"Just talk him through the course," Dr. Mike Spradlin said. "If there's a step, a bump, a curb. So anything that's an obstacle."

"If there is a misstep on a step there could be accidents," Bonetti said.

Bonetti hopes finishing the marathon will give St. Jude patients hope. ​

"I want people to know who are patients and the families of patients to know that there are people out there that care," Bonetti said.

He also wants to inspire others with handicaps. ​

"I want you guys to know that you can do anything you set your mind to," Bonetti said.

"He's doing this to serve others, not just for a personal accomplishment, even though it is," Dr. Spradlin said. "But it's also to kind of make a statement for other people as well."

Finishing the race is the ultimate goal. The time it takes to do so, is out of Bonetti’s control. ​

"He's got to run at my pace," Dr. Spradlin said with a smile. "So when I told him the pace I said we'll be doing about 12 minutes a mile, I said we're not going fast. He said oh just a little faster than walking."

Bonetti can’t see each step, but he feels his feet on the pavement and he wants his strides to make an impact. ​

"To let other people know, don't be afraid to step out for opportunities," Bonetti said.

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