UNTHSC med students guiding blind runners through Cowtown Half Marathon

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Scott Hudson is 62 and legally blind, with a degenerative eye condition that leaves him unable to distinguish much of anything beyond light and dark.

But that hasn’t stopped him from downhill skiing, hiking through national parks, or his latest adventure ­- attempting the Cowtown Half Marathon. With the help of UNT Health Science Center’s Reid Golden, a second-year medical student, Hudson has been training since November on trails around Fort Worth.

“There’s nothing remarkable about it,” said Hudson, a retired vocational rehabilitation counselor with the Texas Division for Blind Services. “What is remarkable is that there are volunteers like Reid who are willing to help.”

The partnership was Golden’s idea. The 28-year-old former Peace Corps volunteer has several marathons and ultra-marathons under his belt. At a race in Houston, he noticed several guides helping visually impaired runners navigate the course.

Inspired, Golden contacted Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth and offered his services. The nonprofit organization connected Golden and a UNTHSC classmate, second-year medical student John Myers, with Hudson and another blind runner. Both duos plan to run in the Half Marathon.

Golden and Hudson use a short rope with handles on each end to stay connected. They say the keys to guiding visually impaired runners are to synchronize their strides and arm movements, to respond to the tension and slackening of the rope and to maintain constant verbal communication.

There have been no mishaps, save a near-accident on a patch of ice where both men briefly slipped but stayed upright.

“We didn’t fall,” Golden said. “But even if we did, Scott is not the type of person who would let that stop him.”

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