Blind runner completes half-marathon with help from guide dogs

Posted: Updated:
WESTCHESTER -

A Westchester man was one of thousands to complete the New York City Half-Marathon this weekend, but he did it with help from three four-legged friends.

Thomas Paneck is blind due to a genetic condition. He became the first and only blind runner to complete the half-marathon with the help of guide dogs.

"Running through the streets of New York, not being able to see ... there were really times during that race I had to trust the dogs not to guide me into the river," says Paneck.

The 48-year-old says after losing his sight, he began running marathons with the help of human guides, but he wanted to be able to run again indepednently.

The president of Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights began training guide dogs for the job.

Months of training with his team made up of labradors Waffle, Westley and Gus paid off Sunday, finishing the race in 2 hours and 21 minutes.

Paneck says becoming blind may be a disability, but what's next is up to you.

"You can either give up and that's it, or you can get out there and make the most of it," says Paneck. "So don't feel sorry for me, I feel sorry for all the people that i beat in the race."

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