Guide Dogs Lead Marathon Runner Across Finish Line

Runner Thomas Panek made history on March 17, 2019 after becoming the first blind person to run in the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon without a human guide. Panek, the president and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, ran with three Labrador retrievers that took turns in guiding him as he completed the 13.1 mile race.


All four in the Running Guides Relay Team received their medal.

Guiding Eyes boasts the Blind Running Guides program, the only program in the world where extensively trained dogs enable people who are blind and visually impaired to run with only their guide dog’s support.

Lions have long supported the organization, donating nearly US$750,000 to Guiding Eyes over the past decade, and funding numerous projects and improvements at their headquarters, training center, and veterinary clinics in Yorktown Heights, NY.

Panek, 48, trained in Central Park for six months with his guide dogs, Gus, and siblings Westley and Waffle, he said.

He ran the first five miles of the race with Westley, then five with Waffle, and then 3.1 with Gus, crossing the finish line in Central Park with Gus in two hours and 21 minutes. Panek announced that Gus, his loyal guide dog for five years, would be retiring after the race.