Thomas Panek doesn’t let his blindness stop him from staying fit. The current pandemic posed a unique new hurdle for Thomas: eager to stay in shape but gym shutdowns and other restrictions initially hindered his ability to keep up his regular pace. Luckily, Blaze, his guide dog, serves as his outdoor running guide, “I’m doing all the things a person would normally do, except I’m doing it with the help of a best friend who happens to be 77 pounds of love wrapped in soft yellow fur,” Panek said.

Thomas is a multi-award winning marathon runner who defied the traditional Guide Dog system that didn’t allow guide dogs to be running companions, and in 2019, he became the first blind finisher of the New York City Half Marathon to be guided entirely by dogs.

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