04/24/2013 02:02 pm ET

Mike Bruno To Run Pittsburgh Marathon Blindfolded To Support Child Who's Visually Impaired

This daring dad certainly gets extra points for creativity.

To honor his 7-year-old daughter who's visually impaired, Mike Bruno plans to run the Pittsburgh Marathon without one of his key senses: sight. The Pennsylvania father will blindfold himself before the May 5 race and run all 26.2 miles without the use of his vision.

"I used to go for walks," Bruno told USA Today Sports. "I shut my eyes and took 10 steps for the first time. Then I took 15. Then I tried for 20. And then I tried running with my eyes shut just to get a sense of what my daughter Cassie goes through."

Bruno explained to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that his daughter Cassie, who also has autism, was born prematurely at 25 weeks. Since her eyes were unable to fully develop, Cassie suffers from retinal detachments and has been legally blind her entire life.

Bruno hopes that by running the marathon as Cassie would, he will be able to understand her daily struggle in order to better help her.

"Having a vision-impaired daughter obviously has added additional challenges and tribulations to my duties as a parent," Bruno wrote in a statement on his website. "I hope this blindfolded journey through the 'Burgh' will ultimately make me a better father to guide Cassie through life."

Bruno, the head volleyball coach at Point Park University, was an avid runner in college but hasn't run a race of this length in 20 years. However, once the 44-year-old took up running again in November, he had an epiphany: Why not run for charity and add a unique twist?

To complete the race Bruno enlisted the help of a friend and co-worker, Point Park cross country coach Jim Irvin, to serve as his sighted guide throughout the race. Coordinating with the Vision Research ROPARD Foundation (VRRF), Bruno set up a website, 26.2, to raise awareness and accept donations for his endeavor. All contributions will fund VRRF-sponsored research for adults and children with retinal problems.

The Pennsylvania father hopes to gain $1,000 for every kilometer of the race -- $42,000 in sum. At the time this story was published, Bruno's goal was 34 percent complete.



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