our blog


Overcoming Obstacles -- I’m guiding the first blind athlete to run across the Grand Canyon and back in one day and would love your support!

by Alison Qualter Berna

Try to close your eyes for 10 seconds.
Now open them. Imagine that when you open them, you’re still surrounded by darkness.
Imagine if everything – your job, much of your independence, your ability to see the ones you love – had slowly faded away.

That’s what happened to my friend Dan Berlin. Dan slowly lost his sight in his 30s from a degenerative condition called cone rod dystrophy. 

What inspires me about Dan is that he decided to become a marathoner only 5 years ago, after he went blind. Next week, Dan will attempt to become the first blind athlete to run across the Grand Canyon and back in one day.

Tomorrow, October 7, my friends Charles Scott, Brad Graff and I will guide Dan on a 46-mile "rim to rim to rim" run from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River, up to the North Rim, back down to the River and then back up to the original starting point. It's intense, dangerous, includes over 20,000 feet of elevation change, and this is an ambitious bucket list challenge for ultra runners. 

With one week to go, the four of us are raising money for blindness research, specifically for two organizations that have an impact on Dan’s life. The Blind Institute of Technology is a nonprofit whose mission is to prepare the visually impaired and the employers who hire them for success in the workplace. The urgent mission of the Foundation Fighting Blindness is to drive the research that will provide preventions, treatments and cures for people affected by the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases.

You can find more information on their websites and you can help us by making a donation – however big or small! – at the fundraising page we created for this run:


Even a few dollars can make a difference, and please know that I deeply appreciate your support.

We have a photographer who will film the experience, and ultimately produce a short documentary focused on facing adversity and overcoming obstacles.

I am nervous, already questioning how much willpower each of us will have to counter our body’s inevitable breakdown. But my predominant feeling is motivation. Dan faced adversity in a way that deeply inspires me. In losing his sight, he gained a different kind of strength. We all have obstacles we would like to overcome – sometimes small, sometimes seemingly insurmountable – but this “what are you waiting for” approach to life is one I aspire to (and I admit that before even finishing this run, I’m already planning my next adventure!)

No comments:

Post a Comment