Employee Guides Visually Impaired Man in Boston Marathon

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Francis David began running six years ago as a way to cope with his mother’s death and get healthy. Now he’ll be running the famed race to help another man accomplish a personal goal.

Francis David is not your typical runner.

Sure, he is fit, fast and an ambassador for an athletic shoe company who is running the Boston Marathon on Monday.

But those things are not what makes the 34-year-old Oakland resident and the region’s associate director of Finance stand out.

David is running the famed race not for himself, but to help another man accomplish a personal goal.

He is guiding 40-year-old Kyle Robidoux of Massachusetts through a sea of runners and obstacles that would not faze most participants but could be hazardous to the visually impaired Robidoux. David will be tethered to him during the 26.2-mile race and will be using verbal cues and gentle nudges to alert Robidoux of any dangers along the course.

The two connected through the athletic shoe company that both are ambassadors for. David has never been a guide before, but the task spoke to him.

David began running six years ago as a way to cope with his mother’s death and get healthy.

“We were very close, and I began to withdraw after her passing,” he said. “I had gained 60 pounds and was on the verge of having high blood pressure, and diabetes was looming.”

One day, David went through his mother’s diary and came across an entry in which she wrote that she had accepted that she would pass as a result of ovarian cancer, but she wished that he and his sister would remain strong and healthy to know their children and grandchildren.

He realized he was not leading the life that his mother would have wanted for him.

“So I began to run, like Forrest Gump,” he said. “Running brought me out of my grief.”

Today, he considers himself an above-average weekend-warrior runner.

A Very Humbling Experience

David hasn’t met Robidoux in person, but they talk every two weeks. They are meeting for the first time just before for the big race, which they hope to complete in 3 hours, 50 minutes.

To help prepare, David has been running three to four days a week, covering nearly 40 miles each week and will do one practice run just before for the big race.  He also served as a sighted guide in a 16-mile training run. Meanwhile, Robidoux has been training hard in Massachusetts. They both say they are up for the challenge.

“I have trained for the past four months, and I’m ready to run my fastest marathon to date,” said Robidoux. “Boston is a tough course to PR (personal record) on, but I am going to give it my all and with David guiding, I will be able to focus solely on running my race. I hope to have fun while running, take in all of the crowds, and cross the finish line with a smile on my face.“

It’s already been a rewarding experience for David.

“Running is usually a solo endeavor, but this makes it more of a team sport,” David added. “I will be running to help someone else, the way that running inspired me. This entire experience has been very humbling and has taught me to not take anything for granted. I am definitely getting more than I am giving.”

Discussion3 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Karen Messersmith

    Great job, Francis! I am sitting at my desk at Kaiser Stockton reading this great article while I proudly wear my 2012 Boston Marathon shirt. As I track a friend and think of you out there, I relive my great race day in Boston 🙂

    Congratulations on your race and what an awesome thing to do for a fellow runner. Kudos to you, Francis!!! I plan on requalifying in Vegas in Nov and going back to run Boston in 2018!

  2. Avatar

    Francis, you’re such a great person. I could tell the first time we met. Best of luck to you and Kyle, enjoy every minute.

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