Nathan Cruse, a third-year doctoral student in the School of Occupational Therapy, was part of a volunteer team organized by Achilles International to guide a blind runner through the 26.2-mile New York City Marathon on Nov. 3. Cruse signed up to be a guide in May and was chosen to be one of three individuals to guide runner Theresa Khayyam. In the months leading up to the marathon, he guided Khayyam in training runs once or twice a week, working on running in unpredictable weather and on unfamiliar courses to increase her confidence in her abilities and her faith in her guides.
“I love the feeling of completing a race, knowing that all the sweat and pain of training has truly paid off,” said Cruse. He added, “I have always imagined what it would feel like to cross the finish line of the New York City Marathon. Little did I know that taking a back seat and standing alongside another runner while she completed the race would be an even greater experience,” said Cruse, an avid runner.
Cruse has become increasingly involved with Achilles International, an organization that coordinates guides for athletes with disabilities. He participates in weekly runs and has performed guide duties for athletes with a wide variety of disabilities, from cerebral palsy to visual impairments to spinal cord injuries.
“It is an amazing opportunity to help others find joy in an activity that has become such a big part of my life,” he said.
On race day, Cruse ran alongside of Khayyam as she trekked through all five boroughs of New York City, battling exhaustion and chilly morning air while being encouraged by enormous crowds.
“The running was completely her own,” said Cruse, “and through determination and perseverance, Theresa completed the marathon in six hours, 45 minutes and 34 seconds. I could not have been prouder to stand by her side.”