Blindfolded Bruno completes run to fight condition that has left his daughter blind
TribLIVE Sports Videos
On Saturday, the day before running blindfolded in the Pittsburgh Marathon, Mike Bruno took a light jog on the Roaring Run trail in Apollo, where he grew up. He stopped to rest on a bench he memorialized to his father and pondered the task ahead and also recalled a long-ago conversation with his dad, who died in 2011.
“I was telling him I had aspirations of a running career,” said Bruno, once a standout distance runner at Robert Morris. “He said, ‘You'll never make any money. Get a job.' ”
Bruno paused and smiled. The Point Park University volleyball coach had heeded the advice.
“But, due to the outpouring of generosity, kindness and support, this community proved my dad wrong,” he said.
Cash donations continue to roll in from the efforts of Bruno, his wife, Jennifer, and others to fight the rare disease that robbed one of the Brunos' daughters of her sight. More than $24,000 was raised as of Sunday morning, Jennifer Bruno said, and more is expected now that her husband and “guide runner” Jim Irvin have completed their unique mission.
Tethered to Irvin arm-to-arm by an 18-inch nylon cord, Bruno, 44, covered the 26.2 miles blindfolded to promote the cause (their time was 3:38.51) and gain a better understanding of what 7-year-old Cassie Bruno confronts each day of her life. About four months after her premature birth she was diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity, which causes blindness. She also is autistic.
But there she was, tiny and curly-haired, sitting in a big red wagon, waiting to greet her daddy after the race with a kiss and big squeeze around his neck. Her 9-year-old sister, Carly, was there, too, along with an army of friends and relatives.
“I'm so proud of him,” Kathy Bruno said of her son. “What he did was awesome. He's so genuine with his feelings for other people, especially special-needs children. He would help anybody, but this was over the top.”
Carly put it another way.
“I think it's really cool,” she said.
Things were not so cool during the last five or six miles, when temperatures quickly warmed.
“It was hard out there,” said Irvin, 49, the Point Park men's and women's cross country coach. “It was really hot coming in. And Mike was starting to get all weebly-wobbly disoriented, not being able to see.”
Said Bruno, “I know I was a pain in the (rear) there for a while. I was weaving. He was struggling. So I was trying to help him out, but when I was weaving I knew I wasn't doing him any justice.”
This was the first marathon for Bruno in 20 years and the first for Irvin in 15.
The last one, Irvin said, “was nothing like this.”
Both said the shared communication was good and the crowd support was terrific.
“I had total trust in Jimmy,” Bruno said. “And the people that cheered and encouraged us, it was just amazing.”
Maybe a bit too amazing on occasion.
“With the crowd and the bands, as motivating as it was for me, sometimes it was sensory overload,” Bruno said. “Sometimes there was a great crowd when we had to make a turn, and it's real loud, and I'm trying to gain my bearings. That was a real challenge.”
There were other challenges, such as one runner who cut in front of the pair to grab a “gu pack” (an energy food that sounds like its name), and another who stopped cold with a pulled hamstring. Irvin and Bruno nearly ran each of them over.
“I jerked Mike around and said, ‘We're not stopping,' ” Irvin said of the hamstrung runner encounter. “We did not feel good.”
That came later.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Burnett writing incredible final chapter
- Man wanted on rape, attempted homicide charges in Beaver County arrested in Fla.
- Crazy Mocha owner likes comfort, says shrewd decisions foster growth
- Living Treasures animal park plans upset Liberty residents
- Alvarez’s walk-off single lifts Pirates over Padres
- Fire destroys unoccupied Fayette home
- Pair charged with prostitution-related offenses in South Greensburg
- Plum school board berated for pulling back on new school
- Woman charged with leaving young boys in hot car at Zelienople bar
- Pirates notebook: Four players selected for All-Star Game
- Torn thumb ligament puts Pirates’ Harrison on 15-day disabled list