Blind man runs 11,000 miles for sick granddaughter | David Kuhn - KMSP-TV

Blind man running 11,000 miles for sick granddaughter now in MN

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Photo courtesy of David Kuhn on WordPress Photo courtesy of David Kuhn on WordPress
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. (KMSP) -

Love can move people to incredible feats, and that's certainly true of a blind, 62-year-old grandfather who is running 11,000 miles around the United States to raise money to fight cystic fibrosis.

David Kuhn, of DeKalb, Ill., was motivated to embark on the solo footrace because his 12-year-old granddaughter is being ravaged by the life-threatening genetic disorder, which causes severe damage to the lungs and digestive system. He hopes to touch all four corner states of the Union on his cross-country trek, and embarked from Seattle,Wash., on May 15. A little over three months later, he arrived in Minneapolis.

"I have increased my durability the past two years running some 6,300 miles on a country blacktop road near DeKalb, using my cane to follow the side of the road," Kuhn said.


Day 72, taken in Alexandria, Minn. [ENLARGE]

He'll be in town until Aug. 22, but that doesn't mean he's slowing down. He still plans on running 100 miles during his Minnesota stay. So far, he's already completed over 1,400 miles of his journey and is currently en route to Bangor, Maine. After he reaches that destination, he'll turn south and travel through New England down to Jacksonville, Fla. From there, he'll turn west and hoof it to San Diego, Calif. before returning to Seattle to complete the circuit.

Kuhn has plenty of miles behind him already. He completed five Chicago marathons and three Boston marathons in the past few years alone, as well as the California International Marathon. Just last September, he completed two marathons in the same weekend with the help of other runners who led him along the course with a foot-long rope.

On this journey, Kuhn is hoping to raise pledges and donations totaling $500,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Due to his granddaughter's -- Kylie's -- condition, he had wanted to do something to help fund treatment research for the debilitating disease for years. With help from his 37-year-old friend, Renee Kopulos, manning the "mission control" of social media, it's now coming together.

"For someone born with cystic fibrosis, the average life expectancy is 35 years," Kuhn said. "I am nearly double that now, and don't want to look back and say, 'I should have done more to help her.' I don't know how many nails it will take to build a coffin and bury this disease, but if I can help extend the life of those afflicted by one day, it will be worth the effort."

Help Kuhn keep going in Minneapolis

Although the goal of reaching 11,000 miles is an individual one, Kuhn needs help to complete his goal of running 20 miles a day. He needs people who are willing to run with him each day, or someone who can drive him to a local track where he can run unaided. Kuhn said he hopes a volunteer may even be willing to loan or drive a motor home along the route, which would save him lodging expenses.

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After his Minnesota stop, Kuhn will cross the border to Wisconsin. He's already attended a training camp for the disabled to prepare for a triathalon, and he completed his first Half Ironman triathalon while there. He plans to participate in a full Ironman run in Madison, Wis., on Sept. 7.

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