Being legally blind couldn't stop a man from running 3,000 miles across the U.S.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
It's Friday, which is when we hear from StoryCorps. And for our first StoryCorps of this year, we hear from a man who was forced to chart a new path in life. Jason Romero suffers from a rare eye condition, which is slowly causing him to go blind. Six years ago, he reached the point where he could no longer drive or work. And he came to StoryCorps with his daughter Sofia.
JASON ROMERO: I wasn't getting out of bed, and I wasn't caring for you. I felt really guilty. The most important thing to me is to be a good dad to you and your brother and your sister. And I just didn't know I was going to be able to do it if I couldn't see. But I started running because I know it was the only way for me to stay in right mind. And running was really hard. I was so out of shape. But subconsciously, I think it was in revolt of my eyes.
SOFIA ROMERO: Do you remember when you first told me you were going to run across America?
J ROMERO: Yes, I do. It was 3,063 miles, and I ran 51 1/2 miles a day for 59 1/2 days. There's a lot of time for self-reflection. And my mind started to spiral, and I started to have, like, some really bad thoughts of, you know, I don't want to be out here. And sometimes I would feel forgotten. But you called me every single day like you promised you would.
S ROMERO: Yes.
J ROMERO: Yeah. And that was really important to me, Sofia. Why did you choose to call me every single day?
S ROMERO: 'Cause I missed you. Just like - I was like, I want to talk to my dad. And that the way I could.
J ROMERO: You know, since you were little kid, you're always my best guide. It's not even like you're guiding me. It's like we're helping each other.
S ROMERO: Yeah.
J ROMERO: When you take my arm, it's so gentle. I feel so safe, so secure.
S ROMERO: Well, was it hard to be away from us for so long?
J ROMERO: Hard is not a strong enough word to describe it. It was like my heart had been ripped out. And I just didn't want to leave you guys.
S ROMERO: Yeah.
J ROMERO: But you guys have given me the grace to be able to do what I have needed to keep myself healthy and sane and happy. You are a beautiful person, and you are your absolute true self. That inspires me on a daily basis. And I just - I love you for it.
S ROMERO: (Crying) Thank you.
J ROMERO: You're welcome, sweetheart.
(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "HOME HOME AT LAST")
INSKEEP: Jason Romero and his youngest daughter, Sofia, in Denver. Their conversation is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "HOME HOME AT LAST") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.