Richard Bernstein has been blind since birth – but that hasn’t stopped him from running 17 marathons throughout the course of his lifetime. And on Sunday, he successfully completed his 18th marathon in New York City, a little more than a year after a devastating accident made it almost impossible for him to run the race.
Bernstein ran with guides from Achilles International, a nonprofit organization with the goal of enabling people with disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics. The 39-year-old completed the race in an unofficial time of 5 hours, 51 minutes and 22 seconds.Bernstein has had an athletic history that would be impressive for anyone – let alone for someone who is blind. But last summer, Bernstein, who was in the midst of training for the 2012 New York City marathon, was walking on a pedestrian path in Central Park, when a bicyclist suddenly hit him from behind.
As a result of the accident, Bernstein suffered severe injuries including a shattered left hip and pelvis, which left him hospitalized for 10 long weeks at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. His health problems were made even more difficult by the fact that he was blind.
Though he harbors no ill will towards the cyclist who hit him, while still hospitalized, Bernstein reached out to the city of New York to see if anyone would be willing to meet with him to discuss measures to make Central Park more handicap-accessible and less dangerous to pedestrians. But according to Bernstein, the city refused to meet with him.Bernstein vows he won’t stop fighting until Central Park is safer for all. As a result, Bernstein filed a federal lawsuit. Bernstein is an attorney at The Sam Bernstein Law Firm in Farmington Hills, Michigan, a firm owned by his father.
As the months passed, he eventually set his mind towards another goal: returning to the marathon to experience a personal breakthrough in terms of coming to peace with his accident. And he did!Despite the pain he continues to experience, he plans to be back at the starting lines of marathons for years to come.