By Mary O’KEEFE
Last Saturday’s California Council of the Blind Mutt Strut was a success, according to organizers.
“It was a great day,” said Donna Pomerantz, Mutt Strut organizer.
The event took months of planning, from creating the 2K/5K track to organizing an army of volunteers. A portion of the proceeds from the Mutt Strut will be used by City of Hope, one of the foremost medical research institutions in the nation, to conduct cancer prevention and diabetes research. The funds will also be used to support Braille literacy, college and vocational scholarships, technology loans, The Blind Californian quarterly magazine, training conferences and conventions, Employment Assistance programs, crisis intervention, family education, awareness and peer support, and community outreach through public education.
“We had [about] 78 registrants,” Pomerantz said.
The event took place at Crescenta Valley Park, which Pomerantz said was the perfect venue to give runners a chance to be in nature. The runners were sighted, visually impaired and blind. They ran with and without guide dogs. They were provided guidance if needed by volunteers including those from Prom Plus Club and Leo’s Club from the Lions Club.
Sgt. Major Jesse Acosta joined the run and spoke to the audience at the beginning and end of the event. Acosta was assigned to HQ Battery 2/55th Air Defense Artillery out of Fort Bliss, Texas. After completing his second contract with the service he took a year and a half off, but then decided to enlist in the Army Reserves. He was assigned to D Co. 14th Combat Engineers in El Monte. He served a long, distinguished career and in 2005 was deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was wounded in a mortar attack in 2006. His injuries included the loss of his eyes and traumatic brain injury. He recovered and devotes his life to bringing attention to wounded warriors and to the visually impaired.
He told the audience he would be running alongside with them.
“I am proud to be blind,” he said.