They say love is found when you least expect it, and that couldn’t be any truer than for Jessie Rix and Anthony Butler – two people who went for a run and eventually fell in love.
Jessie Rix has been a competitive runner since her high school years. Tired of the typical solo runs that she’s used to, she thought that it was time to make a change. She decided to sign up as a volunteer guide for Achilles International, a charitable organization that aims to empower people with disabilities by helping them participate in mainstream running events.
Satisfied with her decision, Jessie was just expecting to pick up a new hobby. Little did she know that fate had more in store for her.
Enter Anthony Butler, blind runner, a man who suffered a devastating loss when he was just 20 – he took a bullet in the face and lost his eyesight. One day, he was hanging out with a few of his friends when some men walked towards them. The two groups exchanged a few words then the violent shooting began. He took a bullet in the leg and another in the face – it was right then and there that Anthony knew that his life would never be the same again.
Anthony was a former basketball player whose trademark was his eyes. In fact, people liked to call him “bright eyes”, which made the tragedy even more heartbreaking. After the incident, Anthony became overweight at 270 pounds, depressed, and even homeless at one point. He also spent time in a shelter, and one of his social workers gave him the idea of joining Achilles.
Heeding that one suggestion changed Anthony’s life for the best. After struggling with a loss of identity and self-doubt, he finally found an outlet which eventually turned into a passion.
On a fateful Tuesday, Jessie was assigned as Anthony’s guide and the attraction was instant during their first meeting. Jessie remembers seeing Anthony for the first time, surrounded by a ton of people while talking, laughing, and having the time of his life. That’s when she knew that it was him who she wanted to run with.
Literally tethered to one another during their practice runs, Jessie and Anthony inevitably developed a close friendship and not long after began to date. Today, the powerhouse couple has been together for two years and have completed four marathons together. It is now easier for them to run with each other as Jessie recently moved into Anthony’s apartment, which is close to Central Park, their favorite running path.
Jessie’s spirit of volunteerism and Anthony despite being a blind runner has a strong desire to overcome adversity led them to where they are today – running life’s race happily together. Theirs is an inspiring tale that can serve as a reminder to us all: with enough willpower and courage, a person can turn his or her life around, no matter what the circumstances.
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