Nearly blind St. Charles runner changes route due to neighbor concerns

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by Emily Rau / News 4 and Brendan Marks / KMOV.com

KMOV.com

Posted on October 8, 2012 at 4:41 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 8 at 5:00 PM

ST. CHARLES, Mo.—A nearly blind suburban St. Louis marathon runner has agreed to tweak his route because neighbors feared colliding with him.

 

Dennis Atkins, 57, can only see shadows of objects and differentiate between light and dark.

He used to run down the middle of streets in a St. Charles subdivision, guiding himself by focusing on black-line expansion joints.

For Atkins, it’s always been about proving people wrong.

“Coming out here in the fresh air, doing something most people think I shouldn’t be able to do is exciting for me,” said Atkins.

But recently, a few of his neighbors said the running had to stop, citing safety concerns.

“For the last three years, when I would run, they contacted the police,” Atkins said.

Determined to live the life he chooses, Atkins worked with police, city officials and his neighbors to come up with a compromise.

Now he’s agreed to instead stay close to street sides where parking already was prohibited. He’ll focus on where the grass meets the curb.

Atkins also promised to wear bright-colored clothing and to stick to less traveled streets.

Meanwhile, the city will post a sign or signs alerting drivers to watch out for a visually impaired person. There’s also talk of reducing the speed limit.

”I want everyone to realize, no matter how bad today is, you can get through it and that’s really the reason I come out and run every day so I can serve as an example to others,” Atkins said.

Atkins says the compromise was a team effort and also thanks his neighbors for working with him.

 

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