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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Raw Courage

Aired April 20, 2003 - 07:53   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: How about a story of raw courage?
Kelly Cuthill (ph) of affiliate WCDB tells us about a woman who is using her disability to inspire others.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY CUTHILL, WCDB NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A warm welcome for marathoner Marla Runion, who has quite a fan club at the Perkins School for the Blind.

MARLA RUNION, RUNNER: I have a challenge for you guys. I want you to try in seven days, in one week, to put in the distance of an entire marathon.

CUTHILL: But to really inspire the next generation of visually impaired athletes, Marla ran with them. All of them.

RUNION: Can you run further? You going to try?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to try.

CUTHILL: That's exactly what Marla wanted to hear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It means a lot. It definitely shows a good example that blind people or any other person that has a handicap can achieve and run in something that's recited.

RUNION: I think some of them are my role models, quite honestly. I mean, these kids have to work twice as hard. They have to put in twice as much effort in everything they do.

CUTHILL: Clearly, so does Marla, diagnosed at age 9 with Stargart's disease, a form of macular degeneration. Legally blind, she finished fourth in the New York City Marathon, relying a lot on peripheral vision.

RUNION: I'm not able to see at far distance what's ahead of me, what's happening, the road's going to turn.

CUTHILL: That said, she does not expect special treatment at Monday's marathon. Marla and her husband coach Matt Lonergan, a Brockton native, have high hopes for a top three finish. And Marla says there's one form of support she's happy to accept.

RUNION: In a marathon, I'm going to tell that it's the crowd that gets you through. And if you're going to run a marathon, you're going to want to run Boston, because you want that crowd support.

CUTHILL: In Watertown, Kelly Cuthill (ph), News Center 5.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: Marla will among the runners in tomorrow's Boston Marathon. Her -- she has the eighth best time of any woman who's enters in the race. She figures to be the top U.S. finisher in the women's division. The gun sounds tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

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