Blind Israeli Runs Marathon For Man’s Best Friend

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — When Israeli solider Gadi Yarkoni lost his sight in Lebanon 15 years ago, it only took a short time before he decided he wasn’t going to live in the dark anymore.

CBSNewYork GUIDE: The New York City Marathon

“After I got blind, ten months after it I said to my wife and my friends, I said, ‘I need a guide dog because this is my freedom,’” Yarkoni said.

WATCH: CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu reports

Yarkoni then met Timmy, a guide dog who has given Yarkoni such independence that he wants to spread the word. Now, Yarkoni is running in Sunday’s New York City Marathon to raise awareness and money for the Guide Dog Center for the Blind in Israel.

Yarkoni will be tethered to Noach Braun, who founded the center in 1991. Before that, Israelis who were visually impaired had to come to New York to find a guide dog.

“It’s the language barrier, the cultural barrier, the mentality, and then finishing getting the dog here, coming back home to Israel no one would help and support and give the follow-up,” Braun said.

Braun and his wife Orna both train the dogs in Hebrew and have trained more than 400 dogs.

“When you’re next visiting Israel, come stop by, the 2 legged and the 4 legged they are very cute, so come visit us,” Noach Braun said of his Tel Aviv center, which was also the first in Israel.

While this will be the first marathon for Braun and Yarkoni, veteran marathon runner Mike Reznik will be running alongside. Reznik has run nine marathons, but said this one will be the most exciting and inspiring.

“I think the message that these 2 are bringing is that everything is possible, everything is possible,” Reznik said.

It takes two years and $25,000 to train each guide dog, but the center is a non-profit and there is no charge to the visually impaired person.

More from Cindy Hsu
  • Richard

    Come on, you morons, this isn’t a political story, so don’t make it political! Jesus, can’t you people just see the human interest story here and leave your hatred in there in the middle east?

    • Edward

      Well said Richard – this is about the blind people! In particular its about the dogs and how hard it is to train these very intelligent dogs. Moreover how important these dogs are to the blind people!

  • sense

    “farok” and “justice” are obviously bigots. Israel does more to preserve human life than any other nation. It is a known fact that terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas use civilians as human shields. So, to put them in harms way; then to try to pin it on Israel, is a stale tactic that little men who distort facts want us all to believe.

    While on the topic, what about all the innocent Israeli civilians killed during the war? I suppose shooting hundreds of rockets into Israel, killing and injuring men, women and children is perfectly acceptable in their view.

    It’s amazing that little tiny Israel, hated and surrounded by hostile threats, have the best army in the world to DEFEND themselves, and have always manged to knock their enemies out like rag dolls when they come asking for it.

    Gadi Yarkoni fought for his country just like men of other nations do the same for their own. And for such a good thing to come out of his handicap to help a very worthy cause, is a major inspiration.

  • passerby

    everytime i hear the word lebanon and israel sabra and shatila comes to mind…

  • farok

    he must have killed many women and children before he lost his many only God knows??? He was part of the army which was invading lebanon killing innocent civilians.


    how many lebanese civilians did he kill before he “lost” his sight? he was a soldier, acting hostile in a land where he didn’t belong…

  • Bennie Gamaroff

    I love the Israelis.

  • karen

    He is so brave. I can’t imagine what I would do if I was blind. And thank you for trying to get seeing-eye dogs into Israel.

    Behatzlaha ve la bri ut

  • Mehr Kalami

    Gadi Yarkoni is the finality of inner grandeur, of his mind and heart. Not only I pray and wish him and his family happiness, but I do also the same for all dogs, irrespective of where they are; whether in the Land of Israel or elsewhere. Many of us human beings can have light even in darkness, but unfortunately those within easy reach of light prefer to live in perpetual darkness (of mind, body and spirit)!
    Happiness and Light to you Gadi,

    Mehr Kalami

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