Look through a roll of paper and you get an idea how Kyle Robiduox sees every day life with retinis pigmentosa.
Extreme tunnel vision. No peripheral vision. Not able to see at night. Unable to drive a vehicle.
Robiduox was diagnosed with the disease when he was 11 years old, but that didn’t stop him and his older brother Jayson from playing baseball and basketball, or chasing each other down the slopes on skis.
Jayson grew up and moved from the East Coast to the West Coast to finish school and start a new business in Camas, while training to become an EMT with East County Fire & Rescue.
Kyle lost his will to remain active.
“I subconsciously convinced myself that my lack of vision prevented me from doing those things,” he said. “I went for a walk on a trail one day just to clear my head. I remember feeling at peace and asking myself if I could still run again. I gave it a try and ran for two minutes without tripping or falling.
“The next time I went out, I ran for a mile to two miles,” Kyle added. “And then, it went from one hour to two hours and half marathons to full marathons. Once I got that first one under my belt, I was hooked.”
In December, Robiduox finished in third place in his division at the California International Marathon, in Sacramento. He ran a personal best time of 3 hours, 50 minutes, 18 seconds to qualify for the Boston Marathon. The opportunity to run in “the most prestigious marathon in the country” is a dream come true for Robiduox. He lives just a few miles from the finish line.
“Anybody who runs in marathons thinks the Boston Marathon is the pinnacle,” he said. “My canned response or ‘excuse’ was that it was an April race. Due to my eyesight, I didn’t think I would be able to train in the winter because it gets dark earlier.”
Robiduox’s outlook changed when he started working for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind. His coworkers said he had the times to qualify. By joining the organization’s Team With A Vision, he could have guides to lead him through the course.
“Instead of saying I can’t do this, I gotta start saying I can do this,” Robiduox said. “So I put a plan together and made it happen.”
Robiduox picked out two special guides for his Boston Marathon experience. His sister-in-law Julie Kimmel will lead him through the first half of the race. Kyle and his brother Jayson will team up for the homestretch.
“This is a chance for both of us to get back to doing something active together, like when we were kids,” Jayson said. “I hope he’s not the one just pulling me along. I hope I can add some guidance.”
Both Robiduox’s get emotional when thinking about crossing that finish line together in Boston. Nothing is guaranteed. The bombing during last year’s event proved that anything is possible.
“All the hills, all the running in the rain, all the times you are sick and tired. It’s all for crossing that finish line with a smile on your face after those 26.2 miles are behind you,” Kyle said. “This race represents the resiliency of Boston and who we are as a city. I feel privileged and humbled to play just a small role in that.”
When Jayson flies to Boston to see Kyle in April, it will be the first time they have seen each other in 10 months. They plan on going out for a run, catching a Red Sox game and playing a little one-on-one marathon.
“I don’t think we’re going to feel any pain with everyone around us cheering us on,” Jayson said. “It’s going to be an experience like I’ve never had before, and I couldn’t ask for a better person to share it with.”