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Visually impaired runner completes marathon with the help of guides, friends

ABC

(ST. PAUL, Minn.) -- Laura Sosalla, of St. Paul, Minnesota, was declared legally blind earlier this year due to long-term effects after a battle with COVID-19 last November.

Sosalla was determined and said she wanted to prove to herself that she wouldn't let the impairment change how she lived her life.

She decided to run a marathon. This spring, Sosalla sent a message to Rachel Bentley, founder of United in Stride, an organization that matches visually impaired runners with guides.

Sosalla and Bentley teamed up, along with Bentley's sister, Natalie Elmore, and Sosalla's neighbor, Laura Brennan.

After months of training side-by-side, the four women ran the last mile of the Twin Cities Marathon together on Oct. 3.

Elmore said many noticed her guide bib and the group was showered in positivity from onlookers.

"I felt like it was really just my job to communicate to her all the excitement of the day," Elmore said, "describing that to her and giving her encouragement in that way."
The group crossed the finish line at 5 hours, 38 minutes. Brennan said she was proud to be in such good company, adding: "It was an honor to cross the finish line with her and be able to witness the look of joy on her face as she realized her accomplishment."

Bentley said she's already looking ahead.

"It was a blast running with these women, and I can't wait to do another race soon," she added.

Sosalla told "World News Tonight" on Friday about the support received while overcoming her hardship.

"What COVID has taught me is even though it took my eyes, it gave me an opportunity to connect with people and share life in a completely different way," she said. "I'm so incredibly grateful for that."

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