Olympic runner Marla Runyan never let her disability slow her down. Born in 1969 in Santa Maria, California, Runyan has Stargardt’s disease, a degenerative eye condition that caused her to become legally blind. A three-time national champion in the women’s 5000 meter, Runyan competed in the 1500-meter finals at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
An avid marathon runner with a master’s degree in special education, Runyan is a professional motivational speaker, encouraging people to look past barriers and reach their full potential. She said she was inspired to succeed as a young child, after a doctor told her that her blindness would prevent her from achieving success in life.
Runyan also reaches out to children and families dealing with vision loss. “The future is not written and you have control about how you respond to the vision loss,” she has said. “Your child will show you what he or she wants to do.”