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United In Stride Opens David Han’s Eyes to New Horizons

Born blind, David Han immigrated to the U.S. from Seoul, Korea, with his parents when he was seven. He grew up in Santa Clara, learning English and braille as second languages and, with his parents’ encouragement, navigating the world boldly with a white cane and a seeing-eye dog.

Han loves sports and the outdoors. He fell in love with running at Cupertino High School, where he was on the wrestling team. He trained by running with his teammates, tethered wrist to wrist.

“But when you’re blind, you can’t simply grab your shoes and go running,” he said, resigning himself to running indoors on “the dreadmill.” Then, in 2014, a mentor connected him with the founder of United In Stride (UIS). It changed his life.


UIS is a nationwide, free online database and tool to match visually impaired (VI) walkers, joggers and runners of all levels with volunteer, sighted guides. Han plugs in his zip code and searches for guides, usually within a 20-mile radius of Santa Clara.

United In Stride opened Han’s eyes to new horizons and friendships. In April of 2023, he did something daunting even to the sighted.

Han ran the Boston Marathon. In 4 hours and 43 minutes. He and two of his guides ran together on the 30th Charity Team with a Vision, an outreach of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

“They spent the time and money to go to Boston with me,” said Han. “It was incredible to experience the Boston Marathon with my friends and their generosity.

“A lot of my friends started as my guides. If you run with somebody for hours and hours, you become friends,” continued Han.

Han said that his guides are selfless with their time, picking him up and driving to locations around the county to run.

“Growing up, I thought I had to do things on my own. Blind people can be very independent now. There are blind chefs, lawyers, etc.,” said Han, who graduated from San Jose State University with a major in psychology and a minor in biological sciences and works at Apple. “But I struggled because I didn’t want to ask for help from sighted people. I didn’t want to be a burden.

“Without UIS, I would never have known how incredibly generous people are,” continued Han. “I would never have known how many people are willing to help but just don’t know how until you ask them.”

Guides also benefit from UIS partnerships.

“Me asking for help with running is me helping my guides to give back and be of service in something they enjoy,” Han said.

Mike Hedman is in Han’s network of a dozen or so guides. They run—sometimes at the Stanford Dish in Palo Alto—walk and tandem bike together. Beyond sports, they are working on other ideas to improve life for the visually impaired, such as making braille printing less expensive.

“For me, guiding is all about joining in someone pursuing their dreams,” said Hedman. “It motivates me to know that there are folks out there who want to run a race but can’t because they don’t have the necessary support. Training and racing are something I do anyway, and it’s a lot of fun to have a partner.”

United In Stride was founded in 2015 by Californian Richard Hunter, who lost his sight at 22. In January, UIS launched an enhanced website to match the visually impaired and guides—no experience needed.

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