Anthony Burke and Jessie Nix

Anthony Butler & Jessie Nix“I blinked once and it was good and I blinked again and I couldn’t see any more”

As heard on The Ryan Tubridy Show

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Picture this – two people, crazy in love running a marathon through the streets of Paris. He’s an ex-drug dealer from The Bronx and she’s a Mid-western girl turned New Yorker. They’re running side by side, holding either end of a tape, because only one of them can see the road ahead.

Maggie Doyle was chatting to loved-up runners Anthony Butler and Jessie Nix about how they first “ran into each other” and fell in love. Back in 2008, Anthony was a small-time drug dealer. Someone pulled a gun on him during a street corner argument and Anthony was shot twice in the legs and once in the head. That last shot changed everything.

 “I remember just looking aroundI blinked once and it was good and I blinked again and I couldn’t see any more – it was over.”

His sight was completely gone. It was three months before his 21st birthday.

Anthony had to learn to walk all over again. It rained like hell that first day and he just wanted to stay inside. His walking teacher was having none of it:

“I’m like ‘but it’s raining, we can’t go outside’. And she’s like ‘well that’s life, it’s not going to stop raining for you’.”

Anthony took a whole hour to walk one city block, crying at every step. But things started looking up when he joined Achilles International. It’s a non-profit that uses a buddy system to help people of all abilities compete in main-stream sports. Anthony was scared to take on something new, but he went for it anyway.

Cue Jessie from rural Minnesota, living the New York dream. She was finding it hard to make friends in the city and decided to volunteer at Achilles International Central Park chapter. Anthony and Jessie were matched up as running partners on the first day. He was established at the club when she got there. Jesse says running with Anthony helped her feel less alone.

“To have someone, right out the gate, to be that warm and welcoming, to want to hang out and run and get to know me better, it was refreshing, especially in a city like New York. Because New York is tough.”

Jesse and Anthony trained twice a week together, talking as they ran.  A deep friendship developed and Anthony wanted to move things into the dating zone. He got the bright idea of asking for Jesse’s number so they could train more for a big race. His plan worked and they’ve been together ever since.

Jesse and Anthony are excited to be in Dublin for the first time to run in the Rock and Roll half marathon.  Anthony says this time he’s just going to focus on having a good time not making good race time. And with live bands positioned all along the race route, Jesse’s pretty sure Anthony plans on taking plenty of dance breaks before they hit that finish line.

You can listen to Anthony and Jesse’s conversation with Maggie Doyle in full on The Ryan Tubridy Show here.

© The Listener 2019

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