Blind Man Claims YMCA Denied Him Access To Indoor Running Track - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

Blind Man Claims YMCA Denied Him Access To Indoor Running Track

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LICKING COUNTY, Ohio -

Bob Jutzi doesn't let his visual impairment stop him from enjoying his daily run. Unable to run outside, he found the indoor running track at the Licking County YMCA in December of 2001.

"A sign was posted on the door alerting people to a blind runner. I wore a bright colored vest. I ran in the opposite direction to supposedly make seeing me easier," said Jutzi in an email to NBC4.

Bob began running in 1976, while attending a school for blind children in Minnesota.

"At the time, the only way for us to run was the track. It was six lanes, with guide wires dividing each lane. At each end of the guide wire was a piece of tape. We would run until we hit the tape at one end, spun around, went back," said Bob.

But last week, Jutzi claims YMCA staff told him he could no longer use the track and would have to run using a treadmill.

"I ran into somebody, who was in my lane. When I ran into him I could tell he was facing me. He went sprawling and  I continued running. And after I got done with my shower, I was called to the director's office and I was told he'd like to see me on the treadmill," Bob explained unhappily.

Bob tells NBC4 the YMCA is discriminating against him. But Licking Co. YMCA CEO Edward Bohren denies the claim. He's known Bob for 12 years.

"It came to the point where it wasn't safe for Bob, as well as our members, on the track. So we setup a system where he can come and use the treadmill, as well as, any other machines," explained Bohren.

For years, a sign on the front door of the Licking Co. YMCA alerted customers that a blind person was using the track. Bob even wore a safety vest to warn others.

Now, he must use treadmills, which come with iPod inputs and other features for persons living with a disability. Bohren said a trainer can help Bob program the treadmill for the 11 miles he likes to run.

"We are always looking for ways and solutions to help any of our people with disabilities. So, that's what we've done. At this point, we are still in the learning stage and I would hope he would be willing to work with that," said Bohren.

Bob is reluctant and said he'd rather be injured than not be able to run.

"Just not the same, I could see if I started out on the treadmill," said Bob.

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