A Massachusetts man who is training to run his first Boston Marathon refuses to let his disability keep him off the historic course.
Fifty-seven-year-old Michael Besson earned the nickname "Lightning Fingers" for his harmonious movements on the guitar, but his runs on the instrument weren't long enough for him.
"At first, I was like, 'You're going to do what?!'" Besson's oldest daughter Mikaella said of first hearing her dad's plans.
U.S. & World
It all started about a year ago during a chance encounter with Dawn Oates, who is the founder of The Play Brigade, a nonprofit promoting inclusion in play, recreation, and sports regardless of age or ability.
"I was standing outside of the Adidas run base talking to another runner," Oates recalled.
Besson, who was standing closeby, overheard a topic that piqued his interest: the Marathon.
Besson told Oates that it was his dream to run the Boston Marathon, and it was a wish Oates was able to grant.
He transformed from "Lightning Fingers" into "Lightning Legs," as he thundered away on his treadmill at home.
The Dorchester father of three says he doesn't want his children to grow up the way he did.
He moved away from his home country of Haiti when he was in his 20s. Besson, who once weighed 500 pounds, was mocked for being overweight, and no one there could see a future for a kid who was blind.
"My father told me, 'Oh, you're unuseful,'" Besson recalled. "He told me I was unuseful because I do not know anything. That's why I push myself."
On a cold day in February, Besson pushed himself through a 17-mile training run through the hills of Newton.
He was steered by a guide who will be tethered to him on race day. She points out the cars and potholes Besson can't see.
"I'm free (when I run)," Besson said. "I'm free because for a long time I could not do that."
On Marathon Monday, Besson won't be able to see the road or the cheering crowds, but you won't see a runner storming the course like Besson - free and fast as lightning.