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Volleyball News

Awarenss Walk opens Bruno's eyes, demonstrates challenges faced with blindness

Oct. 5, 2009

PITTSBURGH - Point Park University volleyball coach Mike Bruno took an interesting approach Sunday to help himself see clearly the challenges that visually impaired people face - he wore a blindfold.

Bruno, who is in his fifth year as Pioneers' head coach, completed an Awareness Walk Sunday to help raise interest and awareness for problems related to low vision and blindness.

Awareness Walk

With the help of Point Park men's and women's soccer coach Jeroen Walstra as a guide, Bruno wore a blindfold while completing a 22-mile journey along the Montour Trail. The trek began at mile marker 0 at the Coraopolis access point and continued south.

The Point Park coaching duo finished the trip in a little over five hours after alternating running and walking for a mile at a time. Although the journey was planned for 25 miles, leg cramps at mile marker 22 forced Bruno to call it a day. Regardless, the trip helped to open the eyes of Bruno, whose three-year old daughter, Cassie, is legally blind.


"This was absolutely great," said Bruno. "Doing this helped to heighten my awareness to what visually impaired people go through on a daily basis. This was one of the best things I could do to understand how difficult it is to deal with low vision and blindness, and it will help me become an even better parent to my daughter, Cassie.

"I am so glad that I was able to do this," added Bruno, "Hopefully it will help people realize the struggle that Cassie and children like her face every day. For me personally, I have a new appreciation for the challenges they have."

As one might imagine, Bruno's undertaking was on odd task, one that required him to suspend his reliability on his vision.

"To be honest, it was scary to put that blindfold on, and I didn't know what to expect," said Bruno. "By putting the blindfold on, you have to rely so much on your other senses. It was a difficult task both physically and mentally to stay on track and to travel so far. Fortunately I had a great guide in Jeroen Walstra."

Bruno completed the Awareness Walk to build interest and awareness for this year's for Volley for Vision event, which will be held Oct. 31 as part of an American Mideast Conference match versus Houghton. The match will start at 1 p.m. at Greentree SportsPlex.

The goal of Volley for Vision is to raise money for the Association for Retinopathy of Prematurity and other Related Diseases (ROPARD).  This is the second consecutive year that the Pioneers will host Volley for Vision, and last year they raised more than $3,600 for ROPARD.

Volley for Vision is inspired by Cassie Bruno. As a result of Cassie's premature birth in November of 2006, she suffered retinopathy of prematurity and is legally blind. To hear Cassie's story and to learn more about the event, watch the video that is posted on the Volley for Vision Web site, www.volleyforvision.org.

Volley for Vision was created by the Point Park volleyball program, and after last year's inaugural event hosted by the Pioneers, other collegiate teams around the country have taken the initiative to host their own Volley for Vision events.

ROPARD has as its goal to fund the clinically relevant research to understand, treat and prevent retinopathy of prematurity and related retinal diseases. It is supported solely by private contributions administered by its Board of Trustees.

As part of the Volley for Vision, the Point Park volleyball players and staff will be soliciting donations to support ROPARD. One-hundred percent of all money raised will go directly to ROPARD.

Donations for Volley for Vision can be made in a flat rate or on a per-dig basis. If the donations are made on a per-dig basis, the total donation will equal the amount pledged per dig multiplied by the number of digs that Point Park records in the Oct. 31 match versus Houghton. Digs are a defensive statistic in volleyball.

In last year's Volley for Vision, Point Park recorded 63 digs in a 3-1 victory over Notre Dame (Ohio).

To find out more information about Volley for Vision, or to become involved in some way, contact Mike Bruno at (412) 392-3926 or mbruno@pointpark.edu.