Story by PO2 Stephane Belcher on 04/12/2018Michael Davis, a contract specialist at Navy Medicine East, who is legally blind, will run in the Boston Marathon for the fourth time this year with his guide, and will mark the first time ever a legally blind runner will push an autistic rider in the marathon with a guide.
"I have always been very passionate about helping people with disabilities," Davis said. "Whether it's helping transition youth in the blind community in Virginia to go from high school to college and eventually obtaining meaningful employment, or pushing people with disabilities in marathons to make sure they are included."
It took Davis four long years to get approval to push an autistic person in the Boston Marathon, as no one had ever done it before.
"It was a relief and a lot of excitement," Davis said. "That was really cool to hear it was approved, because it took so long. They had to make sure we were following all the rules. It also took me a year or two to train and to qualify, so it was a process."
A man of many hats, Davis works at NME, where he negotiates contracts to provide supplies and services to NME's military treatment facilities, but he also worked with the State Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired and served as Chair of the Governor's Council State Rehabilitation Council of the Blind from 2012 to 2014.
He's been an active member and treasurer of the local chapter of the National Federation of the Blind since 2007. Davis also runs in other marathons, such as the Marine Corps Marathon and Shamrock Marathon, and pushes people with disabilities in these marathons as well.
"I have been involved with disability advocacy apart from work since 2007 and it is something that I will continue to do whether it's full time or outside of work," Davis said. "I have been running marathons, and pushing people with disabilities since 2009."
Navy Medicine East oversees the delivery of medical, dental and other health care services to approximately one million patients across almost 100 facilities in the eastern hemisphere including the Tidewater Military Health System which brings together McDonald Army Health Center, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth and U.S. Air Force Hospital Langley. Plus, its public health activities extend globally. For more information, visit www.med.navy.mil/sites/nme.