WASHINGTON -- A remarkable visitor was in town for the Capital Challenge Race. He's a marathon runner who is not only blind, but also deaf.
Former Army staff Sgt. Aaron Hale spent eight years in the navy cooking for admirals. He was looking for action, so he joined the army.
"In 2011, I was deployed to Afghanistan as a EOD, explosive ordinance disposal team leader. And stepped where I shouldn't have. An IED detained it hadn't been detected, while I was working on another IED. It took my eyesight, it cracked my skull and left me with a few other injuries," said Hale.
He said the last thing he wanted to do was sit home and feel sorry for himself, so he started running and doing extreme sports.
"Almost four years later, I contracted meningitis, where the bomb had taken my eyesight, the meningitis had stolen what was left of my hearing," said Hale.
A cochlear implant now gives him some hearing in his left ear. But, in those days of darkness and silence, his then-girlfriend McKayla, was a life-line.
"I couldn't communicate except for McKayla here, writing every letter of every word she wanted to say to me in the palm of my hand. It was a difficult, lonely time," said Hale.
"You can't cry forever. You gotta pick yourself up and keep going," said Hale.
Because Hale has always loved cooking, he and his wife started a chocolate company named after his former job: E.O.D. Extra-Ordinary Delights Fudge.
"I'm just trying to live every day as best I can and it's easy to keep going when I've got an amazing family, a terrific wife and son...Every day is a blessing and I truly believe that my best day will be tomorrow," said Hale.
The Hales live in Florida, but Aaron is coming back to D.C. in October to run in the Marine Corps Marathon.
Aaron Hale's guide dog "Ila" is from the organization Fidelco, which is sponsored by ACLI, the American Council of Life Insurers. That was the sponsor of the Capital Challenge Race.