Mental Health Archives - StoryCorps

Transcending Blindness, a Marathon Runner Thanks His Daughter for Her Support

Jason Romero suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that causes progressive blindness. In 2015, he was forced to stop driving and quit his job, which plunged him into a deep depression. But Jason was most concerned about how it would impact his family.

“The most important thing to me is to be a good dad to you and your brother and your sister, and I just didn’t know how I was going to be able to do it if I couldn’t see,” he said.

Jason Romero and his youngest daughter, Sofia Romero, in San Diego, California in August 2022. Courtesy Jason Romero.

Jason turned to running as a way to prove that he could push his body past what people thought possible. After becoming an ultramarathon runner, he had the seemingly crazy idea of being the first blind person to run across the United States. So he hit the road.

Jason Romero in his 2016 run across the United States. Courtesy Jason Romero.

In 2016, he set off on a 3,063 mile, 59 day run from Los Angeles to New York City. But while he was away, he thought about his family – especially his youngest daughter, Sofia.

Top Photo: Sofia Romero and Jason Romero in Denver, Colorado on January 4, 2023. By Esther Honig for StoryCorps.

Originally aired January 6, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

A Daughter on Living with, and Relating to, a Father with Mental Health Conditions

Shotzy Harrison lived with her father, James Flavy Coy Brown, until she was three years old. But James, who has been treated for multiple mental health conditions over the years, was in and out of Shotzy’s life as a result, and spent most of his adult life homeless.

After they reunited in 2013, Shotzy brought James home to live with her in Winston Salem, North Carolina. That’s when they sat down for a StoryCorps interview where they talked about their relationship and the time they’d lost.

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Five years later, Shotzy recorded again, by herself, to reflect on that StoryCorps conversation with her dad. You’ll hear excerpts from both of those interviews in this story.

To hear more, listen to the episode of our podcast where Shotzy and James are featured.

Top photo: Shotzy Harrison in 2013 with her father, James Flavy Coy Brown, at their StoryCorps recording in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Bottom photo: Shotzy Harrison in 2018 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Originally aired March 15, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition.