Panek is no stranger to firsts. As president and CEO of New York-based nonprofit Guiding Eyes for the Blind, in 2015, he launched the "Running Guides" program that trains guide dogs for blind runners.
"I've been a runner for my whole life, except I stopped for a time too afraid to run without assistance. I picked up running again using human guides," Panek said in an interview with Time. "People volunteered to connect with me with a tether to show the way to go but I would have to leave my guide dog at home—and yet, dogs love to run and I love to run so I really wanted to see with my training from Guiding Eyes for the Blind if it was possible to train a guide dog to run."