Path to friendship: Two Charlotte men brought together by non-profit group for athletes with disabilities


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Some friendships are formed out of convenience or circumstance and others are built over time.

“It’s a moment in time when we’re together, when we’re together it’s a moment in time, we don’t have to worry about a lot of the stresses in the world,” said Chad Roberts.

Every Thursday, Chad calls his friend Victor and the two head out on their weekly run.

“Once a week. It’s something I don’t like to miss,” said Chad.

It’s an appointment they’ve kept for three years.

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“I don’t know how many races we’ve run or how many miles we’ve put in together. I should do that math on that someday,” laughed Chad.

The math isn’t important. It’s the 45 minutes they spend looping around Victor’s neighborhood that really count because it’s the only time during the week Victor can truly run.

“When things are so subtle, it’s hard to pay attention, especially if it’s sight, like you can see something, it’s clear but then after a while it starts getting blurry,” said Victor.

Around 20 years ago, things started to get blurry for Victor. Then, he couldn’t see anything at all.

“I count (Chad) as a friend, especially in my condition. I know it’s not easy for people to talk to me and so forth, on an ongoing basis. Very consistently like Chad,” said Victor.

But ask Chad and he’d tell you there’s nothing challenging about being Victor’s friend.

“I just never had that problem with him, where I’m tiptoeing around him being blind. I make fun of him all the time, like I’m going to run in into a telephone pole. He can’t hear either so I got to speak up,” said Chad.

Victor doesn’t need to able to see or hear all that well to compete.

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“I introduced Victor to Chad and I just thought they’d be a really good match,” said Shannon Houlihan.

Shannon is part of a Charlotte-area non-profit, called Paraguide. She works to set up athletes with disabilities with other athletes, so they can compete and train together.

Three years ago, she made the introduction that turned into a lifelong friendship between Victor and Chad.

“They’re as close as brothers, they don’t fight, they wouldn’t hesitate to give each other a hard time,” said Shannon.

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The two have run in 5Ks and completed triathlons.

But the most important accomplishment is their friendship.

“He’s definitely in my circle of friends, you might say, no doubt about it,” said Victor.

The truth about friendship is it’s not based on what you see, it’s built on how you feel.

“Oh yeah, he’s one of my best friends. No doubt. One of the best people I talk to regularly,” said Chad.

And time has a way of showing what’s important and who’s worth spending it with.

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