UHart cheers on blind runner Chaz Davis as he competes in Rio Paralympics

WEST HARTFORDUniversity of Hartford students, faculty, and staff gathered to watch alumnus Chaz Davis ’16, of Grafton, Mass., compete in the 5,000-meter run Thursday morning.

Davis lost his vision three years ago to a rare disease while he was a student and a cross-country runner at the University. With help from his friends and former teammates, Chaz continued to run and is now realizing his goal of competing in the Paralympics in Rio de Janiero.

About midway through his first year at the University, Davis was stricken with Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, a rare, incurable genetic disease that causes vision loss. At first, the disease only caused deteriorating vision in his right eye, but by the end of the school year, he lost the vision in his left eye.