Blind man on a mission to help tsunami victims - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Blind man on a mission to help tsunami victims

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Next month marks the two year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan where 16,000 people lost their lives.

A San Diego man is now on a mission to raise thousands of dollars for students there despite his own physical challenge.

Hiro Iwamoto does not have the ability to see anything.

Still, he plans to not only run more than 13 miles but also sail across the Pacific in hopes of bringing attention and money to his cause.

Like any good sailor, Hiro knows his way around a boat. But, unlike most who sail the open waters, Hiro can't see.

Instead, Hiro was born with partial sight.

Slowly, his condition deteriorated, leaving him blind and severely depressed by the time he was in middle school.

"I wanted to jump from a cliff when I lost my sight," he says.

Hiro's life is much different than it was back then. He has since dedicated himself to positive thinking and adventure.

The son of a fisherman, 12 years ago Hiro took up sailing. Then, he found a passion for running.

And soon, he will combine those two strengths, in order to help students in Fukishima, Japan. The area was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami back in March of 2011.

"I wanna give them a chance or opportunity to feel the ocean is great again," he says.

His plan is to raise $20,000 to buy a small boat for one of the local high schools there.

Reaching that goal, starts March 10th, when Hiro will run the San Diego half marathon alongside a well-known guide, former Padres pitcher, Aki Otsuka.

"He's fast -- pretty fast, yeah," says Otsuka.

Aki and Hiro have been training for about three weeks. During the race they will be connected at the wrist by a rope like device.

After the half marathon, Hiro will fly to Japan and donate the money he raises.

But his trip won't end there.

He plans to travel back to San Diego via the Pacific Ocean aboard a sail boat, which is why he has been practicing his skills more so now then ever before.

"My blindness didn't limit me. I kept saying, I wanna do this," he says.

Hiro will be on that boat with a Japanese sailor to help guide him. The journey will take about two months.

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