California engineering students help blind Chattahoochee Valley veteran run on treadmill

California engineering students help blind Chattahoochee Valley veteran run on treadmill

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Oftentimes, we take our independence for granted, until it is taken away from us. While one veteran is pretty independent, his disability prevents him from doing the one things he wants to do.

Larry Gunter wants to be able to run on the treadmill without holding on despite being blind and a group of engineering students from California made it happen.

“It’s not only just running, it’s having a level of fitness where you maintain a healthy lifestyle which helps you not only physically but mentally," says Gunter, an Air Force veteran.

Gunter says he has always been athletic and works out at least three times a week at the YMCA in downtown Columbus.

Engineering students at California Polytechnic University spent the year designing and building a treadmill centering device to allow the veteran a safe, independent run on the treadmill with “natural motion,” or without having to hold onto bars.

“I think the students did an outstanding job of developing the device," said Gunter. "It’s just going to be a matter of me developing trust with the device which will come with use the more I use the device the more comfortable I’ll get with the device.”

The program is called QL+ at Cal Poly, providing these students a chance to work with wounded veterans nationwide.

“It’s really something like nothing else that you don’t find at a university and its actually something that will improve the quality of life for the person at hand especially with Larry and how special he is and just giving him the ability to run autonomously on the treadmill it’s something you really can’t find anywhere else," said Craig Icban, a student.

The light-weight device fits into his backpack and notifies him when he is getting too far out of balance to the left, right and back.

These California students hope they have made a quality of life change for Gunter.

If you are a wounded veteran or are interested in learning more about the QL+ project, click here.

Copyright 2018 WTVM. All rights reserved.