AUSTIN (KXAN) — At just 17 years old, Qusay Hussein survived a suicide bombing attack in his home country of Iraq. The explosion caused him to lose his sight, then he faced years of depression. Today, he’s making strides toward a better life.

“I feel free, I feel like freedom,” Hussein said. “I earn back who I am when I am running.”

The 33-year-old decided he would run the Austin Half Marathon, but he knew he would need some help. That’s where Brooke Berard came in. At first, the longtime runner was hesitant.

“It was really intimidating, starting off, guiding someone,” Berard said. “It was the first time guiding a visually impaired runner. It would have been a lot easier to just say no, I am not good enough, I’m not fast enough.”

But, ultimately, she decided to give it a shot. The duo has been training together for the last seven months. Now, they’re ready to take on the challenge. It’s Hussein’s first-ever half marathon, and he hopes it will inspire others.

“I really thank the team because they are open-minded and they believed in me,” he said. “That’s what got me to the Austin Marathon.”