OSSIPEE — A detective for the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office will be running the 2020 Boston Marathon in April to raise $10,000 to help researchers investigate the as-of-now incurable retinal disease from which he and many others suffer.
Brian King, 36, of Wolfeboro graduated from Kingswood Regional High School in 2000 after moving from Massachusetts in his sophomore year. He started in law enforcement in 2005 at the Wakefield Police Department and joined the Sheriff’s Office in 2011.
Joining the police appealed to King because he always respected police officers. Members of his family worked in law enforcement and as firefighters.
“I got into it because I wanted to help people, basically,” said King.
He has been a detective with the Sheriff’s Office for the past seven years. He and his wife have a 10-year-old son.
King has always had “high nearsightedness.” In 2005, he had a surgery in which, essentially, a contact lens was implanted. This allowed him to see 20/20 for a time but eventually it went down to 20/40.
About three years ago, he began to see something like the “snow” that appears on television screens. At first it was only noticeable in the sun, but now he sees this interference all the time.
He said the doctor told him his vision had gone from 20/40 to 20/60, “and it’s caused by your retina,” said King. “That’s what started me on the hunt to find out what exactly was the problem with my retina.
“So, I ended up going to Massachusetts Eye and Ear (in Boston) two years ago, and that’s how they diagnosed me with basically malfunctioning cells in my retina that affect my central vision.”
The condition affects both eyes. He compensates with dark glasses and when he drives he uses a “bioptic” to help him see distance. He said the device is basically like a little scope.
Despite his vision challenges, he was still able to qualify with his firearm a few days ago with his natural vision.
“If I can’t qualify, then my career is in jeopardy,” said King.
As a detective the bulk of his job is investigating crimes. He also does court prosecution. Typically he is in plainclothes shirt and tie, but Friday he was in uniform for a traffic detail.
Scientists have identified the gene that’s malfunctioning in his eyes but don’t have a solution to fix it yet, King said, adding there’s “cutting edge research going on.”
He learned the Boston Marathon (held next April 20) is a charity fundraiser and that Mass Eye and Ear has a team in it. He applied to be a runner and got in.
King said organizers allowed him to earmark any funds he raises for the doctor and research lab that’s working on his disease.
“I’m nervous about making the $10,000,” said King. “That’s why I’m starting now.”
He’s gotten about $1,300 from friends and family.
“If I don’t make $10,000, I run but I’m on the hook,” said King. “I gave them my credit-card number, and if I’m short the $10,000, I pay the difference.”
But,“I feel I’m contributing to the fight,” said King.
Stacy Kelly, director of special events for Massachusetts Eye and Ear, told the Sun: “We are beyond thrilled Deputy Brian King is running the marathon for Team Eye and Ear. His personal dedication to raising funds for researcher Dr. Eric Pierce and the Inherited Retinal Disorders Service at Mass. Eye and Ear is an inspiration to our entire hospital community. We are all rooting for Deputy King and grateful for his participation this year.”
King is no stranger to athletic events. He ran track and cross county in high school, played rugby at Plymouth State and played some semi-pro football in southern New Hampshire prior to becoming a lawman.
About five years ago, he began doing local triathlons (swim, bike and run). Then he built himself up to doing half-Iron man triathlons with a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a half-marathon run.
At the end of last July, he participated in a full Iron Man in Lake Placid, N.Y., that had a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and full 26 mile marathon. He started training for that in January.
“A marathon isn’t easy, per se, but I’m hoping it’s easier than the Iron Man,” said King, adding because he hurt his knee, the Iron man took him 15.5 hours. He wanted to get it done in 13 hours.
“The (Boston) marathon itself I hope to complete in, like 3.5 hours if I’m healthy and feeling good.”
People may donate to King’s fundraiser through a page Crowdshare page (tinyurl.com/king-fundraiser).
King said he is “super excited” to run in the marathon.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for me as an an athlete, but it’s also exciting for me to be able to contribute to my own cause, really, and others that are affected by this,” said King.
“My vision could stay like this five years, 10 years, forever, or it could be totally gone next month.”