E.J. Scott runs blindfolded in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon in August, with his cousin, Ryan Carney, as his guide.Among the tens of thousands of runners in the Chicago Marathon this Sunday, see if you can spot local improv comedian E.J. Scott, who will be wearing number 15115—and a blindfold.
A regular performer at iO and The Annoyance Theatre with his team, The Diplomat Motel, Scott suffers from choroideremia (CHM), a genetic eye disorder that causes progressive vision loss. Doctors told the 34-year-old that prolonged exposure to sunlight in the 26.2-mile race would cause further damage to his sight, so Scott will be running with his eyes covered and a guide by his side.
“I think this will be my first and last marathon,” he says, laughing.
Scott, whose sight troubles began as a teen—knocking into things and experiencing blinding flashes—was diagnosed with CHM in March 2003. The New York native’s worsening sight prompted his 2008 move to Chicago from L.A., where he was pursuing acting. (Scott’s girlfriend, True Blood actress Deborah Ann Woll, still lives there). Today, his diminished vision—“like looking through two paper towel rolls”—keeps him using a cane and wearing glasses.
The genetic disorder—his younger brother, Kevin, and their nephew, Liam, also suffer from CHM—occurs mostly in males and affects an estimated one in 50,000 people.
“It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just me dealing with this,” he says, adding that his grandfather went blind in his 40s. “It really shook the foundation of my family.”
To date, Scott says, his fundraising for choroideremia awareness exceeds $100,000. On Monday, The Annoyance Theatre in Andersonville will host Comedy for a Cure, a benefit show for choroideremia featuring a litany of improv luminaries, including T.J. Jagodowski and Susan Messing. All proceeds from the event will go to the Choroideremia Research Foundation.
GO: Oct 11. $10. The Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, 773.561.4665 annoyanceproductions.com
- Check out the list of improv stars performing at Comedy for a Cure.
- Read Losing Weight for Charity and Myself!, Scott’s blog chronicling his 70-pound weight loss to raise funds for CHM.
Photograph: Courtesy of E.J. Scott