Injured Marine crosses finish line at Phoenix Marathon

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

MESA, Ariz. -- There were cloudy skies and windy conditions, but the rain held off as some 10,000 runners representing all 50 states and 19 countries took part in the BMO Harris Bank Phoenix Marathon on Saturday.

Among the athletes was injured Marine Staff Sgt. James Carey, who got through the race in a wheelchair with the help of friends and volunteers.

Carey was left blind and severely hurt after he nearly died in a training exercise five years ago, but nothing is holding him back. This was his fourth marathon.

Volunteers even helped him walk across the finish line, and his family couldn't be any more proud.

"Everyone was in tears," said Yvette Sierra, Carey's stepmom. "I'm a big ball of tears all the time anyway. And it's overwhelming just watching him doing it and all the people that are engaged. I got so many hugs out there. It's amazing, absolutely amazing."

"It was just a great feeling knowing that you could help somebody out, fellow military member," said Marine Staff Sgt. Romero Castillo. "Didn't matter if he was Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Army personnel."

The 26.2-mile race was actually a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. Last year, 14 percent of participants qualified.

Some elite runners were also trying to qualify for the Olympic trials.

But for Carey and his supporters, the race signified determination and hope as they all seized the moment.

"It means more to me than it probably did to him, whether he knows it or not," Castillo said.