Get some tissues ready before you read this next post, because it is a tearjerker. Be prepared to smile too, however, because it is damn uplifting as well.
On Monday, a 30-year-old Massachusetts woman and New Jersey native named Kaitlyn Kiely completed the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon course one week before the official race will be held. She did so while pushing her longtime boyfriend, Matt Wetherbee, who is a quadriplegic.
Wetherbee suffered a spinal cord injury while playing pickup basketball in June 2016, rendering him paralyzed. Kiely ran the Boston Marathon herself last year but the couple decided to take on the challenge together this year.
"I wanted to keep him motivated so I said he would run it with me to put that goal in his head and let him know I believe he can do whatever he sets his mind to," Kiely told The Spun.
Kiely and Wetherbee missed the deadline to run in this year's race as an “Athletes With Disabilities” pair, but teamed up with local company HOTSHOT to raise $25,000 and run the course together.
Receiving a police escort and cheered on by a bevy of family and friends, Kiely and Wetherbee completed the marathon on a bright April day.
"It started out as a sunny, cold day, but the weather ended up being pretty perfect," Kiely said. "It was strenuous, especially up the hills. I had to walk up the hills. But even with all the extra weight it still felt so awesome, especially to cross the finish line. It’s a feeling like none other. There was such a buildup leading up to this day that I can’t believe it’s over already. It’s weird to not have to leave work and go run. All the training in the snow and crappy weather was so worth it though."
All the training in the world couldn't have prepared either party for the emotional moment when they crossed the finish line.
"The first thing I did was move to the front of the chair to look at his face," Kiely said. "I was choking back tears because I wanted to stay strong for him. But as soon as I saw he was bawling, I just lost it. We both cried and I held onto him. We both just said I love you so much, we did it.
"It’s one thing to cross he finish line like I did last year, but to cross this year with him by my side and all of my family and friends there...was by far the coolest thing I’ve ever been a part of."
Check out the video below, courtesy of Kiely and Wetherbee's friend Deirdre Burns.
If you read this post and aren't inspired, check your pulse. This is as poignant a story of true love, devotion and the power of the human spirit that you're going to find.
For spinal cord research and bettering the lives of those affected by spinal cord injuries, donations can be made at www.journey-forward.org/donate. You can also donate directly to Wetherbee’s rehab at www.fundraise.com/Matt-Wetherbee.