Marine Staff Sgt. James Carey needed a little help to get over the finish line at the Phoenix Marathon on Saturday—but just taking part in his fourth marathon marked an incredible achievement for a man who was pronounced dead from drowning in 2009. Carey was revived after the special forces training accident in a pool at Camp Pendleton, 12 News reports, and although doctors thought he would be left in a vegetative state, he recovered brain function after emerging from a coma, and his stepmom says he's "doing great and he's proving everybody wrong." Carey, who is now legally blind, was pushed in his wheelchair along the marathon route until the final few feet, where his team lifted him up and helped him walk across the finish line.
"It was just a great feeling knowing that you could help somebody out, [a] fellow military member," a "Carey's Corps" team member and fellow Marine tells AZFamily.com. Adds Carey himself, "A lot of people supporting me ... makes me feel very happy." Carey's immediate superior when the accident occurred tells Runner's World that the training runs began as a way to spend time with Carey after the accident and let him know he hadn't been forgotten. "James does a lot for me and all the other Marines who've been involved with his running," he says. "To see where he started from, on the brink of being dead, to now, after all the work he's done, that does a lot more for us than I think we do for him." (An Austin Marathon runner summoned the will to crawl to the finish after her legs gave out.)