“Just seeing the families and just thanking them and congratulating them,” Marie Campbell says about planning to be at the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon. “So yeah, I’m excited.”
Campbell has spent the last 13 years helping to gather more than 400 people to compete on the TAPS team in the Marine Corps Marathon. And it started with just two people.
“It was myself and another widow,” she says. “It was enlightening.”
Campbell lost her husband Dee in 1996 in the Khobar Towers Bombing. Through TAPS -- Tragedy Assistant Program for Survivors -- Campbell made a close friend. In 2000, they ran the marathon together.
“We were both honoring our husbands who we had both lost and it was an amazing friendship, sister-ship,” Campbell says.
Through the years the team added more runners. It’s now one of the biggest groups on the course.
“I wish I could give all of them a big hug,” says Richard Nealis, adding that the camaraderie is what makes the Marine Corps Marathon special.
“When you're running, and I'm next to you and I don't know who you are but It feels like I've known you all my life,” Nealis says.
This year brings changes to the race. There will be tougher security and a new route, but always the same gracious tone.
“We should never forget the sacrifice,” he says.
Through marathon training, through growing her team, Campbell says she’s been able to recover some of what was lost.
“It was during the training that I felt the closest to him,” she says. “Just peace. I felt peace.”