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Army vet runs marathon 444 days after amputation

Kevin Bittenbender ran the marathon with his surgeon by his side.

PITTSBURGH — Retired Army Sergeant Major and Lycoming County resident Kevin Bittenbender tackled the Pittsburgh Marathon earlier this month. Just 444 days after his left leg was amputated at the knee.

"I was overcome with too much emotion. I cried, we cried because everything felt like it was worth it," Bittenbender said.

Bittenbender says the amputation came after suffering injuries from a burn pit.

"Result of that burn pit exposure, I developed neuropathy, neuropathic pains, and a loss of feeling in my feet and hands," he added. 

In 2022 he hand-cycled the marathon. But this year, he was able to run. He was accompanied by Lynn Eckrote, the surgeon who amputated his leg.

"I know no other provider that would take the time and sacrifice their own personal time from their own family to train for a marathon over the course of the year," said the veteran.

The veteran says he had others on his mind for all 26.2 miles.

"I thought about the guys I lost in Afghanistan first and foremost. I think every so often they came to mind."

Hope For The Warriors, a nonprofit dedicated to helping military members and veterans reintegrate back at home, provided the video in this story to Newswatch 16. Bittenbender suffers from PTSD and says the organization is a reason why he is alive today.

"I would fully attest that I would be a statistical number of 22 if it weren't for Hope," he stated.

Bittenbender says he plans on running in all the military branch-sponsored events this year. You can also check out Hope For The Warrior's full recap of Bittenbender's story here.

Check out WNEP’s YouTube channel.  

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