Like tens of thousands of others on Thanksgiving Day, Cpl. Gabriel Martinez took part in his local Turkey Trot.
Some run to win, some run for tradition or the festive atmosphere, some run simply to burn off calories in advance of a huge Thanksgiving dinner. For Martinez, the Broomfield, Colo. 5K run was a celebration of life and conquering adversity head-on. Just one year earlier, on Thanksgiving Day 2010, Martinez was severely wounded when a roadside bomb went off in Afghanistan.
"A year ago I didn't know if I was going to be alive," Martinez told Denver affiliate KCNC.
His mother echoed his sentiments. "I could be remembering that every day, I lost my son on this day. Instead, I have so much to be thankful for."
Though he didn't lose his life, Martinez did lose both legs in the blast. Rather than letting it slow him down, the Marine has continued athletic endeavors from biking to skiing to rock climbing. Thursday, onlookers saw him running just as he had in all other sports he's tried in the last year: on two prosthetic limbs.
"You can do anything you put your mind to, whether you're missing a finger, a leg or two legs," Martinez said. He's got a tattoo that says "Tough Times Don't Last But Tough Marines Do."
Running in the Thanksgiving 5K is only the beginning of his post-injury racing life; Martinez told KCNC he plans to continue training, with a goal of completing a triathlon someday.