BRENTWOOD (KDKA) – The goal of a race is to finish first — at least that is the way we’ve been taught.

Today, Rick Dayton was in Brentwood for the Firecracker 5K, where he learned a lot from a woman who finished last.

“Family tradition, Fourth of July. Nothing better. The whole community is here. There is nothing better,” Justin Joyce said.

The Firecracker 5K has been held on this day, every year since 1983.

“This is a hometown tradition, and it’s a way to honor our service men and service women and the Declaration of Independence and all the things that Independence Day and the Fourth of July really stand for,” Race Director Kira Foley said.

“I loved that everyone had their chairs out on the side cheering you on. It was a good atmosphere,” Coral Vedder said.

A total of 2,209 people ran the race this year. It’s the 30th year of the running, and whether you clocked a time of 16 minutes or 48 minutes, they say it’s all about celebrating Brentwood and celebrating America.

“Lot of people cheering me on — cheering America on — saying USA and America, so it was really cool,” Dan Porter said.

Dan carried a big American flag as he ran. Some Army Reservists from Baldwin ran in boots and fatigues — lugging 40 pound packs on their backs as the crowd yelled encouragement.

“God bless America. Thanks for serving. Keep going guys. Don’t quit. Tons and tons of support. It just felt really good. The last push — they just made me want to keep going,” Matthew Sunseri said.

“Everybody clapping and saying thank you — and it’s the same thing. I’m giving the respect back and saying thank you because that means a lot for their support, they support us for doing what we do,” Daniel Joyce said.

But, that’s nothing compared to the applause reserved for Alexis Watterson. Two hours and ten minutes after the race started, Alexis walked with a purpose toward the finish line. The timing devices were long gone, but for a woman who suffered a stroke 18 months ago and spent a month in a coma — her finish time didn’t matter.

Rick Dayton: You realize what an inspiration you are for these people?

Alexis: Well, well, people, look — heart, heart.

These days, words don’t come easily for Aleixs, but her determined stride did the talking for her.

“We would have been done 40 minutes earlier, but you just had to hug a lot of people,” her husband, Dave Watterson, said.

Thank you Alexis for showing all of us that the winner doesn’t have to finish first.


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