JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The annual Donna Marathon Weekend brings in hundreds of athletes from all over the country.
Among them is one inspiring amputee from Greenville, South Carolina.
Joe Cole took a big step Saturday taking part in his first 5K race. The Vietnam War veteran had his leg amputated four years ago after he was exposed to Agent Orange. The 76-year-old trained for months in preparation.
“Just because I lost my leg doesn’t mean I lost my will,” Cole said.
The Donna Marathon weekend has been a family affair since its start 11 years ago, especially because his niece is Donna Deegan, the founder of the DONNA Foundation.
“This is kind of like a family reunion,” he said. “This is something we all participate in just to support the cause.”
Though it took him two hours, Cole didn’t give up. His family was by his side every step of the way.
“It’s so inspiring to me because to do a 5K with an amputated leg, it’s just tough,” Donna Deegan said. “I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
Cole said he’s just happy to finish and hopes his story will help motivate others.
“Get off the couch and get out and do something because once you give up, then it’s hard to get back into it,” he said.
Now that he accomplished the 5K, Cole said he plans to do the 10K next year on a bike.
To learn more about the Donna Marathon, click here.