Tears in his eyes, St. Pete firefighter and paramedic Jim Cunningham recalled the events in Boston a year ago, when two bombs exploded within 12 seconds, killing three wounding about 264 others.
"It chokes me up just thinking about it," Cunningham said.
Cunningham and his 13-year-old daughter, Ann, traveled to Boston to support his wife, Mary, who qualified for the 2013 race at the last moment.
The race’s devastating ending would change their lives.
"It was a pretty horrific day. It was a war zone down," Cunningham said.
Father and daughter were five yards away when the second of two bombs went off near the finish line.
"When the smoke cleared is when we saw everything that happened. At that point I handed my daughter my cellphone and I said I have to go, I have to go help somebody," Cunningham said.
His training kicked in and he jumped into action, helping as many as he could. Ann watched alone.
"She was standing on the corner taking in the whole scene. So she saw much more horrific things than I did," Cunningham said.
It took them more than two hours to find Mary. They finally spotted her at the 25 mile mark.
"She was emotional and exhausted obviously," Cunningham said.
Cunningham said all three suffered post-traumatic stress and have been in counseling. But it's been harder on Ann. Mary quit working for most of this past year to take care of their daughter.
"Things definitely changed that day in a split second that changed my life forever," said Cunningham.
But the Cunninghams decided to go back this year. While they are scared, they decided it's therapy they all need.
"My daughter needs this chance to go back and put this behind her," said Cunningham. "My wife has unfinished business. She was a runner her whole life and that was always her dream."