No man left behind: Runners help paralyzed veteran across finish line at 5K in Oldsmar

Posted at 4:06 PM, May 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-31 02:24:37-04

A paralyzed Air Force veteran, who was dedicated a three mile race by pushing his wheelchair for those who died in service on Memorial Day, found himself needing help to cross the finish line.

Andy Bernt, lost a wheel on his wheel chair 1.5 miles into the race.

But, two of his VIP Warrior teammates helped move him across the finish line

Right outside the gates of MacDill Air Force Base, Andy Bernt, can only get as close as Gadsden Park to watch the aircrafts buzz by.

Twelve years ago, Bernt was forced to retire after he woke up one day and was paralyzed from the chest down.

"I went to bed, six hours later, I was paralyzed," he said.

Bernt has spent the last twelve years in a wheelchair after he was diagnosed with Stage Four Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

He served 26 years as a firefighter and EMT in the United States Air Force.

This past weekend, he raced his heart out for the 5K VIP Warriors Memorial Race in Oldsmar by pushing himself in his wheelchair.

The race was held by the same management that brought the World Famous Oldsmar Tap House 5K.

VIP Warriors is a local non-profit organization that provides equipment for military veterans who need assistance.

For Bernt, he's mastered the skill set it takes to race with his upper body -- he's completed a 10 mile race in his wheelchair.

"Big Andy's" wheelchair ended up breaking midway through the Honor Our Heroes 5k over Memorial Day Weekend. So, naturally, two of his fellow veterans carried him across the finish line.

You can send our Nicole Grigg an email if you'd like to help Andy fix his wheelchair--