Sunday, Army Capt. Mike Keilty finished the Philadelphia Marathon in just three hours, beating his personal goal by 10 minutes. But he wasn't running for the sake of personal fitness -- his goal was to raise money and awareness for the families of wounded and fallen service members.
"This is the little piece that I can do," said Keilty, who estimates his efforts will raise up to $100,000.
Keilty partnered with a company called Take Pride, which designs T-shirts to raise money for the wounded, and a special shirt was designed to support his "Race for Heroes." One hundred percent of the money raised will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides support to families of injured service members.
Not a long-distance runner by nature, Keilty decided to run this marathon for charity to honor three of the fallen who are especially close to his heart -- Mike LiCalzi, Ronnie Winchester and James Regan, who all attended New York's Chaminade high school with him.
"They represent all the wounded and all the killed in action for our country," said Keilty, who ran the marathon while home on a two-week leave from Afghanistan. He will return to the battlefield a few days after Thanksgiving to complete his 12-month tour.
This is Keilty's second deployment to the Middle East, and this weekend he also ran in honor of those his unit lost during his first deployment in 2004.
"These are basically people who have given a blank check to the American people, payable up to and including their lives," he said, "That is an amazing thing, and I want to make sure we honor them."
For the last few months, Keilty trained in the mountains of Afghanistan to prepare for the race, waking up at the crack of dawn to run about 70 miles per week. The high-altitude training helped him speed through the Philadelphia course, but even when the going got tough Keilty had the motivation he needed to keep going.
"That last 10 yards all those guys were with me -- Ronnie, James Regan and Mike LiCalzi," he said. "I know they were up there looking down, and it felt good."
Keilty will return to Afghanistan in a few days, where he will continue his running regimen through the Afghan mountains. His next goal is to raise more money for the wounded by running the Boston Marathon this April.
"These guys gave so much," he said. "I am doing a very simple thing here. I'm putting one foot in front of the other and running. If I can do a little thing like running a race, then I will."
Bob Woodruff and Meena Hartenstein contributed to this report.