Veteran Tackles 26.2-Mile Marathon 444 Days After Amputation
The number 444 signifies that one should focus on the present moment and allow their soul to guide them instead of their fears, Sergeant Major Kevin Bittenbender said in an interview with Hope for the Warriors. He successfully ran the 26.2-mile Pittsburgh Marathon exactly 444 days after his amputation.
Bittenbender’s story is one of resilience and fortitude in the face of immense adversity. Despite losing his left leg from the knee down due to burn pit exposure, he refused to let his physical limitations define him and instead focused on his goals. For example, those 444 days were filled with intensive physical therapy to get to where he is today.
In 2022, Bittenbender participated in the Pittsburgh Marathon using a handcycle provided by the non-profit organization Hope for the Warriors. This was after he developed severe post-traumatic stress disorder from an almost two-year deployment.
After that, he focused on doing things one step at a time, something he has lived by after 34 years of service in the military. Bittenbender adopted the same mindset while running the full marathon, stopping every few miles to adjust his prosthetic leg.
As he ran, he thought of his fallen friends: his Major, Master Sergeant Scott Ball, and Sergeant Jan Argonish. Bittenbender also had their names tattooed on his arms and the inside of his prosthetic limb, which he wore during the marathon.
Bittenbender’s achievement is a symbol of hope. It serves as a reminder that no matter what challenges we may face, we can all overcome them with hard work and determination.