DENVER (CBS4) - Thousands of runners laced up their sneakers bright and early Sunday morning for the annual Colfax Marathon, half marathon and more in Denver.
Among the crowd racing down Colfax Avenue was a man who pushed himself 13.1 miles in honor of his new bride.
"It's sort of my way of giving back to a special lady," Jeff told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann.
That "special lady" is Britta, Jeff's wife and avid runner who has completed multiple marathons and half marathons. She ran the Colfax Marathon last year and as she reached the finish line, Jeff popped the question.
"He couldn't have planned it better because I had no idea he was going to be there," Britta said of the surprise proposal.
Everything was perfect for the newly engaged couple, but as they approached their wedding day things would take an unexpected turn. Weeks before the big day, Britta found a lump on her ribs.
"On March 15 we had planned to go to the courthouse to get married and go on our honeymoon the next day," Britta explained. "That morning I got a call from my doctor while I was running saying that my CAT scan had shown there were more. So, we canceled our honeymoon because we wanted to go and get the biopsy done right away."
Nine days after Jeff and Britta tied the knot they received the diagnosis.
"Stage 4 melanoma," Britta said.
Cancer was the last thing the otherwise healthy 35-year-old expected.
"My doctor's told me I couldn't run for a while because they found a tumor in my heart," she said.
Yet Jeff isn't letting the love of his life fight this battle alone. In hopes of inspiring Britta, Jeff ran the Colfax Half Marathon in honor of her.
"I thought about her a lot," Jeff said of the race. "This wasn't where I expected to be a year ago, but Britta didn't expect to be fighting cancer."
His heartwarming run keeps the couple on a path of positivity, along with the numerous strangers who are helping them raise money for Britta's rising medical costs. A GoFundMe account was set up in an effort to collect $50,000 for hospital bills.
"We believe in the power of positivity," Jeff said. "We're so grateful to everybody."
Britta and Jeff are positive they'll not only beat cancer together, they will run side-by-side when the Colfax Marathon returns.
"I felt a little sad that I wasn't running today," Britta said. "But I'm really looking forward to us running the full marathon together next year."
For more information about Britta's cancer battle and how you can donate, visit the GoFundMe page.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team in 2012 as the morning reporter, covering national stories like the Aurora Theater Shooting and devastating Colorado wildfires. She now anchors CBS4 Weekend Morning News and reports during the week. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @KellyCBS4.
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