by: Eric Philips Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte native Nicole Gross grabbed the world's attention and captured our hearts last spring.
Eyewitness News has been following the Boston bombing survivor's road to recovery since her release from the hospital in May.
Saturday marked a milestone for Gross and her family: she waived the green flag at Charlotte's Thunder Road Marathon.
It was an inspiring start to the Thunder Road Marathon in Charlotte Saturday.
While runners told Eyewitness News they were inspired by her presence, Gross said no one was more energized than her.
It was the first time she and her sister have participated in a race together since the Boston Marathon, where an explosion at the finish line injured Gross' ankle and took one of her sister's legs.
"We knew that since the bombings in April that we've had the community's support ... so it was really awesome to be able to see ... first hand," said Gross.
"I think it kind of united us all together again, and expressed to ourselves and everybody else that we're not afraid to be back at the finish line and to cross," said Gross' sister, Erika Brannock.
The 2014 Boston Marathon is less than six months away and Gross already has her sights set on the 5K.
"I hope to run, my goal is to run that," she said. "I'm just having to put myself first, I need as much time as it's going to take to recover physically and emotionally from all this."
But she said just being at the race in Charlotte with her husband, sister and mother fills her energy and gratitude.
"Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for keeping us strong because seven months ago I never thought that I would see all of us in the mindset, the mood and the physical recoveries that we've been able to overcome," Gross said.
The weekend is also special for Gross and her sister because their mother, Carole Downing, celebrates a birthday on Sunday.
Downing participated in Saturday's marathon with Gross coaching her every step of the way.
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