LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Thousands of runners returned to Boston Monday to race in the Boston Marathon.

Just over a year ago, the race was the target a bombing. A local woman was there cheering on her family when she was hurt.

Nicole Gross and her husband Michael are a couple people adore. A couple who are healing now thanks to a community that embraced them.

There were races in their honor, fundraisers to help them pay medical bills. Hundreds showed up every time.

I think it's just a tribute to the power of people coming together and doing something for the good of someone else or for a cause that means something,' Nicole said.

And while their struggles and their story meant a lot to many people, it might have meant the most to the couple s closest friends and family.

Cadie Jessup met Nicole just months after she lost her own leg from a blood clot. Nicole helped Cadie complete her first triathlon. Now the table is turned and Cadie is helping Nicole.

It's role reversal, Nicole said, I've had a hard time with that because I don't like people to see me when I'm struggling. I'd rather distract from myself and focus on helping somebody else.

Because they can't run the marathon this year, the couple asked Michael's brother and a friend to run the race for them.

I knew that very day that I wanted to qualify for Boston, said friend Jonathan Story. I wanted to qualify and run.

In honor of Nicole? NBC Charlotte asked.

Absolutely, he replied.

Brother Brian Gross says, I think running for the family is a higher power. Seeing them at the finish line, knowing they re safe. This is a different year.

Going forward, this is just something that's a part of our lives and always will be, said brother Jeff Gross.

it's been a long road, said Michael.

We look back over the past year and see a lot of struggles, but a lot of positivity and a lot of great support, Michael said.

To come home and see the community and city embrace our family and our recovery... It's been the most beautiful healing experience we could have ever asked for, Nicole expressed.

Read or Share this story: http://www.wcnc.com/story/news/local/2014/07/04/11125296/