The Boston Marathon has had its share of inspiring moments since its 1897 inception, but one in particular at this year’s race will have runners talking for years. Military vet Earl Granville, who wears a prosthetic leg, finished the race by carrying his guide with the American flag in hand, capturing the hearts of millions in a moment that quickly went viral.
Fifty feet before crossing the Boylston Street finish line on Monday afternoon, Granville looked over to his guide, Andi Piscopo, and decided to pick her up to give the crowd some laughs. The crowd instantaneously ate up the moment with cheers and applause. After the pair crossed the finish line, Granville put Piscopo down and was welcomed with a warm embrace as inspired onlookers rushed in to congratulate them. “To see him accomplish his goals, it makes me want to do more,” Piscopo told Boston’s WCVB. “He inspires me to be a better person.”
To be clear, Piscopo didn’t need help crossing the finish line. It’s not uncommon for some runners to use a guide when doing marathons, and Granville just wanted to have some fun. The pair have run several races together since Granville lost his leg. What he wasn’t expecting though was for this brief moment of fun to go viral and be such an inspiration. A video of the moment posted to the WCVB Facebook page has been viewed millions of times with people commenting “That’s what Boston strong is all about” and “Can’t stop watching, so inspiring.”
The veteran said he never expected it to take off the way it did. “Never have I thought this spur of the moment thing ‘here, let me carry you’ would blow up into something like this,” said Granville.
Army Staff Sergeant Granville lost part of his left leg when a roadside bomb exploded beside his vehicle while he was serving in Afghanistan in 2008. Life since then hasn’t always been easy for the Pennsylvania native. The roadside bomb that took part of his left leg also took two of his friends’ lives, and two and half years later his twin brother who also served in the military committed suicide. Granville said that was really the beginning of a downward spiral for him, resulting in a lot of unhealthy choices. He credits devoting himself to an active lifestyle as being a huge turnaround in his attitude and outlook on life. “I think my attitude changed a lot being active,” he confessed.
Granville has already completed the Boston Marathon three times, and finished marathons in Detroit, Chicago and New York as well. On Monday though, it was the first time he was running it without the use of his hand-bike. Running with the Achillies Freedom Team, a non-profit that partners able bodied guide runners with athletes who have disabilities, Granville joked that he didn’t’ know what was so inspiring to all the cheering bystanders.
Following his now famous crossing of the finish line, Granville has remained humble about the event and took time to pose for photos and thank people for their outpouring of support and well-wishes with a post on his Facebook.
“So, apparently I did something today,” he wrote. “Thank you everybody for your support. I”ll post more during the week… but until then, once again, thanks for all the encouragement. I’m so very grateful.”
Boston strong indeed.