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Boston marathon bombing survivor: 'We got our city back'

April 22, 2014 at 8:30 AM ET

Video: In the latest edition of TODAY’s “Shine a Light” series, Natalie Morales follows the stories of Carmen Acabbo, her sister, Celeste Corcoran, and Celeste’s daughter Sydney, and their emotional reunion at the finish line of this year’s race.

A year ago, Boston Marathon bombing survivors Celeste and Sydney Corcoran began their long road to recovery while side by side in a Boston hospital room. 

On Monday, the mother and daughter were together again, crossing the finish line at this year's marathon along with Celeste's sister, Carmen Acabbo. Celeste, 47, who had both legs amputated as a result of the blast, joined Sydney, 18, and Acabbo for the final stretch of the race. 

The trio served as an inspiration for TODAY's Natalie Morales, who spoke with them after also completing the marathon herself. 

"I did this for every single person who can't run this race for whatever reason,'' Celeste said. "They don't win. Hate doesn't win. It's always love that wins, and we got our city back." 

At last year's race, the first bomb detonated when Acabbo was only two-tenths of a mile from the finish line, where Celeste, her husband Kevin, and Sydney were waiting to cheer her on. Sydney nearly bled to death when a piece of shrapnel severed the femoral artery in her right thigh. 

Video: TODAY's Natalie Morales at the finish line of the Boston Marathon with Celeste and Sydney Corcoran and Celeste's sister Carmen Acabbo. The Corcorans survived the bomb blasts at the marathon last year, and the family crossed together one year later.

Monday's race began the same as last year's, with Acabbo at the starting line and the Corcorans waiting near the finish. This time, the mother and daughter joined Acabbo for a moment they will never forget. Wearing matching pink shirts that said "Corcoran Strong," the trio crossed the finish line together with their arms raised to a crescendo of applause at the race announcer said their names. 

"We did it!" Celeste said. "I didn't fall!" 

"I'm just overwhelmed,'' Acabbo said before starting to cry. "I'm totally overwhelmed." 

The marathon hosted 35,755 runners, the second-largest in its history. It took a year of hard work of recovery for Celeste and Sydney to return to the marathon and help Acabbo finish what she started last year. 

"I miss my legs, just plain and simple,'' Celeste told Morales a month before the race. "And there's nothing anybody can do except hold me, let me cry, and let me work through it." 

Video: Carmen Acabbo, whose sister Celeste Corcoran lost her legs last year during the Boston Marathon bombings, tells TODAY’s Natalie Morales that she’s ready to run the race as her sister, now using prosthetic legs, is expected to join her toward the finish line.

"The first thing she said when I saw her without her legs for the first time, I just looked at her and she said, 'I can't believe I didn't see you finish this thing,''' Acabbo said. "I mean, of all the things, you think your sister's gonna say the first time you see her, she's just got blown up by a bomb, and her legs are gone. I thought, 'I think we're gonna be okay.' I knew there was a long road ahead, but that was an encouraging start." 

Thanks to their determination and perseverance, Celeste and Sydney were able to turn the finish line from a source of pain to joy on Monday. 

"We're reclaiming this spot,'' Celeste said. "We're making it a happy place again."

"It's a happy place,'' Sydney said. 

After Acabbo approached the end of the 26.2-mile course, battling through the famous "Heartbreak Hill" at mile 20, her family helped bring her to the finish. For Celeste and Sydney, it was a chance to complete some unfinished business. 

"We finally saw Carmen cross the finish line,'' Sydney said. 

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