The Times-Picayune/Landov

TODAY   |  February 27, 2013

Man helps injured girlfriend through half marathon

When Monique Koll, who recently suffered a spinal cord injury, wanted to participate in the half marathon she ran last year, her boyfriend, Nick Zaunbrecher offered to push her wheelchair the entire distance and even helped her cross the finish line on foot. TODAY’s Natalie Morales reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> a moment of courage caught during a half marathon .

>> doctors weren't sure if monique would ever walk again. when she crossed the finish line with the help of her boyfriend, it touched hearts all around the world. behind this photo is a story of inspiration and determination and love. it's the story of monique coles and her boyfriend, nick donbracker.

>> the triumph of will over reason.

>> this 35-year-old mother was struck by an unlicensed motorist while riding her bicycle.

>> i broke his windshield and he broke my neck.

>> doctors weren't sure if she would survive, much less ever walk again.

>> it was really sad. i lost everything.

>> unable to feed herself at first, nick moved in to help her with her 6-year-old son, liam, with her recovery.

>> i was definitely very worried for a long time that there would be, you know, irreparable physical damage.

>> but monique began to heal, physical therapy on a bike, taking steps with a walker, amazing progress to others, but too slow for her.

>> i'm very impatient. i want it now. i'm trying hard and i want to reach my goal.

>> goals are important to monique . before the devastating accident, she had been training for triathlons. she had been in three, finishing third in her age group in one and first in another. she had run in last year's rock 'n' roll half marathon and was determined to do it again. i said well, might as well. nick offered to push and i said, okay, why not?

>> nick pushed her wheelchair the whole way till the end. then he pushed monique to stand up and helped her across the finish line , a huge step, but just one toward where she wants to be.

>> it doesn't matter how far back you start. it's where you get to. so keep trying till you get there.

>> monique 's doctors say her progress is very good. she hopes to run in next year's half marathon on her own. i'm sure she'll get there.