TODAY

TODAY   |  November 04, 2013

First runner with Down syndrome finishes NYC marathon

Jimmy Jenson ran into the history books at the New York City Marathon Sunday, becoming the first person with Down syndrome to complete the famous race.

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>> number of runners took part in this year's new york city marathon and one story in particular caught our attention. mara is here with details on that. good morning.

>> good morning. such an incredible story. jimmy jensen has down syndrome and decided to take up running. since then he completed race after race and has sprinted right into the record books with the help of a very close friend.

>> reporter: he crossed the finish line hours after the winner but jimmy jensen is still first.

>> great job.

>> reporter: the only person with down syndrome ever to complete new york city 's marathon. one of the world's most famous runs.

>> mom, i did it.

>> reporter: while jensen was joined by more than 50,000 other runners on sunday, for him, there's only one that mattered.

>> we're going to be marathon buddies, right?

>> that's right.

>> reporter: jimmy started running 12 years ago with the help of jennifer davis who he met through the best buddies organization fielding one-on-one relationships between those with intellectual disabilities and those without. neither of them were runners but jimmy had a simple idea. he wanted to do a 5k. together they did that and much more. since then, jimmy has completed a number of races with jennifer by his side including the l.a. marathon last spring.

>> does running make you feel good?

>> yeah.

>> along the way he lost 69 pounds and gained new self-confidence.

>> he would sit in the corner kind of cross legged. jimmy has become so much more outgoing.

>> reporter: the pair is inseparable. a personal bond that's so important for jimmy who lived had a group home since he was 8 years old.

>> what is it about running that's so bonding for the two of you?

>> i think it's a part of getting outside, being a part of the community. having a goal and reaching it.

>> reporter: but reaching the goal of crossing the finish line in new york is about more than just jimmy .

>> it's incredible for the movement and people with disabilities. it's just awesome.

>> let's do it. let's do it. all the way.

>> the final finish line is that everybody is so included and integrated in society that we don't even need a program like best buddies to be able to make that happen.

>> reporter: one man going the distance and inspiring an entire community and one very special friend.

>> thank you.

>> jimmy finished the race in just over 8 hours. he actually helped other runners too telling them that if he wasn't going to quit, then they couldn't quit either and he helped people cross the finish line that way.

>> we just met him and he is maizing. so much energy this morning. so congratulations.

>> yes, really cool.

>> making history. mara, thank you