People couldn't help but flock to Marine Cpl. Tim Read as he wandered through the crowd at the Huntington Beach 3/1 Marines Fun Run on Saturday.
Most folks shook his hand and thanked him for his service, while others snapped photos with or of him in the beach parking lot off Beach Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway.
Read, 24, was one of about 460 participants in the 5K race, which helped raise money for the 3/1 Marines Foundation. What set him apart from the rest of the pack, and attracted supporters to him that morning, was something rarely seen at a typical foot race: his prosthetic leg.
"[The run] gives me something besides school and working on my car to kind of focus on keeping in shape," he said. "I always ask when the next run is, the next time I can release some testosterone and get my endorphins flowing."
Read lost his left leg in October 2010 in Afghanistan when he stepped on a roadside bomb hidden in an embankment.
His artificial limb hasn't his diminished his desire to push himself.
He participated in the 2013 Dakar Rally, an endurance automotive race in South America, as a ride-along mechanic for Race 2 Recovery Motorsport Ltd., a racing team made up of disabled American and British soldiers.
Saturday's outing was Read's first 5K race, and it required some preparation.
"I run three times a week through an agility clinic," he said. "Then I'll do a long run maybe once or twice a week."
Huntington Beach adopted the Third Battalion, First Marines, commonly known as the 3/1 Marines, in 2005 as a way to support those who are deployed and their families, according to Councilman Dave Sullivan.
Sullivan said the money raised during the event helps pay for welcome-home parties, gas money for family members of deployed servicemen and other services.
"It's a way for the community to show that they care and support them," he said.
Read said organizations like the 3/1 Marines Foundation help families understand what their loved ones in the military, especially the wounded, are experiencing.
"A lot of families don't really understand what their son or daughter is going through when they're injured," he said. "Having your family there to support you is pretty crucial."
Read said adjusting to civilian life wasn't easy. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and used his family as "an emotional punching bag" to cope with his injury and the deaths of Marines who fought with him.
"Having family understand what exactly veterans are going through, and them having knowledge of what entails with an injury like this, definitely makes it much smoother," he said. "It probably prevents a lot of drama and stress down the road."