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Today is about remembering the coordinated terrorist attacks on the United States that took place 14 years ago today, attacks that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people. It’s about remembering the people that were lost, and it’s about honoring those who lost loved ones in this unthinkable tragedy.

One of those mourners, Josephine Smith, was 21 when she lost her father, firefighter Kevin Smith, just 44 at the time, whose life was taken in the line of duty 14 years ago today. Another one of those women is Theresa Giammona, a mother of four, who lost her husband, fire captain Vince Giammona that morning, which was also, sadly, the morning of his 40th birthday.

A few years ago Theresa was introduced to Josephine by a mutual friend, and their shared tragedy helped them form a powerful bond. Josephine (who is, in fact, now a firefighter herself) convinced Theresa to run a marathon with her. Theresa had always wanted to run a marathon in honor of her husband, who was training for a marathon at the time of his death, and had made plans to run a marathon on her own 40th birthday to pay tribute to her husband’s memory, but was unable to accomplish this goal when life (re: being the mother of four children) got in the way.

Thanks to Josephine, Theresa who self-labels as “definitely not a runner” finally found the perfect training partner.

“We formed a friendship and decided to run the marathon,” Theresa explained to People. “Josephine is very athletic and keeps me going.”

According to Josephine, the feeling of being fully supported is very much mutual.

“We support each other mentally,” Josephine told People. “We understand what the other is going through. We talk about my dad, her husband, what’s going on in each other’s lives.”

The two have been training together for the New York City Marathon on November 1st, and while this run is very much a goal they want to accomplish for their own personal fulfillment, they’re also using the marathon as an opportunity to give back. Theresa and Josephine will be running for Answer the Call, the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund. Answer the Call is a non-profit that has supported families of New York City’s Police and Fire Departments who have lost loved ones in uniform for 30 years. Answer the Call helped Theresa’s family, both financially and emotionally, when she lost her husband in the attacks.

In their training, both Theresa and Josephine feel like they’re running for their fallen family members.

“When I’m running, I visualize Vinny in front of me, pushing me to keep on going,” Theresa told People.

Meanwhile, in anticipating the marathon itself, Josephine explained “I always feel like my dad is there, and I am sure he will be with me the entire marathon.”

We are so glad that Theresa and Josephine found each other and were able to push each other to achieve their big dreams. We are so inspired by these women, who have let their grief lead them to a lifelong friendship in which they give so much to each other and so much to their community.

(Image via video, People Now)