(WHTM) — May is military appreciation month and mental health awareness month, and one Pennsylvania veteran is putting a face to both.

abc27 first spoke to Pennsylvania veteran Kevin Bittenbender last year when he handcycled the Pittsburgh Marathon, now he has a new goal- to run it.

“When I handcycled it last year, I was less than 90 days from surgery, from having my leg amputated,” Bittenbender said.

One step at a time; something Bittenbender has lived by after 34 years of service in the military, losing his leg due to burn pit exposure.

“This Sunday will mark 444 days, exactly, post-surgery,” Bittenbender said.

abc27 caught up with Bittenbender before that surgery, when he handcycled the Pittsburgh Marathon with a cycle given to him by Hope for the Warriors after developing severe PTSD from an almost two-year deployment.

“He had the ups and downs of a service member and more downs, and some ups, he at the time was like ‘What’s next for me?'” Sports and Rec Director for Hope for the Warriors Jenna McDonald said.

While overseas, Bittenbender lost three dear friends: his Major, Carlisle Master Sergeant Scott Ball, and Scranton Sergeant Jan Argonish. His Major left him with the question “What’s your legacy.”

“Major officer is with me every day, so is Jan and Scott,” Bittenbender said.

Their names are tattooed on his arms and the inside of his prosthetic, which he will now run the Pittsburgh Marathon with on Sunday, May 7.

“I hope that I can live my life, you know, worthy of their sacrifice and the legacy that, you know, major fear has left behind and has instilled in me,” Bittenbender said.

While they will be there in spirit, some special people are joining him physically. His service dog Kirby will be completing the first and last lap with him. And the surgeon that performed his amputation will run the entire marathon with him.