Max Fraiberg, all of 6 years old, proudly wore his Long Island Half Marathon Medal.
He had joined his mother, Erica Fraiberg, 38, of Greenlawn during the last quarter-mile of the 13.1-mile race held Sunday, though she said he'd really been with her the entire way.
"I was thinking of him every step of the way," she said.
With her son in remission from Burkitt's lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer, Fraiberg ran the race and raised $4,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
"I felt like I needed to help," she said. "I'm not a doctor, I'm not a radiologist. . . . The only thing I know is to run. This was my way of helping."
From rookie runners to racing pros, Sunday's series of races -- a 26.2-mile marathon, half marathon and 10K -- brought together a mix of people looking to complete the race and conquer personal challenges along the way.
At Mile 4, Fraiberg saw Max and her husband, John, behind a fence on the sidelines and she said she nearly broke down crying. She hoisted Max over the fence near the finish line at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, and clutched his hand as they completed the course.
Then mom and son proudly donned their finishers' medals.
For walker Dianne Mofson, 70, weak knees were no match for a strong resolve and, after undergoing knee replacement surgery last year, she was determined to complete a half-marathon as a belated birthday gift to herself.
Sunday, Mofson, of North Bellmore, was one of 8,000 runners and walkers who crossed the finish line.
"My daughter got me across the finish line," Mofson said. Her daughter Cheri McQuillan, 45, who also walked the race, had coached her over the past few months.
For Shari Zimmerman, 60, of Westbury, completing the race was a way of bringing her closer to her son Adam who lives in Colorado. Her son, a cycling coach, gave Zimmerman pointers from afar about training for her first half marathon.
"He's my inspiration," she said.
After receiving a hug from her husband, Glenn, at the finish line, Zimmerman said: "At Mile 13 my hip hurt, everything hurt. Now, nothing hurts."
Scott Rechler, chief executive of RXR Realty, the event's main corporate sponsor, said more than 9,000 runners and walkers participated in either Sunday's races or the 5K on Saturday.
"This event always brings Long Islanders together," he said. "You see all the runners coming together, the people cheering along the route. There's a real sense of community."
Near the finish line, which was decorated with red, white and blue bunting, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano watched as racers sped by.
"From the first to the last, everyone's a winner here," Mangano said. "Every story is a success story."