By Megan McCluskey
November 10, 2015

After Robert McCoy tripped and fell just 200 yards from the finish line of Saturday’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Savannah, Ga., a local police officer rushed to his aid. McCoy had hit his head on the pavement and cut his face, knees and shoulder, but still desperately wanted to finish the race.

“He was bleeding pretty good at the time, and he kept saying, in a whispering type of voice, ‘I’ve got to finish this race. Please help me, I’ve got to finish the race,'” Sgt. John Cain, of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department (SCMPD), told TODAY.com. “At that point, I knew he had some mission he needed to accomplish. My heart bled for him. Literally, my heart went out to him.”

Cain helped the 49-year-old injured runner stand up and cross the remaining distance to the finish line. After the race, Cain learned that McCoy was running in honor of his father, who passed away from cancer in April.

“I could feel in my heart that he needed to finish, there was a purpose for him doing so and he wanted to accomplish the goal. I am just glad I was in a position to help him do that. He is an inspiration to me, he is the hero in this story,” Cain said in a statement from the SCMPD.

To thank Cain for his helping hand, McCoy stopped by the police department to present his finisher’s medal to him on Monday. “He deserved it more than I did, because if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have finished the race for my dad,” McCoy said.

The original photo was posted to the SCMPD Facebook page on Saturday, and has since received over 8,800 likes and 2,700 shares.

Watch footage of the duo finishing the race below:

Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com.

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