SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A local Marine who lost part of his leg while serving in Afghanistan is embarking on a new life-changing journey.
Marine Corps Capt. Eric McElvenny is teaming up with football legend Hines Ward to train for the 2013 Ironman World Championship Triathlon.
That life-changing journey will be captured on camera reality show-style, and then aired via webcast. It's a personal journey with an almost surreal twist -- training for this 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a full marathon alongside one of his all-time heroes.
"I didn't know if I'd be able to be as active anymore," Eric said.
He lost his right leg in an IED explosion while deployed in Afghanistan in December 2011. The 29-year-old San Diego man had no idea what life would hold next.
"I'm able to do almost everything, and now I'm aspiring to run an Ironman," he said.
He'll be running one of the most grueling triathlons ever with one of his most powerful role models, former Pittsburgh Steeler and Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward, who selected McClvenny and two other everyday athletes to train for and complete the 2013 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.
"I've been cheering for him through the television screen for the past 14 years," Eric said.
The father, Marine Corps captain and Pittsburg native was picked out of hundreds of other applicants nationwide through an organization called Refuel: Got Chocolate Milk? to train with the Super Bowl legend.
"I think he's going to be able to push me to train harder and do better," Eric said.
It's inspiration that Ward says comes from within.
"I don't listen to what my naysayers say, I believe in myself and I know how dedicated I am to getting the job done," Ward said.
"I'm gonna get out and run this Ironman. I am going to train for it and I am going to overcome my obstacle. Hopefully I can help inspire others," Eric said.
McElvenny is already an inspiration. Last year, he completed two Sprint triathlons, and in the coming months will be competing in others as he works up to the Ironman in October.
In fact, he and Hines Ward will be competing together in a triathlon here in San Diego later this month.