Ray Jerauld Jr. stood on Boylston Street in front of Marathon Sports, a running store near the Boston Marathon's finish line.
He was there with his mother, Ginny, after flying north for his grandmother's funeral.
It was 2015, the last time Jerauld, a Boston native living along Florida's Gulf Coast, was in Beantown.
It also was when Jerauld decided to take a photo at the finish line.
But he made himself a promise, too.
"I'm not crossing this finish line unless I earn it," Jerauld said. "Just had some kind of reverence to what that meant to people."
Jerauld, now 45, qualified for the Boston Marathon, one of the three major marathons in the United States, at the New York City Marathon in November 2016.
That date and this year's Boston race, scheduled for Monday, were made possible because of a different date: Aug. 12, 2012.
Until that point, Jerauld had struggled with alcohol addiction.
Ray Jerauld Jr. jokes that because he's an Irish Catholic from Boston, they could have put alcohol on his birth certificate.
As an adult, drinking was part of Jerauld's life — like it is for many people.
"You walk into a gas station, a supermarket, a convenience store, Walmart, there's booze everywhere," Jerauld said. "You turn on the TV, you go out to eat. It's wherever you go."
His thirst for alcohol got so bad, he said he had to drink to stop from getting seizures.
That wasn't his rock bottom.
Neither was the time when his heart stopped. Or when he was homeless in downtown Atlanta.
"All I thought about was drinking," Jerauld said. "I didn't care about the wreckage around me."
When his heart stopped in the parking lot of Bradenton's St. George's Episcopal Church following a trip to the ABC liquor store off 14th Street West, Jerauld woke up at Manatee Memorial Hospital.
He checked himself out to get back to drinking the next day.
Before that, Jerauld was homeless in Atlanta. But his parents, Ginny and Ray Sr., didn't give up their fight to help their son.
They relocated to Lakeland and brought Ray Jr. south from Atlanta. He checked into an inpatient rehab center in Arcadia.
A move to a halfway house in Bradenton followed.
Before becoming sober on Aug. 12, 2012, Jerauld was in and out of rehab centers 26 times.
"I couldn't get a handle on it," Jerauld said.
Instead of taking responsibility, Jerauld said he blamed others.
"It's real convenient to try to blame someone else and not look in the mirror," Jerauld said.
Jerauld attempted to check himself into two rehab centers in Central Florida to detox on Aug. 11, 2012, but he was denied because his blood alcohol level was too high.
Jerauld said he was told he needed to go to a hospital.
So he called the police on himself and told them he was dying.
"They sent a couple officers over and gave me a breathalyzer and said, 'You're pretty right,' " Jerauld said.
After the police asked Jerauld if he needed help, they loaded him into a police vehicle and drove him to Bradenton's Centerstone Hospital and Addiction Center, then known as Manatee Glens.
The next day, Jerauld spoke on the phone with his future fiancee, Christina. She was a friend, originally meeting Jerauld while working at Sabrina's Gulf Coast Window Cleaning in 2011. She told Jerauld they needed to steer clear of each other because she started sobering up a month earlier.
"He just heard something in my voice and a change," Christina said. "And it gave him hope that it was something he could do as well. That's the way he tells it."
After the phone conversation, Jerauld returned to his room and got on his hands and knees.
"I cried like a baby and prayed," Jerauld said. "I didn't pray for sobriety. I prayed for the obsession to go away."
Crediting an incredible support system — specifically his parents, Christina and Alcoholics Anonymous — Jerauld worked toward sobriety.
Aiding his effort was Centerstone allowing him to join their 45-day residency program despite not having insurance or a job.
"I didn't have a penny to give them," Jerauld said. "And they did everything they could to get me in that residential program as long as I didn't leave."
He didn't. He was exhausted and didn't have anything left in him to continue drinking.
Sports interceded to fill the void.
A year after getting sober, Jerauld quit smoking.
A year after that, Jerauld gained 65 pounds.
Exercise entered the picture. He joined a gym but didn't have a passion for running.
At least, not at the start.
The dislike for running started long before Jerauld arrived in Bradenton.
Attending Waltham High about 15 miles outside of Boston, Jerauld joined the school's track team in the 1980s.
It didn't last as Jerauld hated it and quit, opting to pitch on the school's baseball team.
"There wasn't a lot of running with pitching, so it was perfect," Jerauld said.
So when Manatee School of the Arts history teacher Luis Oliva suggested Jerauld should try running, the hesitancy was natural.
"I literally couldn't run around the block," said Jerauld, who is the facilities manager at the Palmetto school.
Jerauld didn't give up, even when frustration took hold.
He said he thought about returning to the gym, but Oliva told him to stick with running.
Gradually, Jerauld was hooked.
"No matter what mood I am in leaving the door, I always come back in a better mood, even if it was a bad run," Jerauld said.
Jerauld went from racing 5Ks to training for marathons.
Before the 2016 NYC Marathon, Jerauld failed to qualify for Boston when running in the Tomoka Marathon in Ormond Beach.
To reach this Monday's race, Jerauld needed to drop 30 minutes off his marathon time. So he started working with a coach, Alicia Rider. Rider, who is based in Winston-Salem, N.C., met Ray through a running group on Facebook about two years ago.
She immediately saw ways he could improve.
"The next week he hired me as his coach," Rider said.
Rider said she advised Jerauld to not run as fast and to dial his runs back a bit in training for a marathon.
It worked when New York came around. His time was 3:17:37, and Rider said the splits were 8 seconds apart.
"It was truly an art form doing what he did in New York," Rider said.
Jerauld's goal Monday is to qualify for Boston again, but also to beat his NYC time.
"Being from Boston, I'd like to beat New York," said Jerauld, who also has competed in the Chicago Marathon.
Just getting to the race is significant, considering what Jerauld went through to get his life together. It's something not far from the opioid epidemic throughout Manatee County and the nation.
"I'm tired of watching these people die, whether it be alcohol or drugs or whatever," Jerauld said. "Because you don't have to."
Added Christina: "I love the person he's grown into today. I'm extremely proud and he's worked very, very hard for this."