Chanting “Boston Strong,” all 76 members of Tedy’s Team started the Boston Marathon on Monday morning to help raise money for the American Stroke Association.

The group was led by its namesake, former New England Patriot player Tedy Bruschi, who started the team after suffering a stroke in 2005.

Each member of Tedy’s Team runs to help fight stroke, the nation’s No. 4 killer, and to honor or remember their own stroke heroes. Five team members are stroke survivors themselves — Bruschi, Christine Paul, Steve Chilton, Katie Jerdee and Brian Feldman.

This year’s run was particularly poignant for the group since last year’s race was disrupted by a bombing at the finish line, killing three people and injuring 260.

Tedy’s Team was shaken, but mercifully unharmed. The team met up and finished the race together several weeks after the incident and resolved to return this year.

That resolve turned to reality as runners arrived in the early morning at the house always loaned to them near the Hopkinton, Mass., starting line.

They excitedly greeted each other with hugs and cheers, then spent the morning stretching, massaging one another’s shoulders, pinning on their bibs and applying sunscreen.

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Runners repeatedly said,  “We’re here to finish the race.”

As the group moved outside for the starting line, only the sight of National Guardsmen – some of the 3,000 law enforcement personnel posted along the marathon route – caused a moment of somber reflection.

“We were incredibly fortunate that all team members were able to walk away from last year’s race safe and sound,” Bruschi said at a rev-up pasta dinner event on Saturday about returning to race. “I’m extremely proud of this team for being able to walk away stronger and more empowered than ever to finish the fight against stroke.”

Photos by Kathleen Parente and Allison Slattery