6.26.2011

Running On Empty


Have you ever felt like you're running on empty?  Today's post tells the story of an FHS Hometown Hero who helped a random runner refuel during a Cross Country competition.  
 Unless you've run a Cross Country course or attended a Cross Country meet, you may not completely understand the depth of this random act of kindness, but let me give it a shot.  Cross-country running is about staying the course.  It can be kind of lonely and it may seem a lot longer than the three miles you know it to be.  The course isn't typically smooth by any means, and often it's riddled with challenges like hills, holes, bends and brush.  A bit like life, really.
 Imagine now that you're the kind of kid who really isn't a natural runner, the kind of kid that doesn't necessarily even like competing. The kind of kid who’s giving it his all, but whose all doesn't seem to be nearly enough this time.  Maybe the kind of kid whose inner voice is talking him out of even finishing the trail.  The kind of kid who needs the team more than the team needs you.  What would you want?  What would you need?
 That's where Tommy comes in.  A high school senior, Tommy doesn't know this kid.  In fact, Tommy, a runner for an opposing team, is just a spectator during this particular race.  I’m not sure if he has already run his race or if he's about to, and I'm not sure it really matters.  What matters is that when Tommy notices this kid and sees that he's struggling, he joins the crowd in encouraging him and cheering him on.  That's nice, right?   But then Tommy does something that no one else did.  He jumps into the race to pace the kid.  To whisper words of encouragement and talk him through his breathing, keeping him in the game mentally and physically.  Not just with words, but with action, by running alongside of him.  Not just for a little bit, but for the rest of the course.  Tommy saw a need, listened to his heart, and helped that kid - who was clearly running on empty - finish the race.  This kid he's never even met.
 Touched by Tommy’s compassion, that kid’s coach wrote a note of affirmation and thanks to Tommy’s coach.  The coach read that letter at the Cross Country banquet, and Tommy got a standing ovation, not for being the Most Valuable Player, for winning the most medals, or for making it to State, but for his strength of character.  When good goes, it always comes back around. 
 It reassures me to know that there are teens like Tommy in this world, ready to help next time I’m running on empty!

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