During a week where gruesome crime dominated the Web, a high-school athlete in Ohio has demonstrated the better side of humanity.
In the 3,200-metre state championship race, Meghan Vogel, 17, was rounding the final lap with the finish line in sight when another runner collapsed in front of her. She could have run on. They were the last runners in the race, and as Ms. Vogel’s mom explained later, her daughter – who had won the 1,600-metre race with a personal best an hour earlier – had never finished in last place in a race before.
In that moment, she made a choice. She stopped and lifted the fallen runner, Arden McMath, to her feet and supported her the last 50 metres, careful to keep Ms. McMath in front so that she crossed the line first.
As Ms. Vogel explained later, “if you work to get to the state meet, you deserve to finish … no matter what.”
The video of the race has since gone viral. Ms. Vogel and Ms. McMath have been making the rounds on various news networks, which jumped at the chance to share a story that wasn’t about teen bullying or tragedy, but a small act of kindness between strangers.
“It’s been crazy,” she told ESPN’s Doug Binder, responding with a modesty notable in itself in the current “look-at-me” culture that social media has cultivated. “I can’t understand why everyone wants to talk to me, but I guess I’m getting used to it now. It’s strange to have people telling me that this was such a powerful act of kindness and using words like ’humanity.’ It’s weird. When I hear words like that I think of Harriet Tubman and saving people’s lives. I don’t consider myself a hero. I just did what I knew was right and what I was supposed to do.”
Harriet Tubman was an African-American abolitionist who saved the lives of dozens of slaves using the network of the Underground Railroad. The fact that a 17-year-old would reference a Civil War activist as her hero was also not lost on commentators.
Under the rules, a runner who helps another is supposed to be automatically disqualified, but officials allowed the results to stand, ABC reported. Because sometimes, a race is more than just a race.
And these days, the world is hungry for a hero.
In keeping with Meghan Vogel’s good deed, what other acts of kindness have inspired you?