An inspiring story of courage by a young cancer survivor running in just his third triathlon was intertwined with the generosity and a “Can Do” attitude by some local marines yesterday. The bold act of kindness changed the outcome of the race from “cannot” to “we will” finish this race … together.
Bone cancer-survivor Ben Baltz, 11, was participating in his third triathlon of the summer. (Baltz, lost the lower portion of his right leg during a battle with bone cancer at the age of 6.) During the last 1/2 mile of the race his prosthetic leg broke.
His mother, Kim Baltz, was waiting at the finish line and wondering where he son was when she heard the announcer say:
"Turn around and look at what’s happening on the course."
What happened next was simply to inspiring for words to describe.
A group of Marines including Matt Morgan, a 19-year-old Marine from San Diego, were volunteering at the event when they saw young Ben fall within sight of the finish but much too far for him to complete on a single leg.
Matt scrambled to the young runners side to see if he could fix his prosthetic after he collapsed. A few moments of fumbling, the leg was found to be not repairable in the field and the boy would be unable to finish the race under his own power.
Like any Marine, Matt without a second thought scooped up Baltz and began to run toward the finish line.
Matt Morgan:”He was going to finish the race no matter what, but I told him to jump on and we finished the race together.”
This story is not over however…
Once Morgan started running with young Matt on his back, all the other Marines on the course began lining up behind the piggyback pair in double file, creating a military procession all the way through the finish line, leaving everyone on the course crying as the Marine, the boy and the Marine contingent in formation following behind crossed the finish line together.
Kim Baltz, Ben’s mom: “It just made me start crying that they would have picked him up and helped him finish the race.”
If that does not bring tears to your eyes, heaven help you…
Oorah Marines and Thank You from everyone