The best thing I saw last week: A helping hand from start to finish
The following is an opinion column written by a Forum New Service editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of this publication.
I get to see a lot of cool things in this job that goes beyond the boxscore.
This is the first installment of my new column series called "The best thing I saw last week." It's going to be a running series of short stories about the things I see while covering sports that are bigger than the game itself.
This idea was inspired by a junior high cross country runner from Little Falls last Thursday in Perham. I'd been looking forward to this meet for some time. I had planned on a couple of big stories out of it about the history of the Perham cross country teams, and this was my last shot at making them happen.
I'm still not living in the area yet. I'm currently living out of my childhood bedroom at my parent's house in Brainerd. That will change this weekend when my new place is finally available, but it's been tricky trying to line up trips to Detroit Lakes and Perham over the last month and a half.
The plan was to get to town a few hours before the cross country meet as I had to stop by our Detroit Lakes office. A meeting went long, and deadlines were missed, which had me in a position to try and hurry to this cross country meet.
The GPS on my phone said I would get to Arvig Park at the start of the girls race. However, I parked in the wrong spot. I ended up by the tennis courts near the back of the race path. This wasn't a problem because I could see the junior high runners from my car. All I had to do was follow their path, and I would get to the finish line.
What I saw was something that made me take a step back. A young Little Falls runner with special needs was jogging with a helper behind him. His name is Keaton Marrow, and he runs cross country.
In the moment, I thought to myself and said, "My mom is going to love this story when I get home." It wasn't going to be anything more than that—just a kind person there for Keaton as he pushes through a cross country race.
It's not uncommon for different races to happen at the same time at a cross country meet. I was set up in a spot to take photos of the girls varsity runners coming down the home stretch towards the finish line. So were hundreds of other people, and that's when I saw the best thing from last week.
Keaton and his helper turned the corner and could see the end in sight. All of the spectators were waiting for their runners to come through about five minutes later. Collectively, they cheered on Keaton to cross the finish line like he was running for a state championship. Keaton, who was clearly exhausted, found a second wind and ran through the finish line.
There are so many things about this moment that made me smile. Seeing his helper run with him the entire race, the fans cheering him on to give him that boost, the smile on Keaton's face as he runs down the home stretch and more.
Sports tend to bring the best out of people. While each of those fans probably forgot about that moment seconds later, Keaton probably remembers it. It was a collective act of kindness from everybody involved to make a kid feel good about himself, and that's pretty cool.