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How you finish

June 9, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

"So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen." - Matthew 20:16

How does 40 meters turn into a national story?

How does one kind act turn into video on GodVine, GodTube, YouTube, an interview with Fox and Friends, an article on ESPN, articles and blogs from coast to coast and, most recently, one in the London Daily Mail.

I am of the opinion that we simply are not used to seeing something like that anymore.

Our society is used to crazy, negative people who garner their own television shows.

We would much rather turn to see what the crazy Dance Moms are up to, or the mothers on Toddlers and Tiaras, or how the Housewives of Some City are living.

What West Liberty-Salem High School junior Meghan Vogel did at the end of the Division III 3200 at the Ohio State Track and Field Championships at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at Ohio State University one week ago today has garnered national attention.

In fact, her act of kindness was No. 6 on SportCenter's Top 10 a few days ago.

Vogel was dead last in the 3200. Not far in front of her was Arlington High School sophomore Arden McMath, who had the slowest qualifying time of the 15 competitors.

Heading down the home stretch, McMath fell and could not get up. She tried again, and still could not get up.

Instead of running by her, Vogel stopped, helped McMath up, put her arm around her and helped her to the finish line.

As the crowd at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium stood and the applause grew with each step by both athletes, Vogel allowed McMath to cross the line before her.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." - Galatians 5:22-23

I have read numerous accounts on how Vogel has no idea why this is such a big thing.

She doesn't understand all the fuss.

In fact, all this attention she is getting is far greater than her personal-best in the 1600 to win the state championship earlier in the day.

I witnessed her crying her eyes out after her state title. People were asking her why she was crying - "because I'm so happy."

Understandable.

Why someone who could have contended for a state championship in the 3200 was in last place was simple - her legs were spent.

Instead of not running, which I am sure was never a though, Vogel started the race and eventually drifted to a place where it is uncommon for her to run - dead last.

She is used to being chased, not doing the chasing.

Yet, there she was.

Turning lap after lap, each time looking at her mother in the stands and smiling.

They knew her time in the sun was past and she was enjoying a nice run to finish her junior year in Columbus.

So, why stop for McMath.

"I figured I already ran my PR in the mile, so it didn't really matter how I finished in the two-mile, that girl needed help and I figured I'd help her out," Vogel told a reporter for West Ohio Sports Net after the race. "I wasn't really paying attention to the crowd as much, I was paying attention to the girl. She needed help and I just wanted to help her get across the line.

"She deserved it. She worked as hard to get here. She deserved to finish. She deserved to finish ahead of me."

"If you work to get to the state meet, you deserve to finish no matter who you are. I was going to make that happen for her no matter what," Vogel told WDTN News.

"I just couldn't believe she'd done that for me," McMath told the Dayton Daily News. "We're all in it together as distance runners. Everyone is trying to do their best. It's a lot harder on your body than a lot of the other races."

Vogel, quite simply, was the Good Samaritan.

"But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him," - Luke 10:33

"It's been crazy. I can't understand why everyone wants to talk to me, but I guess I'm getting used to it now," she said to ESPN. "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."

So, why has this act of kindness caught the attention of so many from so far away?

Because, sadly, it is now the exception rather than the rule.

It's how we used to be as a nation, as a society, as a neighborhood.

We aren't the Good Samaritan.

We are the people who have walked around the fallen.

Don't believe me, go read the posts regarding this story. Most are positive, but others are just so blatantly divisive and those give a long stare into our society.

This act is a heart issue and Meghan Vogel shows hers.

Congratulations.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com and can be followed on Twitter at @MathisonMike)

 
 

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