Roy Exum: ‘No (Runner) Left Behind’

Saturday, October 13, 2012
Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Ben Baltz was six years old when his parents were told their child had osteosarcoma, cancer in his right leg. But when the child’s lower right leg was soon amputated, J.C. and his wife Kim wanted to make sure that Ben would grow to learn he could do anything and, in the words of his mom, “needs to be thankful that he is able to do it because there are a lot of kids out there still fighting cancer.
“We just want him to get out there and participate in life,” she explained last Sunday when Ben, now 11 and a student at the STEMM Middle School in Valparaiso, Fla., competed in his third triathlon for kids.
The Sea Turtle Tri (“try”) included a 150-yard swim, a 4-mile bicycle ride and a one-mile run but his mom began to worry slightly when Ben didn’t appear at the finish line like he normally does.
You see, Ben wears his sports prosthetic when he plays sports like soccer, baseball and participates in triathlons but after he had changed from his “mechanical knee” to his “running leg” last weekend, he zipped through the swim and bike race before things went south. “My leg got wobbly,” he would later say, and soon a screw came out of the prosthesis, the apparatus breaking in half.
As Ben debated whether to hop or crawl after seeing the device  couldn’t be quickly fixed, he heard a voice ask, “Need some help?” Ben looked up and there were several United States Marines who had come from the Pensacola training station to help with the children’s event. The second he said, “Sure” a Private First Class named Mathew Morgan  swooped Ben up in one arm, grabbed the kid’s prosthetic leg with the other and started running the rest of the race.
Within three bats of an eyelash at least six other Marines joined the fallen runner and his newest friend and, with one calling cadence, surged toward a large crowd. The announcer yelled, “Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to turn around and look what is happening on the course…”
Glory of glories, there wasn’t a dry eye on the beach. John Murray, a race official, explained that the scene was more of “a buildup in a way because as more and more people realized the Marine was going to run all the way to the finish line, I was overcome with emotion.”
Ben’s mother was also very emotional. “Everybody was crying,” she said, watching the wiry Marine carry her son. “It was very touching that the Marines were there in the first place. They picked (Ben) up and everybody started cheering, giving them support and giving Ben support.”
The Good Samaritan act has rocketed its way around the country this week, been featured on CNN and nationally acclaimed. Capt. Frank Anderson, the commanding officer at the Marine training center, told CNN reporters he was very proud. It’s great to see what Marines do – not leave anybody behind – is exemplified by the youngest members of our institution.
“(PFC Morgan) is not a real big guy but he picked that young boy up quick, threw him on his back, and ran the rest of the course. We were all pretty pumped!” said the officer.
Ben, of course, was a little embarrassed – he’d rather have finished on his own – and is a little amazed at the wildfire roar the story has caused. “He thinks it’s just about the Marines,” laughed his mother but his dad may have had a premonition.
Shortly before the fun-filled race started, J.C. and Ben were throwing a football on the beach when his Dad stopped to give Ben some chocolate before the opening swim. On the wrapper of a Dove bar were the words, “You are exactly where you need to be.”
At the time Ben Baltz had no idea that the Marines were right where they needed to be too.
Semper Fi.

Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to  news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

Senator Corker's Laments

I hope Senator Corker has kept a list of all of his solutions to imminent problems/actions he foresaw during the past several years but to no avail.  Most of them have fallen too often with much fanfare by Harry Reid with nervous silence of his followers who are too accustomed to what follows to go the other way.  I am anxious for the day when the Senate can open without ... (click for more)

County GOP Chairman Says Mayor Berke Should Immediately Resign For Admittedly Using Encrypted Messaging With Top Staff

Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Tony Sanders said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke "should immediately resign after admitting that he and his senior staff employ an encrypted message application that neither records or stores messages sent and received for the purpose of official city of Chattanooga business on a government-owned server." He said he was guilty of "deliberates ... (click for more)

Grohn Says Berke Use Of Encrypted Message Service Was Deliberate Attempt To Avoid Open Records

City Councilman Larry Grohn said F riday  that the use of an encrypted message service by Mayor Andy Berke was a deliberate attempt to avoid the Open Records Act. Councilman Grohn, who is running for mayor, said, " In recent days, there has been one story after another come out concerning how the Mayor and his head staffers have used end-to-end encryption apps ... (click for more)

Quick-Strike Marion County Too Much For Tyner

The Marion County Warriors didn’t do a whole lot offensively in the second half, but they more than made up for it in the first half as they defeated the Tyner Rams by a 25-6 final at Finley Stadium Thursday night. The Warriors were forced to punt on their first possession, but they scored touchdowns on their next four possessions and that was more than enough to secure a big ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Volleyballers Power Past Ooltewah

Signal Mountain unleashed a potent front-line attack on Ooltewah on Thursday and the Lady Eagles blew past the Lady Owls 3-0 in  non-district volleyball action at Edward M. Foster Gymnasium. The set scores were 25-19, 25-22 and 25-15. Signal Mountain’s Aubrie Johnson, Maia Rackel and Olivia Powers combined for 30 kills and that proved to be a deciding factor in the ... (click for more)