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.

Roy Exum: In Just 23 Minutes

When ‘The Atlantic’ magazine came out with its online edition Tuesday, a story appeared about Donald Trump’s new National Security Advisor, Lt. General H.R. McMaster. It was written by a dear friend that the general and I both enjoy. Since the story appeared, it has been referenced in a myriad of other media outlets and its author has done numerous interviews. As I take the liberty ... (click for more)

Mayoral Analysis

Why have I received four very expensive glossy three-panel fold-out flyers in the U.S. mail, seen several expensive spots on television, been deluged by “Berke for Mayor” signs everywhere, experienced a newspaper that is supposed to have two fair views on topics, however only encourages me to vote for the one person for mayor who should have done well enough over the last four years ... (click for more)

City Police Officer Seriously Injured In Crash On Dodson Avenue

A Chattanooga Police officer was seriously injured in a crash on Dodson Avenue on Friday afternoon.   Police said the injuries to Sean Lynch, 38, are not life-threatening.   Police responded to a traffic crash at 1400 Dodson Ave.   The crash involved a silver Ford 350 van,  (Vehicle #1) a white Ford Crown Victoria police cruiser driven by Officer ... (click for more)

Lawsuit Charges That Georgia Law Firm Stole One Of The Woodmore Elementary Cases From Chattanooga Attorneys

A Circuit Court lawsuit charges that one of the Woodmore Elementary bus wreck cases was stolen from a Chattanooga law firm by Georgia attorneys just shortly after the Nov. 21 tragic crash that killed six students and injured others. It is illegal in Tennessee for attorneys to contact victims of a tragedy for 30 days after the incident. The lawsuit brought by Carl Lewis, father ... (click for more)

Amazing Bradley Builds 32-0 Lead, Routs Cookeville 69-35 In Region 3-3A Tournament

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Bradley Central’s top-ranked Bearettes went into Friday’s Region 3-3A quarterfinal basketball game against Cookeville with several thoughts in mind. Sending a message was one of them. Stamp it delivered. The Bearettes, now at 30-0 with the tradition-rich program’s third-longest winning streak in its history, overwhelmed the Lady Cavaliers with a ... (click for more)

Macon County Ends Season For Signal Mountain Girls

The Signal Mountain Lady Eagles entered the first round of the Region 4-AA basketball tournament as the District 7-AA champions and riding high on a seven-game winning streak. The Macon County Tigerettes came to Signal Mountain Friday night for that first-round game on a two-game losing streak and still hurting after finishing fourth in last week’s District 8 gathering. But ... (click for more)