The Story of The Medal

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One of the absolutely awesome- and yeah, I know I use that a lot, but really, it’s just a great word for this- AWESOME things about living in this day and age is the internet.

Yep.? The internet.

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My family makes fun of me for being tied to technology. They tease me about my “imaginary friends online.” They find it ridiculous that I carry my phone everywhere. Ok, that might be a bit ridiculous, I’ll give them that.

One of the reasons I am so connected is social media. News travels faster through Twitter or Facebook than anything else right now. It is often wrong, or misleading and needs to be taken with a grain of salt (and sometimes a shot of tequila), but it is a powerful communication tool in this ever changing world. And I absolutely LOVE it.

Out of the nightmare of Boston came a story I’m sure you’ve all read by now. Laura Wellington posted on Facebook an amazing update to her Boston marathon story. From Laura’s wall:

Please help me by sharing this!As some of you know, I was 1/2 mile from the finish line when the explosion went off. I had no idea what was going on until I finally stopped and asked someone. Knowing that my family was at the finish line waiting for me, I started panicking, trying to call them. Diverted away from the finish line, I started walking down Mass Ave towards Symphony Hall still not knowing where my family was. Right before the intersection of Huntington, I was able to get in touch with Bryan and found out he was with my family and they were safe. I was just so happy to hear his voice that I sat down and started crying. Just couldn’t hold it back. At that moment, a couple walking by stopped. The woman took the space tent off her husband, who had finished the marathon, and wrapped it around me. She asked me if I was okay, if I knew where my family was. I reassured her I knew where they were and I would be ok. The man then asked me if I finished to which I nodded “no.” He then proceeded to take the medal off from around his neck and placed it around mine. He told me “you are a finisher in my eyes.” I was barely able to choke out a “thank you” between my tears.

Odds are I will never see this couple again, but I’m reaching out with the slim chance that I will be able to express to them just what this gesture meant to me. I was so in need of a familiar face at that point in time. This couple reassured me that even though such a terrible thing had happened, everything was going to be ok.

photo credit: Laura Wellington

photo credit: Laura Wellington

It went viral. For those with limited internet knowledge- this is a GOOD thing. This is what the internet is good at- this is what social media nerds like myself live for! Laura reached out to the universe, and the universe answered.

Confession time: I do have some stalker like tendencies. I like to say that I use these powers for good, really, and no one should be calling the cops on me for what I’m going to confess here.

This story intrigued me. I knew as soon as I saw this medal shared on many, many, many friends walls that she was GOING to be reunited. I just knew in my gut that someone knew someone who told this version of the story in reverse. So I stalked the public posting of this on Laura’s wall.Laura, I am totally perfectly normal. I promise.

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And I was in tears, TEARS y’all, over what transpired on this single Facebook posting.

Friends and family and maybe strangers offered love and hope to Laura. They talked about where they shared this and prayed they would find her benefactor.

They suggested contacting the Huffington Post- and they got emails saying Huff Po was putting something together on this.

But no one needed the power of Huff Po- we had our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Soon after Laura posted this the friend of a friend appeared:

Jason- Katie Nelson: I have a friend that told me this story. He is the one that maybe gave u his medal. Message me and I will try an connect u two.

Jessica Norris Reading this from friends reposting, and a friend of mine have his medal up to a gal who was close to finishing while they were walking back to their hotel. I’ll post this on his page and see if it’s the right person, hopefully, this happened to more than one racer and that everyone offered up that kind of compassion.

Jessica Norris Jason and Katie- same friend!

Jessica Norris Posted and tagged him hopefully you’ll be in contact soon

Darci Ann Buck Hi Laura! It looks like you may have connected with the person who gave you the medal? (Brent?) I know him via Young Life… God noticing and loving you through another human being.

Brent Cunningham, 46, from Sitka, Alaska, has been identified as the good Samaritan who gave Laura Wellington his medal for finishing the Boston Marathon.
Brent and Karin Cunningham

Allison Stumpf Here is the news story of the couple telling their side and they mention giving you the medal. The link to the audio is at the bottom of the story. http://www.kcaw.org/2013/04/15/sitka-man-finishes-boston-race/

Did you feel it? Did your heart race a little bit? I waited with baited breath (and a little refresh action!) to hear more from Brent, the marathon runner with a heart of gold. He had been found… in ALASKA y’all!

Now you have to admit, this would not have been the case in 1993. Twenty years ago, we would not know the story of Laura and Brent. At least not like this. Maybe there would be a Sports Illustrated story in a week… but that’s a whole week! This happened in a matter of HOURS.

I love the internet, y’all. I love the social media concept when it is used to bring people together and not pull them apart. This powerful and awesome form of media reunited Laura and Brent, two strangers who would never know each others name if this didn’t exist.
Here’s a link from the local Alaskan news regarding the event including a wonderful video interview with Brent Cunningham.

Brent and his wife Karin changed the world in a small way that day. I know- a little dramatic there, Shenanigans? Well… yes. They made an impact on one total stranger… and she shared it with us. A billion or so total strangers. That’s change.

Brent and Karin, you two are absolutely amazing individuals. Thank you for being there for a fellow runner in need. You did everything perfectly.

#PrayForBoston


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Patty Holliday


If she isn’t chasing her four kids around Northern Virginia, Patty is chasing four bars on her phone to share her authentic and fun stories on social media and her blog, My No-Guilt Life. She’s also one half of the Marvel Moms, an online community for discussing the Marvel fandom. You can catch up on her runDisney fun at No-Guilt Disney.

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