An wonderful act of sportsmanship at a cross country meet is being celebrated by local residents in Iowa.
A video making its rounds on social media captures Evan Hansen, a sophomore at City High School, helping his friend cross the finish line. Hansen’s friend is Adam Todd, a junior at Washington High School who has epilepsy and associated autism.
During the meet, Todd ran off course after a passing ambulance captured his attention. Such distractions are common for Todd in track meets, as his condition makes focusing difficult.
When Hansen spotted him about halfway through the race, he grabbed Todd’s hand and led him to the finish line. As the two raced across the final bridge hand in hand, the crowd cheered in approval.
“When I crossed the bridge, I think almost everyone still at [the Noelridge Park course] was there,” Hansen said. “They were clapping. Some were crying, I think. It was pretty loud.”
Todd crossed the finish line followed by Hansen, but at that point, the two could care less about the results.
“It was a really neat display of this is what it’s all about,” Adam’s mother, Sara said. “This is what’s important. It not only good sportsmanship, but just taking care of each other.”
Todd has run cross country for several years, as the grueling activity helps him connect with his peers, even though his physical challenges create obstacles.
“He loves to run,” Sara said. “The course at Noelridge, it’s a great course, but it’s a little tough because there are several places where you go right by this really busy road, then you go by a playground. So I was thinking, ‘Oh boy, this one’s going to take him a long time.’”
The race was Hansen’s first of the year, but pain in his knees has previously made it difficult to persevere amid long races. Todd’s determination and smile kept him going.
“In the last stretch, I was definitely very tired,” Hansen said. “He was kind of carrying me along.”
Many onlookers commented on the amazing sportsmanship Hansen displayed.
“Coming up the finish line I was getting choked up,” City High School Coach Jayme Skay said. “All the fans were yelling, all the City High kids. There was just a huge smile on Adam’s face. And Evan, he’s such a good kid. For him to take time out and do that, I know he was feeling it coming in.”
The image of the two finishing hand in hand is sure to remain in the hearts and minds of many who witnessed the race.
“I think to have a peer stick with you, that’s really special,” Sara said.