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mrkstvns

Perseverence

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I found a very nice "Scoutmaster Minute" on the Kansas City Star website.  It's a little long for my tastes, but it incorporates a story of an Olympic athlete inside a story of a young scout.  I like it!
https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/community/joco-913/joco-diversions/article235999268.html 

 

My older son’s Scout leader was telling some of the other parents that he couldn’t make it to the upcoming meeting. Another one of those obligations had chased him down for that night, so he was looking for a fill-in to give the “Scoutmaster’s minute,” a story at the end of the meeting with a moral for the boys and girls to leave with.

I love a good short story, and no sooner had I started thinking about where I might look for some good prospects than I found myself down on the schedule to tell one the next night.

The past few weeks have been especially busy for me, to the point where I’ve been thinking of dropping some of my less essential obligations — projects outside work that other people will probably step up for, or at least things that won’t stop the world from spinning if they’re left undone.

So I was relieved to find something interesting to tell the kids about after just a few minutes of poking around the internet.

It was John-Stephen Akhwari’s marathon run at the 1968 Olympics. You might already know his story, but bear with me while I get everyone else caught up.

Akhwari didn’t clock a great time. In fact, he crossed the finish line more than an hour after the medalists, finishing last, in 57th place. Even the 56th-place runner had 19 minutes on him.

That wasn’t entirely his fault.

See, Akhwari and a few other runners had collided on the track and down went Tanzania’s only competitor in the race. The fall dislocated his right knee. They say observers expected him to limp off the track and into obscurity once he was bandaged up.

But Akhwari stood up on that knee and pushed through the pain until he’d put every inch of those 26.2 miles behind him.

When someone asked him later why he didn’t give up — as 18 other runners did that day — he gave a simple answer: His compatriots hadn’t sent him 9,500 miles to Mexico City to start the marathon. They sent him 9,500 miles to finish it.

That, I told my son’s troop, is how to handle the obligations you agree to take on for people: Once you commit to putting something on your list, do everything you can to check it off.

Then one of the young faces in the group snagged my attention. It belonged to a kid who’d hiked a couple of miles into town from camp with the rest of the troop last summer.

It was no marathon, but anyone could see that the loop back to camp seemed like one to this boy as he forced one aching leg in front of the other in utter exhaustion. Three adults slowed the pace to his while the rest of the troop disappeared down the trail.

The boy knew that if he really wanted to quit, all he had to do was refuse to move and we’d call a car to take him back to camp. But he trudged through the muggy afternoon and into dusk until he finally reached his cot on his own steam.

Miserable as he looked that evening, he told us later how proud he was that he hadn’t given up. And when his mom asked what he did at the camp she’d saved to send him to, he surely had a story for her.

That boy didn’t need to hear the lesson of John-Stephen Akhwari. He already had it by heart.

But I needed a reminder of that boy’s story.

It’s one thing for a trained marathoner to persevere as the world watches. It’s another thing entirely for a boy who doesn’t like hiking to burn through his meager reserves so he doesn’t let his mom down.

Facing him the other night, it seemed like I can carry those extra obligations I signed up for at least a little further down the trail.

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