October 5, 2020
Prince Runner Shows Compassion During Race
As a Varsity Cross Country competitor, Prince Avenue Christian School senior Lizzy Coleman is accustomed to pushing hard and passing as many runners as she can in the final stretch of a race. So when Lizzy, who was on pace for a personal record and to place in the top ten, abruptly stopped in the last 15 meters of the meet, coaches and parents took notice.
Lizzy explains, “I saw a girl two people in front of me collapse. I ran over to her and saw her curled up on the ground. I knew right away she was not going to get up and finish on her own.”
Spectators watching the scene unfold at the state’s biggest invitational meet observed Lizzy help the other runner to her feet, hook their arms together, and encourage the hurting girl across the finishing line. “She had made it that far and deserved to finish like everyone else. She got to cross the finish line, and the medical assistants were able to take her from me to take care of her.”
When asked whether or not her own status in the race was a concern to her in that moment, Lizzy says her thought process did not include the competition. “This girl that I had never met before and will probably never see again was hurting and needed help. I just knew I had to help her. I have experienced the love of Christ, and helping her is what Jesus would want me to do.”
Those watching had the privilege to observe a dramatic shift from competitive showmanship to compassionate sportsmanship. Lizzy hopes that her choice that day will encourage others in a lesson she has learned from Varsity Cross Country Coach Michael Palmer. “Coach Palmer has influenced me greatly. He has taught me that being a Christ-like leader is more important than being the best athlete. We have so many chances to show God’s love on and off the course or field. Character matters the most. There is always someone looking up to you. Show them how to play while demonstrating God’s love.”
Coach Palmer describes the moment as one of the most memorable in his coaching career. “The number of people that were touched by watching Lizzy help this runner was remarkable. Lots of fast runners in Helen, Georgia that day, but only one of them stopped to literally be the hands and feet of Jesus for another person in need.”