NY cross-country runner stops race to help competitor with visual impairment


    In this Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018 photo provided by Karen Wylie, Cazenovia High School sophomore Jake Tobin, left, helps Fairport High School senior Luke Fortner, center, during a cross country race in Auburn, N.Y. Fortner, who is legally blind, fell towards the end of the race but was assisted by Tobin, and Jerry Thompson, right, his running aide. (Karen Wylie via AP)

    AUBURN, N.Y. (WSTM) - A Cazenovia High School cross-country athlete put competition aside during a race last week and helped a runner with impaired vision, who had passed him and slipped trying to get up a hill.

    Photos posted to Cazenovia Central School District's Facebook page show the moment when sophomore Jake Tobin chose to help Luke Fortner from Fairport High School, when Jake could've decided to keep going.

    "(Jake) was running towards the finish when a Fairport team member passed him," wrote Karen Kraus Wylie in the Facebook post. "Your XC (cross-country) team member did not only cheer and clap for him as the student tried to run up the hill in front of him, but stopped and helped him to his feet when he slipped."

    "And together we just carried him up the hill and then he ran. He beat me by 5 seconds or something," Jake said.

    Since then, Jake has received a lot of attention for his act of kindness.

    Results from the race show Luke beat Jake by 2 seconds.

    Jake's story is now appearing in The New York Times and The Washington Post. CNYCentral spoke to him Wednesday afternoon; he says he doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. He said he did what anybody would've done in that situation.

    "I still don't understand why everyone is making a big deal out of this. I felt like it was something that should be done and just do it," Jake said.

    Jake's mother, Meg, said she is not surprised by what her son did.

    "So proud of my son. It is a value in our family, to lift people up and my son literally helped lift somebody up," Meg Tobin said.

    For Jake's cross-country coach, he said this speaks volumes about the kind of runners on the Cazenovia Cross-Country Team.

    "You know, I am just so happy, I really am. It makes (me) smile and I get to see the character of these guys on display daily," coach Jason Hyatt said.

    "If I'm winning a race and all of a sudden I look to the left and I see somebody struggling, and I don't do anything about that, that's not winning," Jake added.

    News In Photos

      Loading ...