CNN PRODUCER NOTE bkruggel, whose son participated in the Sea Turtle Tri kids triathlon on Sunday, was watching the other kids cross the finish line, when 'the race announcer told everyone over the loudspeakers about the boy's problem with his prosthetic limb and that the Marines were carrying him to the finish,' he said. 'As the group came into view, everyone started cheering louder than usual, and I saw more than a few people crying as they crossed the finish line.'
The boy was 11-year-old Ben Baltz of Valparaiso, Florida. At six years old, Ben was diagnosed with bone cancer in his right leg and had his fibula and tibia removed. He walks with a mechanical knee and prosthetic walking leg, which he switches out for a running leg to play sports (including soccer, baseball and children's triathlons). On Sunday, Ben completed the 150-yard swim and 4-mile bike ride and half the one-mile run when a screw came loose and his running leg broke in half.
His mom was standing at the finish line, wondering what happened. 'It was only a mile, I knew he was tired, I was like, 'Where is he, where is he, where is he,' his mother, Kim Baltz, told CNN iReport. 'All of a sudden the announcer just said, 'Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to turn around and look at what's happening on the course' ... Everybody was crying. It was just very touching that the Marines were there. They picked him up and everybody was cheering and just giving them support and Ben support.'
Ben's mom said he was a little discouraged he wasn't able to finish on his own, and a bit embarrassed that he had to be carried, but his parents told him that he was an inspiration to a lot of people that day. 'We want to give him the message that he can do anything, and he has an inspirational story, and he just needs to be thankful that he is able to do it because there are a lot of kids out there that are still fighting cancer. We just want him to get out there and participate in life.'
Read more about Ben's journey here.
The Marine who carried Ben is Matthew Morgan, Private First Class at Marine Detachment Corry Station, a training command in Pensacola that brought 22 students to help at the triathlon. Capt. Frank Anderson, the commanding officer, said everyone is very proud of PFC Morgan. 'It's great to see what Marines do – not leave anybody behind – is exemplified in our youngest members of our institution,' he told iReport. 'He's not a very big guy ... he picked that young boy up quick, threw him on his back and ran the rest of the course ... We're pumped.'
- dsashin, CNN iReport producer
During the 2012 Sea Turtle Triathlon in Pensacola, a young boy's prosthetic limb broke during the run. Local Marines who had volunteered to help monitor the course picked him up and carried him the rest of the way to the finish line. There weren't very many dry eyes in the crowd cheering everyone on. The Marines also helped urge on many other racers and ran with them across the finish line. Semper Fi!
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