Cross-country champ in Maine gives winning medal to blind runner

ORONO, Maine — Acts of kindness, respect and sportsmanship were more important than winning for a high school cross-country runner in Maine.

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Ruth White, a sophomore with the Orono High School girls’ team, broke the course record during a meet in Orono on Oct. 9, WCSH reported. After crossing the finish line, she walked over to Noah Carver, a blind runner who competes for Washington Academy, and draped her medal around his neck.

Carver, 18, was born blind due to a condition called Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, but competes in cross-country with his father, who runs by his side. The pair have been doing it since Carver was 5, the television station reported.

Cindy Moore-Rossi, who coaches for Machias and Jonesport Beals, was touched and impressed.

“I witnessed what I call the biggest class act of true sportsmanship,” Moore-Rossi wrote in a Facebook post.

Moore-Rossi quickly snapped some photographs to commemorate the moment.

“All of a sudden this lovely little sprite walks right up amongst us, we didn’t even see her coming,” Moore-Rossi told WCSH. “She just walks right up, stands in front of Noah, and says ‘Noah, I want to present my medal to you. I am proud of you. You did a great job,’ and she placed that medal on his neck and told him how proud she was. And as fast as she came over, she was gone. There was no fanfare. There was no cheering crowd. It was truly from this child’s heart.”

Moore-Rossi said watching White run “is an experience in itself.”

“I swear she never appears to even sweat,” Moore-Rossi wrote after White’s winning time of 14:29.05. “She seems to just float on air.”

Carver was floating after receiving the unexpected gift.

“I felt that she really recognized me as an athlete rather than the blind kid first,” Carver told WCSH. “And I felt that that was very significant, also.”

“No one knew about it until the next night when it got released on Facebook, no one,” Orono High School Athletic Administrator Mike Archer told the television station. “The only one that knew was her and that young man and his family. She didn’t even share it with our parents.”

It was an emotional experience for Moore-Rossi.

“I had tears dripping out of the corners of my eyes,” she wrote in the Facebook post, which has since gone viral. “Let me tell you that young lady did this with no one looking on. … it was from her heart that she did this.”

White’s best time at 1,600 meters is 5:06, according to WABI. She also has run a 10:45 time in the 3,200 meters and had a personal best 17:28 in the 5k at the Maine Festival of Champions.

White’s victory on Oct. 9 was another achievement, but giving Carver the medal was more meaningful.

“It’s not about the medal, but about showing him (Noah Carver) that people care and are impressed by what he does,” White told WCSH. “I’ll remember the day but the medal doesn’t mean everything.

“I am just happy that I could make someone a little happier that day.”

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