VALPARAISO — Ben Baltz wasn’t excited about competing in yet another triathlon last weekend.
It was his third in the last few months. While he likes bicycling, running isn’t his favorite activity, especially if he can’t win doing it.
The 11-year-old had completed the 150-yard swim and three-mile bike ride in Sunday’s Sea Turtle Tri on Pensacola Beach, but about a half-mile into the run, he knew something was wrong.
“It (the leg) wobbles,” Ben said Wednesday at his home in Valparaiso.
Moments later, the screws on his prosthetic leg came loose and he went down.
What happened next, though, has captured the attention of the nation.
In the moments Ben was debating whether he could hop or maybe crawl the rest of the mile, a man named Matthew Morgan, a Marine who had volunteered to help at the youth event, stepped in.
“(Morgan said) ‘You need help?’ and I said, ‘Sure,’ and he picked me up and carried me,” Ben said.
For the next half mile, Ben held onto Pfc. Morgan with one arm and his prosthetic leg with the other.
Ben said he and Morgan didn’t really speak after their first exchange, but more Marines gathered around and sang a cadence.
As they reached the end and the crowd started roaring, Ben said he felt grateful for the help, but a little frustrated and embarrassed that he couldn’t complete the course on his own.