All too often Christians make headlines for negative actions or attitudes. These stories tend to garner the most media buzz. But in the midst of the Boston Marathon tragedy, one Christian made international news for his act of kindness and generosity.
Shortly after the bombs exploded, Brent and Karin Cunningham, along with their daughter Megan, encountered a runner who was unable to finish the race because of the explosions. Marathon rules only allow for those who finish the race to collect a medal, and Laura Wellington was a half-mile from the finish line when the bombs detonated.
Brent, who had only qualified for the marathon by 90 seconds after attempting for two years, saw Laura sitting on the street curb sobbing. Though she had a race bib, she didn’t have a medal. After confirming that Laura knew her family was safe, Brent placed his medal on her and said, “You’re a finisher in my eyes!”
The next day Wellington wanted to track down the stranger who had shown kindness. She posted a plea on Facebook. “I was so in need of a familiar face at that point in time,” she wrote. “The couple reassured me that even though such a terrible thing had happened, everything was going to be OK.”
The story caught my attention not just because of the extreme kindness and compassion, but because we knew Brent and Karin Cunningham from living in Sitka, Alaska.
Brent is the regional director of Alaska Young Life, and spends his life ministering to teens throughout the region.
On Thursday night, Brent had the opportunity to reconnect with Laura Wellington thanks to ABC’s 20/20. They shared a three-hour dinner with Laura’s family. At the end of their time together, Laura said she had something for Brent.
She reached into her pocket and pulled out a Boston Marathon finisher’s medal.
“You listen to me, Laura Wellington, I don’t want my medal back,” Brent said. “It’s yours. My gift to you.”
“Brent, this isn’t that medal,” Laura said. “This is my medal. I got my medal a few hours later when I picked up my bag. I want you to have my medal.”
Now Laura has Brent’s medal and Brent has Laura’s medal.
We couldn’t be more proud of Brent and Karin and are celebrating this amazing story. May all be inspired to be known as Christians who behave awesomely.