Before you read the story of 11-year-old Ben Baltz, I have a bit of advice for you. Grab a few Kleenex. Heck, just grab the whole box. Ready? Baltz was 6 years old when he lost his leg to bone cancer, but on Sunday he was out on the beach in Florida anyway, trying to complete a kids' triathlon with his prosthetic leg.
Crying yet? I'm a bit verklempt myself. Here this kid's being raised by parents who have managed to strike that oh-so-delicate balance between trying to protect their kid from being hurt and not letting anything hold him back. But it gets better.
The Marines showed up.
Technically there to help out at the triathlon, they noticed when Ben started flagging. They found out the screw had come loose on the prosthetic the 11-year-old uses for sports, splitting the leg in half. After the kid has already completed the 150-yard swim and 4-mile bike ride and half the 1-mile run, the Marines weren't about to let it all end there.
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So one private scooped Ben off the ground and hoisted him on his back, taking off running with a group of other Marines around him. The few, the proud, the Marines ran Ben all the way to the finish line.
OK, OK, I know you're bawling now. But I warned you!
The Marines really send this story over the top. They sound like true American heroes.
But I'll be honest. I'm still thinking about that little boy who swam 150 yards, biked 4 miles, and intended to run another mile with a prosthetic leg. Ben Baltz is a hero himself.
And so are Ben's parents. As his mom told HLN:
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.
We live in this world of helicopter parents who are terrified of even letting their precious snowflakes climb a tree. So many kids are at a point where they believe they're above even the smallest of struggles because their parents have raised them to put themselves first, to put the I in team.
Ben Baltz's parents, on the other hand, have done the opposite. Despite having to struggle through a childhood cancer diagnosis, despite seeing their little boy lose his leg, they've raised a kid who finished a triathlon on the back of a Marine and still admitted he was a little disappointed he hadn't crossed the finish line on his own power.
Now that's the kind of parent I want to be. How about you?
Check out Ben first learning to run back in 2009:
What part of this story moved you the most?
Image via BaltzFamily/YouTube