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Wednesday
Mar232011

An Important Race

Bobby Hanson stirred as the alarm clock went off. He rolled over, put the pillow over his head, and tried to go back to sleep. He didn’t feel like getting up yet. But in an instant Bobby remembered that today was going to be a special day—a different day, something he’d long been waiting for!

He leapt to his feet and put on his carefully laid out track clothes. Down the hall in the bathroom, he washed his face, brushed his teeth, and combed his hair, thinking about the exciting event that was about to take place.

“Bobby, breakfast is ready. We’ve got to get going soon, come on.”

Bobby headed to the kitchen.

“Did you sleep well, Bobby?” his mom asked.

“Boy, did I!” Bobby replied, as he gobbled down the eggs, bacon, and fried potatoes that his mother had cooked for him.

“Bobby, when you’re done, and your bag is packed, your dad would like to talk to you. He’s outside checking the car. He’s hoping to catch a few minutes with you before we all head off.”

“Okay, Mom! Thanks for breakfast … it was great.”

Bobby got his gear and then went outside where his dad was cleaning the trunk. “Good morning, Dad!”

“Hi, Bobby! Today’s the big day!” Dad said, as he stopped what he was doing, and put his arm around his son. “You’ve worked hard. You’ve done everything you could, and I imagine you’re kind of nervous.”

“Yes, I am a little nervous. … I hope I do well today.”

            “Son, I’m very proud of you. I’ve watched you prepare for today, and you’ve done your best. So I want you to know that whatever happens out there, in my eyes you’re already a winner. Don’t think that you have to win first place or else we’ll be disappointed. Of course we’re hoping that you’ll win, but the most important thing, Bobby, is that you’ve given it your best, and you’ve persevered through the training and now you have a race to run.

“You’ll be facing stiff competition out there today. It’s not going to be easy, but your mom and I both want to let you know that we love you. We admire you for all the hard work you’ve put into training, and whatever the outcome, we will be proud of you!”

Bobby was relieved to hear these encouraging words from his dad. He’d been worried about disappointing his parents, and he wasn’t sure if he could win the race.

“Thanks, Dad!” Bobby replied, as he jumped into the back seat of the car. What great parents I have! he thought.

Bobby’s younger brother and ­sister piled into the back seat. Then came mom, and off they drove.

It was the fourth grade sports competition for all the city grade schools. Bobby was part of the team selected from Riverside Grade School, as one of the best runners for the 220-yard dash.

Bobby was deep in thought on the way to the sports grounds. He thought of the crowds that would be watching from the bleachers: his ­family, his friends, and his teachers. With a lot of people rooting for him, he couldn’t help but feel nervous, though he tried to keep in mind his dad’s encouraging words.

            The field and track events were being held at Riverside Community Park, close to his school. Bobby knew the place well; he had gone there many times to train on the track. His dad often went with him, timing him with a stopwatch.

“Do you think you’ll win, Bobby?” asked Daryl, his younger brother. “I’ll be rooting for you. I think you’re the fastest out there!”

 “I guess we’ll see, Daryl. I’ll do my best, that’s for sure!”

When they arrived at the sports grounds, Bobby said goodbye to his family as they went to find seats on the bleachers, and he joined his team.

Coach Maverick had a few words to pass on to the boys before their events. “You’ve trained and worked hard,” he told them. “You’re a good team. We’ll be participating in different competitions, but we’re still a team. You’ve been chosen to represent Riverside and a lot of people are watching. I imagine you boys feel pretty nervous. But right now I want you guys to forget about those who are watching, or about winning or losing. I just want you to enjoy yourselves and do your best. Go out there and give it your best!”

While Bobby readjusted his track shoes, he took a few moments to pray. “Dear Jesus, please help me to do my best and not to worry if I win or lose. Help me not to feel so nervous, and please help me not to disappoint my mom and dad, the school, or the coach and my buddies. Please help me.”

As Bobby moved towards the starting blocks, he noticed that there was a big turnout! People were cheering as the different competitions took place. It all seemed so awesome—there were so many people, and so much excitement.

The announcer’s voice was heard over the loud speakers: “And now, ladies and gentlemen, for the next event … 220-yard dash.”

That was Bobby’s cue. He got in the ready position and waited for the starting signal.

As he looked over at the seven other boys lined up to run the race, he began to think about how they were probably feeling like him—nervous and anxious, and badly wanting to win to please their family, friends, and schools. He shooed the thought from his mind. I should be concentrating my thoughts on winning, not on how the other boys feel, he chided. He shrugged his shoulders and tried to focus on the race ahead.

“The 220-yard dash is about to begin,” said the voice of the sports announcer, which boomed across the field.

At the sound of the shot, the boys dashed forward, running with all their might. Bobby had trained vigorously, and it was now paying off. He was strong and in good shape, and was staying well ahead of the others—except for Stewart Davenport, who was close beside him and seemed like he would be a tough one to beat. Stewart was a friend of his who attended another school. They had even trained together occasionally when they had the opportunity. The other boys followed steadily on, not too far behind the two leading boys, Bobby and Stewart.

Bobby could hear the people cheering from the crowds. Somehow he just had to get ahead. He had to win. Just then, right in the middle of the race, Stewart tripped and fell, while crying out in pain. Bobby flew forward, happy, but at the same time sad for Stewart, who had been running so well. He had obviously worked hard, but now he seemed to have injured himself and was unable to get back on his feet.

Then suddenly, what seemed to be a crazy thought entered Bobby’s mind. “Go back to help Stewart.”

What? No way! thought Bobby. I’ve worked hard for months! I’m not about to give up this race, certainly not on purpose. Everybody is watching—my family, my friends—the whole school is depending on me. That’s crazy!

But as Bobby ran on, the small voice that had spoken to him grew louder, ­until it almost boomed in his ears, urging him to help Stewart. Bobby turned and ran back to Stewart, who was sitting on the ground rubbing his ankle. This made way for James Arnette to win the race. James was elated and the crowd cheered.

“Why’d you do that, man? You could’ve won!” Stewart asked.

“I don’t know. … I just felt like I had to. I felt like it was the right thing to do,” Bobby replied.

“Thanks, Bobby. You’re a great buddy. I’ll never forget that you did this for me. I was so embarrassed when I fell, and at first it hurt like mad! It helped to have a friend there with me. You know, you’re a great pal!”

After that, Stewart and Bobby became even closer friends. Throughout their ­school years they competed in a lot of the same races, with one of the two often winning.

That act of thoughtfulness by Bobby on the racetrack that day in sixth grade started a life-long friendship between Bobby Hanson and Stewart Davenport. Bobby gained something much more valuable than only winning a race; he gained a special lifelong friend. Most everyone who attended the race agreed that Bobby had gained in essential qualities: the ones of generosity and unselfishness.

S&S link: CB: Generosity-1b

Author unknown. Contributed by Christi S. Lynch. Illustrated by Catherine Lynch.
Copyright © 2011 by The Family International

Downloads

PDF: An Important Race (Japanese)
DOC: Una carrera importante
DOC: Uma Corrida Importante