A Scouter's Farewell

April 13, 2004
Troop 81, London, England

As the story is told, years ago at Special Olympics competition in Spokane, Washington, contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash.

At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with a relish to run the race to the finish and win.  All, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry where he lay.

Several runners heard the boy cry.  First one slowed down and looked back, and then another.  In an amazing moment, these runners turned about and went back.  One, a girl with Down's Syndrome bent, down and kissed the fallen runner and said, 'This will make it better.'  Then the small group rose and finished the race together.

Everyone in the stadium stood and cheered, and the cheering went on for several minutes.

A friend once asked why I would dedicate so much of my personal time and energy to the Scouting movement.  The answer, my friends, is found in this simple passage.  Deep down, what matters most in this life, is not whether we win the race, but that we run it with dignity and humility, and recognize that sometimes what matters more is helping others to finish their own race—even if that means we must slow down and change the course of our own race to do it.

Good night and farewell, gentlemen.