ELIZABETH–The story of the “good Samaritan” told so long ago, lives on, as evidenced this week at the 74th Union County Championships, when Benedictine Academy runners chose to interrupt their cross-country race during the height of competition in order to attend to the wellbeing of an ill runner from a competing school. They were honored by their own school on Oct. 27 for their compassion and sportsmanship.
The saga unfolded as the Benedictine freshman cross-country team was running its two-mile race on Oct. 26 at Warinanco Park in Elizabeth. Three- quarters of the way into the race, Benedictine student Tahjanaya Dorival noticed a Governor Livingston High School runner lying face down in the dirt on the track. Also observing that other runners were passing the girl by, Dorival decided to stop racing and offer her help. Five other Benedictine teammates did the same.
“Her face was in the ground,” Dorival recalled. “I just felt badly for her. I thought about getting help,” Dorival explained. The stricken runner was conscious but couldn’t get up, and Dorival “was worried she might stop breathing.” While Dorival was talking to the girl, Benedictine runner Aaliyah Hill-Grevious interrupted her running to offer help, trying to reach her school’s track coach, Angelo Clark, who was on the other side of the park waiting for the varsity team’s meet to start.
Clark advised the girls to call for assistance, and at that moment, Benedictine runners Alyssia Hudson and Ramira Mayse arrived. They used a cell phone to call 911. With the stricken student now unconscious, Benedictine teammates Deja Rudolph and Zhane Lee stopped to offer their help. Lee was on her way to the varsity meet, while Rudolph was running in the freshman meet. Out of the six girls offering help, two (Dorival and Rudolph) never got to finish their championship race. Grevious completed her running in the freshman meet. Hudson, Mayse and Lee all were able to compete in the varsity event.
Following the event held at Benedictine Academy in their honor the following day, all six runners remained unphased by the attention. They were more concerned about the physical condition of the Governor Livingston runner. They reported that they have been emailing the girl’s coach, sending best wishes and prayers. While on the track, the girl returned to consciousness but was taken by ambulance to a local hospital for observation.
“We didn’t care so much about sacrificing the meet,” Mayse stated. “We’re not thinking of the race at all now, we are all praying for her recovery,” she added. Mayse said, “We feel like we did a good thing. If we didn’t stop, we wondered, who would have?” “It was our duty to stop,” she said.
Hudson believes that “being in our religion classes at BA helped us to know what to do. Our motto at school is ‘Whatever hurts my sister hurts me’”, she noted. “We learn to be sisters and to help…we learn how to live in civilization,” she said. Lee said with conviction, “If I was passed out, I wouldn’t want anyone to leave me there.” Lee was “shocked that people ran past someone lying helpless on the ground- she looked like she needed help.”
“They are a good team and they negotiated winning,” Sister Donna Jo Repetti, OSF, Benedictine Academy Director of Guidance commented. “They had to make a decision whether winning the race was more important than helping someone in great need,” she observed. “They realized that people are more important and valued, than winning a race,” she added.
Benedictine student Alyssia Hudson summed up her feelings about the whole event. “Yesterday was Ramira’s (Mayse) 15th birthday- she got to help somebody in need,” Hudson said. “It was our first instinct,” Mayse said. “It’s just how we were brought up.”
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