My Kind of Hero


I was puffing as I ran my third lap around the track, but I was determined to finish at least one more. My friend Jennifer had pulled ahead of me as usual, nearly half a lap ahead and still gaining. It didn’t bother me that she was faster. I admired her for it. I admired her for a lot of things.

We had been friends since fifth grade, and I remember that she struggled with math so much she had to get extra help. Now she was on the honor roll. Athletics were easier for her, but she had to work hard at that, too. That’s why we were running the track together. She needed the athletic conditioning; I needed the exercise.

It was hard not to like Jennifer; her outgoing personality made her cheerful and friendly. She seemed to have it all and do it all. Her life was an endless round of activities, all of them wholesome and productive.

I was busy, too. I always had more to do than time to do it in. In fact, I had to schedule my time very carefully. I thought about Jennifer’s schedule—which was busier than mine—and wondered how she accomplished all she did.

About then I noticed a younger red-haired girl standing by the track watching us. She was a handicapped student at our small school. I said a polite hello as I ran by her, but I couldn’t afford to slow my pace to say much more. She watched as I rounded the track.

Jennifer seemed to be behind me now, even though I knew she was already a lap ahead and about to pass me again soon. She would finish before me, I was sure, and move on to the other important activities she must have planned.

I looked ahead to the next turn and then looked back to see where Jennifer was. She had slowed to a snail’s pace, and the red-haired girl was holding her hand and running beside her. The busiest girl in school had time to help someone else, and I didn’t. I thought about the Savior as I watched the two of them running together.

I was the only onlooker. Only the Lord and I would ever know about that small kindness. Jennifer didn’t do it for recognition; it was just the way she was. That day she became my hero, not because of all the great things she was known for but because of that simple act of kindness when no one was around but me.

That was quite a while ago, and Jennifer is now taking time out from her busy life to serve a mission in the Philippines. I often wonder who she is helping now.

[illustration] Illustrated by Sam Lawlor