Each fall for the past several years, Heidelberg athletic training students have served as medical volunteers at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. In addition to gaining valuable hands-on experience, this year’s group brought home a very special memory – and a medal.
“Something absolutely amazing” happened to sophomore Ashley Kessler, junior Genna Fusco and senior Erika Danver as they stood at their post, waiting for the runners to finish the race. One of the runners approached the trio just beyond the finish line, and according to Genna, the group was ready to step in to provide medical assistance.
“This time, that was not the case,” Genna said. “He emotionally explained that he had run the marathon in honor of his friend, William Caviness, who had passed away last year at the marathon, just 500 yards from the finish line.”
Caviness, a firefighter from North Carolina, was a husband and father. Erika and Genna were familiar with his story, having volunteered at the event last year. His friend, who had just completed the marathon, pulled out a beautiful medal and handed it to the girls, telling them, “I want you to have this and remember my friend around this time every year.”
“All of us had chills and our eyes were filled with tears,” Genna said. “There were 20,000 volunteers working the marathon and more than 45,000 runners, and he chose three Heidelberg students to give the medal to.”
After the experience, the students presented the medal to their professor, Trevor Bates, and shared the story with the entire group of 15 HU athletic training students and assistant professor Jessica Miller. That day, they learned as much about the human spirit as they did about athletic training.
“We were all humbled and amazed, and truly learned the value of service to others,” Genna said. “We will celebrate the memory of Mr. Caviness, his service as a firefighter and his life, as promised.”
The Athletic Training staff is planning to display the medal and the story in an appropriate place on campus.