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To Track Down My Dream

To Track Down My Dream

It was the district track meet - the one we had been training for all season. My foot still hadn't healed from an earlier injury. As a matter of fact, I had debated whether or not I should attend the meet. But there I was, preparing for the 3,200-meter run.

"Ready...set..." The gun popped and we were off. The other girls darted ahead of me. I realized I was limping and felt humiliated as I fell farther and farther behind.

The first-place runner was two laps ahead of me when she crossed the finish line. "Hooray!" shouted the crowd. It was the loudest cheer I had ever heard at a meet.

"Maybe I should quit," I thought as I limped on.

"Those people don't want to wait for me to finish this race." Somehow, though, I decided to keep going. During the last two laps, I ran in pain and decided not to compete in track next year. It wouldn't be worth it, even if my foot did heal. I could never beat the girl who lapped me twice.

When I finished, I heard a cheer - just as enthusiastic as the one I'd heard when the first girl passed the finish line. "What was that all about?" I asked myself. I turned around and sure enough, the boys were preparing for their race. "That must be it; they're cheering for the boys."

I went straight to the bathroom where a girl bumped into me. "Wow, you've got courage!" she told me.

I thought, "Courage? She must be mistaking me for someone else. I just lost a race!"

"I would have never been able to finish those two miles if I were you. I would have quit on the first lap. What happened to your foot? We were cheering for you. Did you hear us?"

I couldn't believe it. A complete stranger had been cheering for me - not because she wanted me to win, but because she wanted me to keep going and not give up. Suddenly I regained hope. I decided to stick with track next year. One girl saved my dream.

That day I learned two things:

First, a little kindness and confidence in people can make a great difference to them.

And second, strength and courage aren't always measured in medals and victories. They are measured in the struggles we overcome. The strongest people are not always the people who win, but the people who don't give up when they lose.

I only dream that someday - perhaps as a senior - I will be able to win the race with a cheer as big as the one I got when I lost the race as a freshman.

By Ashley Hodgeson

from Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul
Copyright 1997 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Kimberly Kirberger

This story courtesy of

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