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The Winner... Who Always Finished Last?!

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
September 14, 2022 3:00 am

The Winner... Who Always Finished Last?!

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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September 14, 2022 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Saje Hellstern was the fastest on his cross-country team and always finished in the top. After a tumor was found in his brain, he endured over a year of radiation and chemo. But, that didn't stop him from running and finishing his races. Here to share his story is his stepfather, Roger.

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This is Lee Habib, and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people.

Up next, we have another listener story sent to us from Roger Wrench in Iowa. Today, Roger is sharing a story about his stepson, Sage, called The Winner Who Always Finished Last. This is the story of the kid who finished last every time. He ran in the slowest heat with the slowest runners, and he was the slowest of the slow, often coming in several seconds behind the other runners. For three years in track meet after track meet after track meet, he finished last.

It had not always been so. In seventh grade, he was the fastest kid on his cross country team and competed with the best runners from the other schools. In his last meet, he finished 12th out of 169 runners, and the other 11 ahead of him were all a year older in eighth grade. He loved running and looked forward to getting better and faster.

Then tragedy struck. A tumor was found in the back of his brain. This, after a lifelong genetic disease, had limited his physical activity his whole life.

Running was the first athletic thing he was able to do, and now that was being taken away. He endured a year and a half of radiation and chemo. Because of his rare disease, sometimes the doctors weren't sure how to treat him.

There were difficult days, including 17 in a row where he was unconscious for most of it over the Christmas holiday. The tumor was removed quickly after being discovered. He made it through treatment and many months of physical therapy. For four years now, he's been in remission. But cancer left its mark. His radiation and chemo treatments stole much of his physical strength, balance, speed, and endurance.

That seventh grade flyer is long gone. But he ran anyway. He joined his track team and competed as hard as he could. He ran his best every race and improved his personal best time. He cheered on his teammates and inspired them every time he ran. Though the clock said he came in last again and again, those who know him would tell you a much different story. So when his mom and I walked Sage out onto the track on senior night, we couldn't have been prouder.

In the bulletin noting his plans after high school graduation were these words of his own. In this life, you will experience hardship and tribulation. But don't let those life-altering experiences define you as a person. Write your own story. Defy the odds.

Sage Helster. Real winners are not the ones with the fastest times. They're the ones who keep running and always give their best. They never give up.

They take their tests and make it their testimony. They turn their tragedies into triumph. They inspire others to make the most of what they have. They believe there is purpose in all of life's challenges.

And they do their best while cheering others on to greatness. The clock may tell one story, but their lives tell another. This is the story of a runner who could have quit when tragedy struck and never set foot on a track again. Instead, he laced up his shoes and endured the humiliation of finishing last every time because he loved to run and inspire others. Sometimes he wonders what could have been. What if he never got cancer? How fast would he be able to run?

Could he have won some medals and gone to state? Those questions will always linger in his head. But he gave us all with what he had.

That's all any of us can do. Sage has developed other skills in life that he's working on, things like music. He taught himself to play guitar and recorded some of his own songs. He even performed them before his peers. He's worked extremely hard to develop that talent with years of hard work. And he knows that probably wouldn't have happened if it weren't for cancer.

His attitude, faith, and trust in God's purpose for his life has grown by leaps and bounds. And he's still running as fast as his remaining strength and endurance will take him. Clocks don't determine the winners.

People do by the way they choose to live. They're the ones who keep running and never give up, no matter what obstacles they face or what life throws at them. Sage will keep running his race. Let's all follow his example and run our race with perseverance. Let's keep doing our best every day.

Forget about everyone else and stay focused on improving ourselves and getting better each day. Let's take what we've been given and make the most of it. To all the winners who never finish first, Roger. And a special thanks to Madison for her work on the production of that piece. And a special thanks to Roger Rensch in Iowa, a listener and a contributor. Thanks also to Sage for providing his example.

Write your own story, Sage said. Defy the odds. And Roger put it right. Clocks don't determine winners.

People do. And Sage will keep running his race. And that's what we all have to do in the end folks. We have to keep running our race. My favorite quote on all of this comes from one of my heroes, John Wooden, who said about success. Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.

And Sage's life is a living soul. Sage's story, so many of us running our own race, maybe not getting the blue ribbon or running anyway and running for the joy of it. This is Our American Stories. Here at Our American Stories, we bring you inspiring stories of history, sports, business, faith, and love. Stories from a great and beautiful country that need to be told.

But we can't do it without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love our stories in America like we do, please go to our American stories.com and click the donate button. Give a little, give a lot. Help us keep the great American stories coming. That's our American stories.com.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-17 19:48:35 / 2023-02-17 19:51:28 / 3

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