Cazenovia cross country runner stops race to help competitor with visual impairment

Jake Tobin (left) helps Luke Fortner (center), who has a visual impairment, run up a hill after that runner fell (Courtesy: Karen Krause Wylie).

A Cazenovia High School cross country runner put competition aside during a race last week, and helped a runner with vision impairment, who passed him and slipped trying to get up a hill.

Photos posted to Cazenovia Central School District’s page on Facebook show the moment where sophomore Jake Tobin chose to help Luke Fortner from Fairport High School, when Tobin could’ve decided to keep going.

“(Tobin) was running towards the finish when a Fairport team member passed him,” wrote Karen Kraus Wylie in the Facebook post. “Your XC (cross country) team member did not only cheer and clap for him as the student tried to run up the hill in front of him, but stopped and helped him to his feet when he slipped.”

"And together we just carried him up the hill and then he ran he beat me by 5 seconds or something,” Tobin said.

Since then Jake has received a lot of attention for his act of kindness.

Results from the race show Fortner beat Tobin by two seconds.

Tobin's story is now appearing in the New York Times and Washington Post. CNYCentral spoke to Tobin Wednesday afternoon and he told us he doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. He said he did what anybody would've done in that situation.

"I still dont understand why everyone is making a big deal out of this. I felt like it was something that should be done and just do it,” Tobin said.

Jake's mother, Meg, said she is not surprised at what her son did.

“So proud of my son. It is a value in our family to lift people up and my son literally helped lift somebody up,” Meg Tobin said.

For Jake's cross country coach, he said this speaks volumes about the kind of runners on the Cazenovia Cross Country Team.

"You know I am just so happy I really am. It makes smile and I get to see the character of these guys on display daily," Coach Jason Hyatt said.

"If I'm winning a race and all of a sudden I look to the left and I see somebody struggling, and I don't do anything about that, that's not winning," Tobin added.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off