You Write It Contest Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our You Write It Contest in the September 24, 2012, issue. We couldn’t have written these articles better ourselves!

Click here to read the You Write It interview that inspired these articles.

Check out the winning entries below:

Compassionate Competition

Nicholas A.
Montréal, Québec, Canada

Young heroes these days are hard to find, yet we found one in West Liberty, Ohio. In June, star runner Meghan Vogel, 18, took part in a state championship track meet that ended up being the race of her life. Having won the one-mile race earlier, she was about to begin the two-mile race. She was extremely tired from her previous race and she just wanted to finish what she had started. Yet on the last lap, Meghan was surprised when an opponent, who she later learned was named Arden McMath, stumbled in front of her and was unable to continue the race. She knew she couldn’t just leave her there, as she was not in a position to finish the race. Meghan immediately came to the rescue, without hesitation, helping Arden cross the finish line and instantaneously becoming a hero as well as an inspiration to all, even though she had finished last. After the race had finished, the opponent’s coaches and many reporters rushed up to talk to her. She describes the event as “pretty overwhelming.”

She later stated that her decision was also based on her position, as she was among the last runners. Yet, part of her believes that she would have made the same decision if she had been leading the race. Regardless of having been criticized by some for her decision, she is extremely proud of her choice, as she’s convinced she did the right thing. Therefore, she hopes that her decision to stop and help a fellow runner in need will persuade other people to help one another instead of bullying each other and bringing people down. I hope this story will inspire others to do the same. Whether you like her or dislike her, you must give Meghan Vogel credit for putting her opponent’s needs in front of her own despite not even knowing her opponent.

Rosie B.
Hartland, WI

Teen runner Meghan Vogel intentionally tied for last place in the Ohio state championship track meet in June.

Coming off of a victory in the one-mile race earlier in the meet, a tired Vogel found herself in the back of the pack in the two-mile race. However, she was not the only fatigued athlete on the track. During the last lap of the race, Vogel witnessed another competitor stumble and proceed to fall.

Without a second thought, Vogel helped her opponent up. They continued towards the finish line together. When they reached the finish, Vogel was immediately thanked for her compassion by the girl’s coaches.

Her compassion sparked news and soon her story was being told nationwide. The sportsmanship she showed towards a complete stranger gained her credit as being close to a hero.

Vogel says, “People almost took too much from it, like I’m this hero. I’m not. There are people saving starving children in Africa. There are people serving our country. I’m just a kid who helped another kid.”

Though many people were appreciative of her selflessness, she did gain a few critics. People have spoken out saying that she wasn’t competitive enough. Vogel says she brushes off the negativity and prefers to focus on the fact that she did the right thing. She considers herself a competitive person, but, as she says, “competitiveness only lasts so long,” whereas compassion lasts a lifetime.

Vogel hopes that her act of compassion inspires others to help people up instead of bringing them down.

Sharon L.
Holmdel, NJ

When most people think of competition, there is a vision of perspiration and hard work, possibly cumulating in a moment of victory. Competitions are not places where you will find acts of compassion, mainly because the fire that burns inside competitors and the desire to prove their supremacy over opponents overpower the instinct to help others. The most primitive parts of human nature place our own well-being before those of our peers, and yet there are still moments when compassion prevails. This is the case with Meghan Vogel.

Humans tend to live with a dual nature, between an egocentric desire to do what is best for themselves and an empathetic feeling for others. When asked whether she would have done the same thing if she was in the lead, Meghan said, “I don’t know—part of me thinks I would, part of me isn’t sure.”

When people are involved in a high stakes competition—such as a race—there are certainly moments when nothing matters more than reaching the finish line before anyone else. Had Vogel been in front, it is certainly possible that she would have ignored the fallen girl and continued. As circumstances stand, though, she recalls, “When I saw her fall, I realized I’d need to pick her up. That was my initial reaction. I didn’t think twice.” Perhaps it was the intuition that continuing would have done nothing for her that caused her to stop. Maybe it was knowledge that if she couldn’t help her team win points, the most she could do was help a fellow runner from complete humiliation.

Not all people are selfish, just as not all people do the right deeds at the right time. As long as humans have a choice between right and wrong, there’s going to be an ultimate duality in our ethics. While the media may scorn Vogel for not being competitive enough to cross the finish line herself, there will always be supporters rooting for her good deed. As much as psychologists like to analyze situations such as Vogel’s miraculous act of kindness, it stands that human nature is far too capricious. There will always be times when violence breaks in the midst of competition, just as there will be times for girls like Meghan Vogel, who help others despite the rivalry. It’s up to us as individuals to decide whether compassion can exist in our hearts in the midst of competition.


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