EAST LIVERPOOL Finishing in last place doesn't usually garner the type of attention Meghan Vogel has received since she ran in the 3,200-meter race at last year's state track meet, but the touching act of humanity she performed during that contest has earned the West Liberty, Ohio, teen the Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame 2013 "Do Right" Award.
With about 100 meters left, Vogel who less than one hour before ran her personal best of 4:58:31 to win the 1,600-meter race found herself in the unusual position of bringing up the rear. She was exhausted but determined to finish.
Just then she saw competitor Arden McMath of Arlington High School in Findlay stagger and fall about 50 meters ahead of her. Following her instincts, Vogel picked up McMath and helped her across the finish line, making sure to have McMath cross ahead of her, just as she was ahead of her when she fell.
Her compassion brought the crowd at Jesse Owens Stadium in Columbus to a standing ovation, and although making physical contact with a fellow athlete normally would be grounds for disqualification, officials took into consideration the unusual circumstances and did not penalize either runner. Videos of Vogel helping McMath, who suffered dehydration and leg cramps, across the finish line went viral on the internet, and Vogel was interviewed on television stations across the United States and Canada.
Vogel, the daughter of Jason and Ann Vogel, will receive her award at the Hall of Fame induction banquet Monday, June 24, at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville. Tickets may be purchased at the Hall of Fame.
One of the most inspiring quotes attributed to Coach Holtz is, "Do Right. Do the best you can," and "Treat others the way you want to be treated." In fact, the wristbands given as souvenirs to school students on Hall of Fame field trips bear the reminder to "Do Right."
"It's rare to find examples of folks who do the right thing for the simple sake of doing so. These are usually people to whom it would never occur to do anything else," said Hall of Fame Director Robin Webster. "It isn't always the easiest course of action but it is often the most rewarding and always sets an example for others."
The first "Do Right" Award was presented to Detroit Tigers' pitcher Armando Galarraga, who amazed fans with his cool-headed reaction to the June 2, 2010, catastrophic umpire error that cost him the honor of claiming baseball's 21st "perfect game." He simply walked back to the mound and completed the game, striking out the next batter. When the tearful umpire directly apologized to Galarraga after the game, the pitcher's response was to offer a hug and comment, "Nobody's perfect."
The 2012 award went to Rob and Karrin Campf, owners of the Forever Safe Farm animal sanctuary in Salem, Ohio.
Webster said the Hall of Fame looks forward to continuing the presentation of the "Do Right" Award. The winner may be local or global but will be selected based on his or her outstanding example of how to do the right thing in a given situation. Winners will be chosen by the Hall of Fame, but nominations are welcome from the general public by those who become aware of outstanding examples. Suggestions should take the form of e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org and should include a phone number for verification purposes.