Friday, October 12, 2012
Ben's story: Going the extra mile


Thanks to iReporter Joel David Hinrichs, CNN has obtained additional photos of Ben Baltz, the 11-year-old boy who won the hearts of the internet this week.


This past Sunday, Ben took part in Florida's Sea Turtle Tri Kids triathlon. Not the typical athlete, Ben lost his right leg to bone cancer at the tender age of six, having his fibula and tibia removed. He now uses a mechanical knee and prosthetic leg to help him walk.


Ben had already swam 150 yards, biked 4 miles and had powered halfway through his one-mile run when a screw came loose and his running leg broke in half.


Meanwhile, Kim Baltz waited at the finish line wondering why her son hadn’t crossed yet.


“It was only a mile, I knew he was tired, I was like, ‘Where is he, where is he, where is he?’" she told CNN iReport.


But before further worry set in, she heard the announcer tell the crowd to turn around and look at what was happening on the course. What followed was a heartwarming display that she'll never forget.



Matthew Morgan, Private First Class at Marine Detachment Corry Station, took notice when Ben's leg broke and carried him on his back for the remainder of the one-mile stretch, accompanied by his fellow Marines.


The photos of the Marines were taken by Ben Kruggel and soon after he shared them with iReport, the story went viral –- gaining more than 225,000 views and getting reposted on sites like BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, and The Daily Mail, among countless others. Ben and Private Morgan were also featured on HLN’s Evening Express.


But the story didn't stop there. iReporter Joel David, who attended the event to support his 9-year-old sister, sent in additional photos of Ben competing in the race before his prosthetic leg broke.


"I photographed several other children, but there was something inspiring about Ben that caused me to focus on him," David said. "He had an inspiring look of determination and I wanted to capture that emotion in a photo."



As Ben and the Marines crossed the finish line, spectators at the event were brought to tears, cheering and pouring out support.


That support has continued to spread across the web, and his mom couldn't be happier to share his story with the world.


“We want to give him the message that he can do anything, and he has an inspirational story, and he just needs to be thankful that he is able to do it because there are a lot of kids out there that are still fighting cancer,” Kim said. “We just want him to get out there and participate in life.”


Thanks to iReporters Joel David Hinrichs and Ben Kruggel for sharing this story with CNN. If you have an inspirational story to tell, upload it to iReport.

October 12, 2012
Click to view E5Aviation's profile

Awesome! An expert example of why our troop deserve better than "force reduction" and benefit discontinuations.

We don't pay these folks enough.

October 12, 2012
Click to view Collector128's profile

Semper Fi Marines!   Outstanding!

Just another example of honor and valor at work.

And Ben? Sounds to me like this young man has his head screwed on straight and knows already what hard work and determination are.  Well done Ben and I look forward to reading more of your accomplishments in the years to come.  I'm sure we will be hearing more of this young man.

October 12, 2012
Click to view reconmarine7's profile

This is the true American spirit, a young determined Ben and the Marines always willing to lend a helping hand.  This was once the way ALL of America was.  We aren't any more.


October 12, 2012
Click to view usafsmsgt's profile

Good on you Marine!  And good on you young man for not giving up, you have no reason to feel upset that you did not finish under your own power, YOU DID, it was the poser and spirit that you provided that sparked something in the Marines to help you, that special something that brought the crowd to tears and cheers.  As a USAF guy I can tell you that seeing a young man or woman with challenges giving it their all inspire me to make myself better and worthy of serving our country.   To coin a phrase that was used when I was at a Joint Service organization ---Aim High, With Flowing Seas, To Be All That YOU Can Be, Semper Fi!  (Older servie mottos).  Carry on Young Man, Carry On!

October 12, 2012
Click to view Martoon's profile

You Marines make me proud to be an American!  Men of fine character, courage and honor...

October 12, 2012
Click to view canadacarguy's profile

That's great support I'm touched and proud of the US Armed Forces - As Canadians we are still brothers

October 12, 2012
Click to view sgt83's profile

Semper Fi young Marine, you've got what it takes.

October 12, 2012
Click to view Texaskidd's profile

Without a doubt, were it not for Ben Baltz's handicap, Ben too would have made an excellent Marine. I do believe our Marines saw that from the start and helped him out no differently than they would have helped out another downed Marine. Go Ben and become the same excellent man as those that helped you this day. All these young men make me proud to be an American!

October 12, 2012
Click to view ajwills's profile

I am moved to tears - by the determination of the young man and the support he received from the Marines. What a beautiful story.

October 12, 2012
Click to view RussHeim's profile

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Golf, Marine! Same to you, Ben!

October 12, 2012
Click to view esperz's profile

Good job.  Makes me a little more alive on the inside when I know there are still people who still give a shit.

October 12, 2012
Click to view CDRBogan's profile

To all Americans!!!  Remember this story about Ben and the Marines.  There are only 1% of us that have served this country and these young marines have kept the faith and have demostrated that they care about you as well.  Just like Ben in his time of need, they were there to give a helping hand.

October 12, 2012

Some motivated devil dogs on the job! Gotta love it.

October 12, 2012
Click to view viksteele's profile

Bravo!  Love It!!  I think any of us in here would do the same, yes?  Maybe this is what the phrase 'It takes a village' means.

October 12, 2012
Click to view setconstr's profile

I am Crying Right Now !

October 12, 2012
Click to view MDKen57's profile

What a wonderful heart warming story! WTG BEN!!! It is ashame that E5viation had to make a political statememt. Politics and bravery should never be seen together. Please never compare a politican to a hero, there is no comparison EViation EVER!

October 12, 2012
Click to view Dusty2701's profile

Semper Fi, Marines and Ben.  We never leave anyone behind! (SGT 68-72).

October 12, 2012
Click to view dontdonothin's profile

Semper Fi

October 12, 2012
Click to view E5Aviation's profile




October 12, 2012
Click to view jimdog33's profile

Finally, a feelgood story and the appropriate comments from readers to go with it.  Doesn't happen often, unfortunately.

October 12, 2012
Click to view clector's profile

Let's blame Obama

October 12, 2012
Click to view skygodess's profile

why can't people like THIS run for congress !! I am talking about both Ben and the Marines. This is the "spirit" we need to led the nation, NOT what we have in there right now.

October 12, 2012
Click to view raynardo's profile



October 12, 2012
Click to view sharky66's profile

Ok I wasn't even there and just reading this makes me cry.


So wonderful!!!

October 12, 2012
Click to view usmcwife4lif's profile

What a wonderful story! I am beyond proud of Ben and our Marines! I have the honor of being married to a Devil Dog myself, and there are no finer men than the U.S. Marines! Semper Fidelis - YAT YAS!

October 12, 2012
Click to view Lisaspups's profile

God bless our men and women in uniform.  And, for you, Ben, my heartfelt admiration.  And, for you, young Ben, you are an inspiration to us all, young and old alike.

October 12, 2012
Click to view prsantana's profile

My late grandfather told me once: "What would life be if we didn't have the valor to try something, anything?" And that is exactly what we can see here! Ben, what you have done by competing in such a strenuous competition goes beyond what you thought you'd do. This will allow others to go out there and try things without worrying on how they will do. As far as the Marines, OORAH!!!! This is exactly why I am so proud of been an American!! Soldiers that go beyond their calling, duties, and responsibilities. God bless you all!!

October 12, 2012
Click to view LiberalNewz2's profile

Awesome story!

October 12, 2012
Click to view pauleky's profile

@Clector: "Let's blame Obama." Yeah, let's vote for Romney and guarantee these young men and veterans of all wars don't get the assitance they need. These guy are part of the 47% Romney dismisses. Too bad our media has failed us, over and over again. Vote GOP and, unless you're wealthy, you're hurting those in the military, the poor and the middle class. Simple as that. Obama's not great shakes, but Romney would be a complete disaster.

October 12, 2012
Click to view WillH85's profile

Well I feel a bit better about humanity after reading this.  People that hate on our troops and call them killers should look at this.  For the most part they're good hearted people that want to serve and help others, like this.  Both the Marines here and Ben are inspirations. 

October 12, 2012
Click to view truedeal56's profile

Nice thing my only thing is the guy on the left the dark guy looks a tad bit overweight glad he's running.

October 12, 2012
Click to view dc148's profile

I am touched by the courage of Ben and proud to be a Marine. Semper Fi.

October 12, 2012
Click to view mtnldy's profile

Those terrific marines obviously recognized in Ben a kindred spirit.  Hoorah!

October 12, 2012
Click to view bdh1973's profile

This is the kind of story that I love to see. It reminds me of the Hollies song "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother"


But I'm strong

Strong enough to carry him

He ain't heavy, he's my brother

So on we go


You keep on going young Ben, we are very proud of you. And thank you to this wonderful young Marine for carrying his "brother" and to the other Marines for cheering them on.  God Bless each of you ~ you certainly are an inspiration.





October 13, 2012
Click to view ouch1945's profile

God bless the United States Marines!!!

October 13, 2012
Click to view 123wills's profile

............after reading the article i was on my tear.......i salute the marines and the boy who passed all the hurdles of  life,,,,,,,,,,,,god bless you


October 13, 2012
Click to view paspoon47's profile

Way to go Marines! Way to go Ben! You are thew best of the best. As the Roman historian Ovid said, "Fortes Fortuna Adiuvat" - Fortune favors the brave.

October 13, 2012
Click to view AlKP's profile

Prime example of how this great country stands on the shoulders of our Armed Forces. Extraordinary!

October 13, 2012
Click to view SealLeader's profile

I think it safe to say that the Marines get it and so does Ben.  Character runs deep in this group!

October 13, 2012
Click to view NJLawman's profile

CNN, please put this as your main front page story.


This is by far the best and most inspirational story I have read in months.


Amazing job to these young marines and the young lad as well.


And great job to CNN for this story.

October 13, 2012
Click to view semperfit's profile

All our servicemen are great!  However, this is why I joined the marines many moons ago......always doing the "heavy lifting", make us ALL proud....thank you!

October 13, 2012
Click to view Forreal89's profile


October 13, 2012
Click to view Johnusmc's profile

Semper Fi, God Bless Ben and the Marine Corps!!

October 13, 2012
Click to view FifthGenera's profile

These photographs tell a wonderful story; a story that our men and women who Serve can be proud of. As well as a very, very special young man. I trust his future will be as wonderful.

October 13, 2012
Click to view usmc70142's profile

I think Ben is more abled than 99.999% of his peers and would make a fine Marine if he chooses.  That kid has some heart.  Semper Fi, young warrior.

October 13, 2012
Click to view lchin's profile

Selfless devotion to serve and protect those who can't.  Outstanding job Marines.  The Corps is proud of you warriors, warriors to the core.

October 14, 2012
Click to view jimmerz's profile

go marines! 

October 14, 2012
Click to view TheDarkElf's profile

Esprit de corps, Marines are not just warrior for blood. They are America's heros for the heart as well. Motivated Hoorah!!!!

October 14, 2012
Click to view MikeGCNY's profile

BOO YAH!  Incredible kid and ordinary Marines.  Always faithful, taking care of business both at home and abroad.  I always wanted to enlist, but some medical reasons prevented me.  Support the troops because they support us without us asking, and never ask for anything in return.

October 14, 2012
Click to view PhilG's profile

Simply very cool.


I am sure Ben would have wanted to finish on his own and he will,on a better built leg,next time.


Kudos to the Marines who helped him.



October 14, 2012
Click to view RasAlGaul's profile

This is what we are about !

October 14, 2012
Click to view Capybara91's profile

Since 1775, the Marines have been there when we need them. Marine Corps, hard-core. Hope they kept those cadences G-rated.

October 14, 2012
Click to view Rondoe's profile

It is moments like this that renews ones faith that their are Americans still out there that don't put making a buck, or asking, "What's in it for me" before they take action to extend a hand up to another human being... way to go Marine!!

Semper Fi.

October 14, 2012
Click to view Beechwood1's profile

This was truly great. Marines are the best in our society.


BUT this should in no way be interpretted that we should

support more WAR just because marines are great. It a huge waste of life, of "America's Finest" to continue theses bad usells wars.


October 14, 2012
Click to view olpink's profile

I say we make Ben an honorary Marine. Semper Fi gents!!

October 14, 2012
Click to view Mugsythecat's profile

What beautiful souls that met in the most unexpected way. Ben, I know your mother has no words to describe how very proud she is of you, and of Matthew for stepping in to help you finish your journey. I can't imagine how she felt watching Matthew carrying Ben across the finish line. What an incredible mom who raised such a determined young man. PFC Matthew Morgan, you are an angel disguised as a marine, so proud to know there are still good decent people like you in this world. Ben, you have proven that even though there was tragedy first, there are great things waiting in the future. I hope this was just the beginning of a lifetime friendship for you both.

October 14, 2012
Click to view wvjmarine's profile

Way to go Marines. 

When the rest of the country follows the Millitary's lead and realizes we can all live and work together we will be better off. 


I had a High School friend that became a Marine and was killed in Vietnam in 1967.  After Obama was elected, his friends and family (along with all minorities with a service member)can say his death was not in vain.  In America anyone can become President. 


Eliminate race from the equation.  I've taught my kids to us the Will Rogers approach.  He said he never met a person he didn't like.  I used the same approach, assume you will like someone when you meet them, it may take one second afterwards to dislike them.  The key is to approach everyone as an individual first and not a Catagory.


Notice the picture from the event.  Those were GREEN Americans, not race, rising to the occasion.


From a 1967 Geezer Marine, Semper Fi Marines.  Keep up the good work Marines and all Servicves. 

October 14, 2012
Click to view TimbreTim's profile

Go Ben, and way to go Marines!

October 14, 2012
Click to view USMC70's profile

As a former Marine Infantry Officer, I can tell you Marines help those who help themselves and support winners.  This young man fully qualifies under both categories!  Semper Fi!

October 14, 2012
Click to view haloguy628's profile

Never leave a man behind!

October 14, 2012
Click to view Mwilson211's profile

My son (who looks a LOT like the big redheaded guy on the right) is at Corry Station right now, a Navy Seaman, and he posted this story on FB for us here in California.  This is the sort of thing he too, would do.  So proud of our people in uniform!!!! 

October 14, 2012
Click to view phorton's profile

True Marine Spirit Semper Fi Devil Dogs!

October 15, 2012
Click to view hewhoseeks's profile

The true American spirit....never give up, and help your buddy if he's down.


That's what has kept America so healthy for so long.


And that is what will see America through the tough times.


Salute to all our blessed service men and women, and to Ben and all the kids like him.


You are an inspiration.

October 15, 2012
Click to view ckbabs's profile

This brought tears to my eyes! What a tremendous story. The determination of this young boy is inspiring.  And the compassion of our Marines.... SEMPER FI!

October 15, 2012
Click to view jason22's profile

That's cheating, isn't it?

October 15, 2012
Click to view Bizawiz's profile

So why does Paul Ryan want to cut benefits for military families to pay for tax breaks for millionaires? 

October 15, 2012
Click to view jayredjr's profile

Great story and act of selflessness by these fellow Marines to assist Ben Baltz

October 15, 2012
Click to view nav's profile

More than Marines the kid is cool, I am sure he will our run many competitors in future events.


@E5Aviation - True rather than paying Defence Contractors right?

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October 26, 2013
Click to view TWH4's profile

For anyone who might come back to look at this story, The race was held again this year, and Ben made it to the finish line with no problem! It was good to see him on the podium!

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