Asia Ford finished last in a Louisville, Kentucky 10K run, but photos of a city police officer holding her hand for miles, and helping her cross the finish line, are winning the hearts of people across the world.
More than halfway into the race, Ford had trouble breathing. Paramedics checked her out, but she refused to stop. The mother of three had lost over 200 pounds and trained for months preparing for the race. She wanted to inspire her children, and so insisted on finishing the run.
That’s when Lt. Aubrey Gregory of the Louisville Metro Police Department stepped in and took her hand.
”He was like my angel,” Ford told WAVE-TV. “He came at the moment I really needed him.”
Lt. Gregory stayed with Ford every moment of the last two miles to the finish line. He told WHAS-TV her determination gave him “tingly goosebumps all over.” He said, ”Watching her cross the finish line, I felt it all over. It was a great moment and I’m glad she let me be a part of it.”
Within hours, thousands more would experience the triumphant moment—when Ford raised her arms in victory as she, her son and Lt. Gregory crossed the finish line.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer tweeted the pictures online. Daniel Carlton, Jr., who snapped the photo above, got tens of thousands of “likes” after he put it on Facebook.
Ford told WHAS-TV she struggled with her weight for years, reaching nearly 500 pounds. Her husband at the time lost a limb to diabetes. She didn’t want her kids to wind up with health problems like theirs. She started working out, losing weight and getting in better shape to inspire them.
Two days after the run, the city of Louisville is honoring Mrs. Ford and Lt. Gregory at city hall for inspiring people around the world.
Ford summed it up with her own words of inspiration in a Facebook post after the race: ”This 6.2 miles meant more to me than any race ever, so my message today is, You don’t have to be 1st, AS LONG AS U DON’T GIVE UP AND U FINISH…YOU ARE A WINNER.”