ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Massachusetts woman's Facebook post about the kindness of an Alaska stranger following the Boston Marathon explosions has gone viral.
Runner Laura Wellington was nearing the end of the 26-mile race Monday when the two blasts went off near the finish line, where she was planning to meet her family. Police diverted the 25-year-old Wellington from the finish, and she ended up walking along a nearby street as she called her boyfriend on her cellphone and learned her family was OK.
It was then that a couple walked by, KTUU-TV reported (http://is.gd/jkvFj4 ).
"The woman took the space tent off her husband, who had finished the marathon, and wrapped it around me," Wellington wrote on her Facebook page. "She asked me if I was okay, if I knew where my family was. I reassured her I knew where they were and I would be OK."
The husband asked Wellington if she had finished the race. Wellington nodded her head "no."
"He then proceeded to take the medal off from around his neck and placed it around mine. He told me 'you are a finisher in my eyes.' I was barely able to choke out a 'thank you' between tears,'" Wellington wrote on her Facebook page.
She ended the post with a plea to have others find the couple.
"Odds are I will never see this couple again, but I'm reaching out with the slim chance that I will be able to express to them just what this gesture means to me," Wellington wrote. "I was so in need of a familiar face at that point in time. This couple reassured me that even though such a terrible thing had happened, everything was going to be OK."
People online helped Wellington find the man who gave her his medal: Sitka, Alaska, resident Brent Cunningham. He and Wellington, of Cambridge, Mass., have since been in contact, the Toronto Star reported.
Cunningham had traveled to Boston with his wife and daughter after months of training to fulfill his lifelong dream of running the Boston Marathon.
He told KTUU-TV in Anchorage that he heard the blasts only five minutes after he finished the race. With his family safe, he was looking to get back to his hotel, and that's when he saw Wellington sitting on a bench and reached out to her.
Cunningham described taking off his medal and giving it to the teary-eyed woman. Under marathon rules, only those who cross the finish line can collect a medal, the Star reported.
"I just wanted to let her know she was amazing. I said, 'You're a finisher in my eyes.' That was that," Cunningham told the newspaper. "She was so emotional she couldn't talk. And I've been emotional about it at least five times since then."
Three people were killed and more than 170 were injured when the bombs exploded Monday. Cunningham said sharing his medal with Wellington was just his way to care for someone amid so much anguish.
"I didn't know the families who went through the great trauma they've been through, but I guess it's just a great reminder to know where you're at today; you can love someone in your own world," he told KTUU-TV.
Wellington's Facebook post has gone viral. As of Thursday evening, more than 195,000 people had shared it.