TODAY   |  October 13, 2012

Marine helps cancer survivor, 11, cross finish line

In a tale of heroism and heart, a Marine carried 11-year-old Ben Baltz across a race’s finish line when Baltz's prosthetic leg gave out. At first Baltz wouldn’t let the Marine help him. “He did not want a free ride,” the Marine said.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we've all heard stories of the heroism and heart of the u.s. marines . part of their motto is no man left behind. and one young cancer survivor experienced that brotherhood firsthand recently. the 11-year-old boy was running the last half of a kid's triathlon when his prosthetic leg gave way. moments later a u.s. marine jumped in with several of his comrades and carried ben across that finish line . ben , his parents and the marine who picked him up are all with us. good morning, everyone. thank you for joining us. you are the cutest thing that i've seen. you know that?

>> yeah.

>> yeah. and modest. i love this kid. you know, i have to say i've read the story, i've seen the video. it is amazing each time. you were right there and you're weight on your child to finish this race and you don't see him. you don't know what's happened. when did you realize hey, wait a minute, he's delayed here coming across this finish line ?

>> i was standing at the finish line waiting for him. he had just ran an 8:22 mile a couple weeks earlier, so i knew it shouldn't be too long. he just didn't show up and i had no idea what was happening on the course until the announcers said turn around, i want you to see what's happening. a physically challenged child had trouble and marine picked him up and is carrying him in. about that time i started crying.

>> you just started crying. private first class morgan, how did you get to the point where he's on your back?

>> well, there was a lot of marines out there, 22 to be exact. all day what we were doing is just looking out for the kids. picking up the kids who had scraped their knees or fallen off their bikes. but we just finished the bike portion and me and another marine were walking back, and we sat there and gave some encouragement, yelled at some of the kids. you know, go, go, go! and he came running up and we saw him. we were cheering. and all of a sudden he just fell down. so like every other kid that day, i ran over as fast as i could, and by the time i got to him, he was already on his foot and he was reattaching the prosthetic, or trying to. and when i asked him do you need help, he looked at me and said no, i'm going to finish the race. after a couple more moments, though, he figured out he wasn't going to be able to reattach it.

>> so whose idea was it for him to get on your back?

>> it was mine. he didn't want a free ride .

>> you were like i don't want a free ride , i want to finish this thing. and you got on there and finished. what did it feel like to hear those people cheering? when you look at that picture, you did it. felt good?

>> uh-huh.

>> i know you've got to be proud of this kid. he's amazing.

>> very proud of ben . since the day he's been amputated, he really hasn't ever given up.

>> and you made the decision -- he was fighting cancer. no decision any parent ever wants to make.

>> no, it's not. and that was the first thing that the doctor told us after his biopsy, is your son has cancer and we recommend amputation.

>> well, there you are. you finished this race there. are a lot of kids watching. i told you i think you've got the face of a disney star. so what do you tell the kids at home when they want to give up or they don't know how to keep going, what's your advice?

>> just keep trying.

>> just keep trying.

>> and that's what you did. and you finished. high five. i feel like i'm with a little hero. thank you. congratulations on raising such an amazing boy. of course, thank you for serving this country and your comrades who were there with us. give everybody a big hug. we're so proud of you. you are awesome. and by the way, he picked out the penguin on his prosthetic leg . we're going to treat you to a free trip to the zoo. i just volunteered the "today" show. i'll get lester's credit card , we'll pay for