In their last race together before heading off to different schools in the fall, a group of British schoolboys wanted to make sure that one classmate went out with a winning feeling.
In a final field day race at Wrawby St Mary’s C of E Primary School in Lincolnshire, England, a group of 11-year-old boys linked arms so they would all finish behind classmate Rory Kettles, who has Down syndrome.
Michelle Drury, 35, whose son Rio helped come up with the idea, shot a video of a joyous Rory sprinting to victory while 11 of his classmates crossed the finish line tied for second.
"There wasn't a dry eye among the teachers or the parents,'' Drury told TODAY.
The idea to have Rory finish first in their final field day sprint together came from the students themselves.
"It was really, really emotional,'' Wrawby St Mary's headmaster Mariclare Potterton told TODAY. "We want them to grow up to have empathy and understanding, so we're just incredibly proud of the boys."
The group of boys had been together in school since they were 4 years old and are attending different middle schools in the fall.
"It was important to them to give Rory that memory,'' Drury said. "We really do have those strong British values where even though we're keen to win, these boys have had it instilled in them that we put other people first. Sometimes that's more important than winning."
Rory's mother did not see the race in person because she was at work. But she got emotional after seeing the video, Potterton said.
"She said the compassion and care shown to her son and how he's been treated the same by everyone else has made her incredibly proud and touched by the children's gesture,'' Potterton said.
In other races, even though he was fast enough to keep up, Rory often got distracted and reverted to watching his classmates.
This time, his classmates were the ones watching as he dashed across the finish line.
"We didn't know about it until just before the race,'' Potterton said. "The boys said, 'Rory is really important to us and we all care about him, so we want him to go out of the school a winner.'''
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