Humble, kind Meghan Vogel wins “Do Right” award

“So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.” – Matthew 20:16

WINTERSVILLE – Some have character.

Some show character.

Meet Meghan Vogel.

She has it and showed it 54 weeks ago.

Vogel was dead last in the 3200 at the 2012 Ohio State Track and Field Championships at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

Why someone who could have contended for a state championship in the 3200 was in last place was simple – her legs were spent.

About an hour earlier Vogel, who recently graduated from West Liberty-Salem High School, set a personal best in winning the state title in the 1600 in 4:58.31.

“The idea was thrown out there, but I never thought about not running in the 3200,” Vogel said Monday night at St. Florian Hall, site of the 16th-annual Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame induction banquet.

“I don’t feel the state meet is the right place to drop an event because I would have taken another girl’s position. That’s not right. I wasn’t about to do that.

“Three laps into the race, my mom’s my coach, and she was sitting along the back stretch and I looked at her and shook my head and got it, she understood and she said, ‘OK, just finish.'”

Because she didn’t quit and chose to run, God opened a big door.

“He definitely did,” she said.

Vogel was on hand to accept the “Do Right” award.

Her selection was well deserved.

Vogel started the race and eventually drifted to a place where it is uncommon for her to run – dead last.

“I’ve never been in last,” she said matter-of-factly.

She is used to being chased, not doing the chasing.

Yet, there she was.

Not far in front of her was Arlington High School sophomore Arden McMath, who had the slowest qualifying time of the 15 competitors.

Heading down the home stretch, McMath fell and could not get up. She tried again, and still could not get up.

Instead of running by her, Vogel stopped, helped McMath up, put her arm around her and helped her to the finish line.

As the crowd at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium stood and the applause grew with each step by both athletes, Vogel allowed McMath to cross the line before her.

“People call me a hero and I don’t think I’m a hero at all,” she said. “I’m not a Gandhi or Harriet Tubman or anyone like that.

“I was just trying to do what’s right.”

The devout Catholic and soon-to-be Penn State student is still rather surprised the legs this story had.

How does 40 meters turn into a national story?

How does one kind act turn into videos on GodVine, GodTube, YouTube, an interview with Fox and Friends, an article on ESPN, articles and blogs from coast to coast and in the London Daily Mail.

“After it happened, a writer at our local newspaper sent me an e-mail and said, ‘I e-mailed this to ESPN, but I doubt it will get any attention,'” she said. “I said, ‘that’s fine, I don’t think it will get any attention, either.’

“But, it turns out it did. It’s definitely been a shock. It’s been fun, though. I have met a lot of extraordinary people through it.”

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23

“I definitely think that God put me in that position for a reason,” she said. “I’ve never been last in my career and that’s the one race where I was last.

“Maybe something like this can cause people to look at their own lives and say, ‘what am I doing to be nice to other people?’

So, how does one act of kindness receive this much attention?

“Not to be harsh, but maybe we’re lacking a little bit,” Vogel said. “I don’t think what I did was that big of a deal. There are people who do greater things than what I did all the time and don’t get any recognition for it. I think we need to shed more light on positive things in the world. I am not saying what I did should garner such attention, but we can’t just focus on the battles. We have to uplift the world.

“I just know it was the right thing to do. I go to a cross country camp every summer and the coaches motto is, ‘Always do what’s right, not what’s easiest.’

“I wasn’t going to run by her, so I stopped and helped her. I knew any of the girls on that track would do the same for me. Us distance runners in Ohio, we’re definitely a close-knit group because we run against each other all the time.”

This year Vogel finished third in the 1600 (5:00.28) and 11th in the 800.

“We found out a month before the state meet that I had mono,” she remarked. “We were really torn with the idea of what I was going to run.

“To find out I had mono was kind of interesting because I had it for about three weeks before I was diagnosed. It was not fun. When we found out, it’s not like I could take any time off.

“I took two days off and then I took Sundays off from running.

“I was praying that it would get out of my system in time. My parents (Jason and Ann) and teammates were great because they were being encouraging all the time.

“I kept the faith and I finished and that’s all I could ask for.”

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” – 2 Timothy 4:7