Beyond The Running Glory Series: The Story Of Glenn Cunningham
Glenn Cunningham was one of the greatest milers of his time. He held world records in the 800 meters and the mile during his era in the 1930s. Cunningham’s overcoming nature and life after sport set him apart in the annals of history.
As a boy growing up, I was fascinated by Cunningham’s story. I was not just impressed with his world record runs. I was impressed with Cunningham’s other contributions in life. Born and raised in Kansas, Cunningham was severely burned during an explosion that accidentally killed his brother.
The doctors recommended the amputation of Cunningham’s legs because he lost all the flesh on his knees and shins and all the toes on his left foot. Part of his arch in his foot was also partially destroyed. The doctors of his day also predicted that Glenn would never walk again. His parents, though, would not allow amputation due to Cunningham’s distress and insistence to rehabilitate himself.
With great determination, hours of a new therapy, and perseverance Cunningham began to walk again, about two years after his accident.
Cunningham, I am sure, had his moments. However, with a positive attitude and faith, Cunningham overcame. He leaned on one of my own favorite Bible verses of all-time, Isaiah 40:31: But those who wait on the Lord renew their strength; they mount up like Eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint”.
Records come, and records go; only the memories of an incredible human spirit like Cunningham remain. Cunningham ended up running in two Olympics, set two world records, and was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame. However, his faith, service, and overcoming attitude exceeded anything he did on the track.I was even more impressed with how Cunningham spent the rest of his life after retirement from running.
Cunningham and his wife opened the Cunningham Youth Ranch, where they cared for about 10,000 abused and needy children, including children who experienced similar physical challenges that Cunningham had growing up. Cunningham’s life inspired a whole new generation. His overcoming nature, great heart for others, and his legacy of service are still inspiring to this day. Blessings,