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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Champion Never Quit

When Glenn V. Cunningham was 6, he and his brother Floyd had the
chore of starting a fire in the schoolhouse stove every cold morning. One
Feb morning in 1916, the kerosene container had accidentally been filled
with gasoline. The stove exploded. Floyd was killed and Glenn's legs were so
badly burned.

When Glenn was 8 the doctors recommended amputating his legs, but his
mother didn't allow it. The doctors predicted he might never walk normally
again. However, his great determination led him to gradually regain the
ability to walk.

After several weeks in bed, he was able to walk on crutches. Finally, he got
rid of the crutches but, as he said later, "It hurt like thunder to walk,
but it didn't hurt at all when I ran. So for 5 or 6 yrs, about all I
did was run."

Cunningham set a world record for the mile and indoor world records for the
1500 meters and the mile. He was on the 1932 n1936 Olympic teams.

Because of circulation problems caused by his childhood accident, Cunningham
needed nearly an hour to prepare for a race. He first had to massage his
legs and he then required a long warm up period.

Despite the fact that smoke bothered him, he turned in outstanding
performances at Madison Square Garden, where he won 22 indoor miles.

Cunningham had a master's degree from the University of Iowa and a
doctorate from New York University, retired from competition in 1940 and for
4 yrs was director of physical education at Cornell College in Iowa.

After spending 2 yrs in the Navy, Cunningham and his wife opened the Glenn
Cunningham Youth Ranch in Kansas, where they helped to raise about 10,000
underprivileged children. A lay preacher, Cunningham periodically went on
lecture tours to raise money for the ranch.

"Optimists enrich the present, enhance the future, challenge the improbable
and attain the impossible. If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you
can dream it, you can become it.~ William Arthur Ward"

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