If I had the time, I would read the stories of my patient’s lives. In the rush of a busy clinic day, it’s easy to forget the pages of events that make them who they are.

One gentleman threw out a teaser last week. I just decided to take the time to enter in, and what a story he told. Mr. Rob W is a 69 year old African American and one of my more healthy patients.  Runs still 3 times a week, stays trim and in shape. Back in the 1950’s he ran track in high school, and ran very fast. He was recruited by several schools, but decided on Pitt State based on 1 simple experience.  The Pitt sate coach invited him to come run in an AAU competition in Indiana. He went, and he won the 100 yd dash, and on the way home the whole team stopped in a local diner to celebrate.  The entire team was white, except for Rob, who remember wasn’t even on the team. When they entered the diner, the coach made a point to have Rob sit with him. Rob was confused, but obliged. It wasn’t long before the owner of the diner came up and calmly told Rob he was not welcome in the diner, as they didn’t serve colored folk.  Rob was unaccustomed to this, but quietly got up to leave. The coach grabbed his arm and rose. “Alright boys, we’ll all be leaving now” and immediately, all 30 team members rose to exit.  The owner, shocked, quickly changed his mind, “I suppose we’ll have to change our policy for you all”  Rob decided at that moment he’d run for Pitt State.  He knew this coach would be his advocate, and watch over him.  

He went on to tell me of breaking color barriers in track and field…of meets in Texas, where he was the first black athlete to run on the track field.  But also of towns in Texas, where he wasn’t even allowed off the bus, or wasn’t allowed to shower after meets in the locker rooms.

He ran against the greats, like Bobby Morrow and Dave Sime who won a gold medal and silver medal respectively in the 100m at the 1956 Olympics. He went on to place 1st in the central intercollegiate conference championships 3 years in a row (55-57) and was elected into the intercollegiate athletic hall of fame. 

In his time he was one of the fastest men on earth, and here he sat, humbly in my little clinic room. When I take the time to hear the stories that knit together my patients lives, I am always blessed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s