“Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend.”
— Bill Watterson (creator of “Calvin and Hobbes”)
Two years ago, when he was in first grade, Gus Kletzien of Providence joined his classmates from the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School to compete in a CVS Health Downtown Youth Race. His mom, Ilse, walked alongside, keeping a close eye on her son but trying not to interfere.
Gus, who uses a walker, was the last participant to cross the finish line. But, his mom says, his first words to her were, “I won.”
This year, Gus wanted to run the boys 400-meter race, but in the interest of safety his parents couldn’t let him join his classmates on the starting line. He would instead take part in the shorter, less chaotic “All Kids Can” 200-meter inspirational run/walk.
As he reached the starting line with his walker, Gus found himself surrounded by about 10 of his school friends and their siblings.
With each step, moving slowly up the Francis Street course with him, they chanted an encouraging, “Go, Gus! Go Gus!”
Gus was about halfway to the finish line when he began to tire. At his side from the start was his best friend and classmate, Brandon Ballou.
Brandon had skipped his own race to run with Gus. On cue, Brandon took up a position behind the walker, and Gus got on. The two BFFs, powered by Brandon’s legs and an abundance of boy spirit, zoomed through the remainder of the course, over the finish line and into the hearts of all watching.
“That’s the fastest I have ever pushed you,” Brandon told Gus. And as they gathered with their buddies for a post-race picture, it was clear that, once again, Gus had won.
copyright 2016 Kris Craig / The Providence Journal / 2 Much Time design