The Middle Township Committee honored Jamar Mack with the Middle Matters Civic Recognition award at Monday's committee meeting, celebrating what they called his "outstanding sportsmanship and compassion for others".

The Middle Township Committee got it exactly right and I applaud them for honoring Jamar.

Let me tell you why.

I was lucky to witness one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen at a sporting event during a cross-country meet at Stockton University one afternoon in October.

The Cape Atlantic Cross Country Championships features the best runners from teams in Cape May and Atlantic counties. I had gone to the meet to watch my daughters run for Atlantic City.

The girls' race was followed by the boys' championship.

I knew several of the guys running from watching them at previous meets this season.

One boy who has stood out to me is Egg Harbor Township High School's Cam Koryga, who I saw win the Atlantic County Championships the week before in Hammonton.

Koryga has the stride of a natural runner and he can fly. He was the fastest boy in Atlantic County this year.

As I watched the runners begin to cross the finish line at Stockton, it occurred to me that Cam Koryga wasn't in the front of the pack. 15 or 20 kids had crossed the finish line before I first caught sight of Koryga coming slowly down the home stretch.

It was clear that something was wrong with him.

Koryga grimaced in pain and then stumbled and fell. Immediately, another runner stopped to help him up and the two continued together for a few seconds and then Cam fell again.

The other runner, wearing a Middle High jersey, stayed right with him and helped him up again, putting his arm around Koryga's waist and guiding him along down the course.

The other runner was Jamar Mack, a freshman on the Middle Township High School cross-country team.

When I asked him later if he knew what happened to EHT's Koryga, he said he had come upon him a little earlier in the race and Koryga had hurt his leg somehow and fallen. He didn't see it happen, though, "he was way ahead of me".

Mack had stayed with Koryga -- a runner he did not know from an opposing team -- because he could tell he was in pain but determined to run.

As the two runners neared the end of the race, the crowd witnessed the most beautiful moment of the day.

When Middle's Jamar Mack, running with his arm around Egg Harbor Township's Cam Koryga to help him stand, finally reached the finish line, Mack pushed Koryga ahead of him, letting the EHT runner cross the finish line just ahead of him.

When the awards for the top 25 finishers were announced later, Egg Harbor Township High School's Cam Koryga came in 24th with Jamar Mack from Middle Township High School finishing 25th.

Jamar Mack had already proven he was a winner.

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