LOUISVILLE, Ky. — There were 10,000 runners and walkers at the Rodes City 10K on Saturday. Asia Ford was among the last. But a photo of her finish has caused a sensation online, thanks to a police officer who kept her going when she was about to give up.
The race in Louisville, Kentucky, was another milestone for Ford, who has lost 217 pounds in her quest to live a healthier life for her children.
According to CNN affiliate WAVE-TV, Ford trained for months for the event. But around mile 5, breathing became a challenge.
“I messed up and forgot to eat this morning,” she wrote on her Facebook page, adding that she was still recovering from a bout of pneumonia.
As she struggled to finish, to move forward and to catch her breath, her son Terrance stepped in to offer a supporting hand. Emergency medical service crew weren’t far behind, just in case.
But Ford wouldn’t let breathing problems or an empty stomach hold her back.
Louisville police Lt. Aubrey Gregory was impressed.
“The EMS guys got out to check on her, and she said I’m not stopping, I’m not stopping,” Gregory told WAVE-TV. “So I said I’m not going to let her stop, we’re going to do this together. So I got out and I grabbed her hand. I had to meet this inspirational woman.”
Flanked by her son and the lieutenant, Ford walked the remaining 1.2 miles. Photos show her face twisted in a grimace, Lt. Gregory leaning toward her, talking about health, trying to keep her mind off the pain.
“I almost had a slip up with my breathing,” Ford wrote on Facebook, “but a police officer by the name of Mr Gregory got out and took my hand to finish the race with my baby and I and WE MADE IT!!!”
Ford’s story has racked up well north of 1 million likes on Facebook. In the comments, people shared notes of encouragement and congratulations for Ford.
“As someone who has also lost 200lbs…I know how HARD you worked for this wonderful moment,” wrote Jennifer Bruce.
Many praised the officer for helping and for caring. “Now that’s community service,” opined one commenter.
Others noted that this is a welcome good news story, especially after a spate of high-profile police shootings.
Ford’s son Terrance expressed a similar sentiment to WAVE-TV, saying “with all the stuff that’s going on with police it’s nice to know there good people out there.”
Terrance also said his mother’s tenacity “makes me push harder to do the things I want to do in life.”
As for Lt. Gregory, he and Ford will be honored by Louisville’s mayor for “health and compassion.”
“It was a great moment,” the officer told WAVE-TV, “and I’m glad she let me be a part of it.”