For the last 20 years, Renee Bercury’s yellow raincoat has been her constant companion throughout every adventure – but when she saw a runner who was desperately in need of warmth, she didn’t hesitate to give it up.
Bercury and her family were in the midst of watching the Boston Marathon last week when one of the runners became overwhelmed by the rain and freezing temperatures.
“He had just such a look of despair and desperation on his face,” Bercury told Boston.com. “I remember him asking, ‘Can I have a jacket? Can I have a jacket?’ And I felt like he was looking at several people.”
Bercury immediately took off her raincoat and passed it to the runner. He zipped it up, quickly thanked her, and continued to run.
“He struck me as a person who was drowning and reaching his hand out for somebody to save him. It was that dramatic. It hit me that hard… So I had no qualms. It was just instinct to take the jacket off and hand it to him.”
Judging by his exhaustion, Bercury’s family doubted whether the runner would be able to finish the marathon. When her son ran past them a little later, she says that he looked just as bad. (His condition eventually forced him to drop out.)
The guy with her jacket, however, made it across the finish line—and immediately after completing the race, he took to social media in search of the jacket’s rightful owner.
His mission was shared thousands of times until it was picked up by news outlets. A few days later, Bercury received a text from her son containing a link to a news story about the man.
“I looked at the message from my son … and I just burst into tears,” said the 62-year-old woman. “I was just kind of overcome that he managed to finish, and what he said — that (the jacket) made the race for him… I was just really happy.”
The runner, 27-year-old Steven Stallis, managed to get Bercury’s phone number so they could swap stories about the marathon. Though she told him he could keep the jacket, he insisted on sending it back to her home in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania.
“She said she’s had the jacket for over 20 years, and it’s been all over the country on really cool trips,” he told Boston. “Now it’s crossed the Boston finish line, so it’s a new story for her to have that jacket back.”
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