CHICAGO (CBS) — It was an unforgettable marathon finish for Edward Hensley — not because of his time, but rather how he go to the end, with the help of two Chicago Police officers and a folding chair.
At the time, Hensley knew he was in a great deal of pain. However, he didn’t realize his hip was broken.
“At mile 24, unfortunately I felt something that, to be honest with you, I’ve never felt before in my life,” Hensley said before going into surgery at Northwestern. “I couldn’t move. I had to sit down on the ground. I tried to get up, but I couldn’t.”
It was then when officer Joe Siska offered to help.
“I asked him if he could rub my leg, and he said sure, and we laughed,” Hensley recalls. “And I said ‘this isn’t what you thought you’d be doing,’ and he laughed. He said, ‘anything for you.'”
Siska helped Hensley get to a nearby aid tent and left. In a letter sent to the Chicago Police Department, Hensley explained what happened about 40 minutes later: “Out of nowhere, the officer who initially assisted me, showed back up and said he came back because he saw something in my eyes that said I needed to go on.”
Siska then told Hensley if he wanted to finish the race, he’d help him do so. The two began walking the last two miles, together, at a pace of less than one mile an hour.
About a block later, probationary officer Alfredo Martinez joined the effort. “They said, ‘whatever you need, we’re going to be here for as long as it takes,'” Hensley said. And they sure meant it. When Hensley joking asked for a cane, the officers found a folding chair for him to use as a crutch.
“When we saw the sign that said 400 meters, they said they were as excited as I was,” Hensley said, adding, “I am forever grateful for their kindness and they are forever my friends.”
This was Hensley’s 11 marathon, and his 9th Chicago Marathon in a row. He realizes it may have been his last, but he says it’s also his most memorable, and that crossing the finish line was a “wave of emotion.”
Hensley is out of surgery and recovering well. Doctors were able to fix the fracture, but say he has a long recovery process ahead. As for Hensley’s helpers? He says a reunion with the officers is planned once he is back on his feet.