Eagle Scout’s triathlon finish defined the heart of a champion

Spencer Zimmerman so badly wanted his friend with cerebral palsy to finish a triathlon that in 2010, the Arizona Eagle Scout pushed, pulled, and carried his buddy through a 500-meter swim, 3.2-mile run, and 12-mile bike ride.

Spencer, then 13 years old, and his friend Dayton Hayward trained relentlessly — Spencer pulled Dayton in a raft, pushed him in a jogger while running, and towed him on a bike — to prepare for the three-hour race that challenged the physical and mental stamina of both young men.

And yesterday, two years after the pair crossed the finish line, the Boy Scouts of America and the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation recognized the strength of Spencer’s heart in a big way. The organizations honored him with the American Spirit Award, one of the nation’s highest civilian honors for youth.

The award has thrust Spencer into the national spotlight, but the 15-year-old is quick to deflect its aim.

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