Ken Klemm Spring Hill, FL, United States
In 1917 in Elkhart Kansas there lived a little
eight-year-old boy who loved to walk. His favorite
daily activity was walking with his older brother
Floyd, age thirteen, was a mentor to his little
brother. He walked with him to and from school every
day. He walked with him to the ball field and taught
him how to throw and catch. He walked with him to the
pond and taught him how to fish, and ice skate in the
The little boy looked up to Floyd and loved walking and
playing with him. Floyd was his hero.
One winter morning the two boys walked to school
together, but one of them would never again return
At school, some careless person accidently filled a
kerosene container with gasoline. The resulting
explosion destroyed much of the school in fire. Floyd
died in the blaze, and his little brother was trapped
by debris and his legs were badly burned.
At the hospital, the doctors told his grieving parents
they recommended amputating the little boy’s legs. This
news distressed the boy, already devastated by Floyd’s
death, who could not bear the thought of losing his
The boy’s father protested, “No! My son loves to walk
more than anything else. He needs his legs!”
The doctors replied, “But sir, you don’t understand.
He’s lost all the flesh on his knees and shins, and all
the toes on his left foot. Also, his transverse arch
was practically destroyed. He will never walk normally
To which the father replied, “No, YOU don’t understand.
I lost a son today. I will not have you destroy my
other son’s spirit. If amputation were not an option,
what treatments would you prescribe?”
So, his parents changed the little boy’s bandages
several times daily, and applied salves and ointments
for many months. The boy endured hours upon hours of a
new type of therapy daily.
With a determination, deeply rooted in a positive
mental attitude and strong religious faith, he dreamed
of walking again.
Roughly two years after the tragic accident the little
boy, then age ten, attempted to stand. He swung his
legs off the side of the bed and placed his feet on the
When he applied a little weight and pressure to his
feet, two fiery bolts of pain shot up through his legs
and body and out the top of his head.
The pain was tremendous!
Determined, he kept at it daily until he was finally
able to place all his weight upon his feet. Aided by
his parents, he took his first shuffling steps, placing
weight on one foot then the other - all the while in
The little boy’s parents set up supporting hand rails
around his room, so he could practice, strengthen and
learn to endure the pain daily.
Whenever he neared his window, he would gaze out at the
road where he shared so many wonderful walks with his
hero, Floyd - thinking to himself, “I will walk on that
Finally, under his parents’ watchful eyes, he ventured
outside and walked to the road, turned around and
returned to the house completely drained and exhausted.
The next day he returned to the road, walked a few
steps up the road, and came back.
In what became his daily ritual, he added a few more
steps to his walk on the road - more and more each day.
He reached a tenth of a mile and back, a fifth, a
quarter, a third, a half mile.
Never relenting, he grew stronger and walked further
and further...and faster.
Then he began to run...and he ran further and faster,
faster and further...and faster and faster
- like the wind he ran!
...And that little boy, whose legs the doctors wanted
to amputate, grew up and became Glenn Cunningham - the
“Kansas Flyer”, the “Elkhart Express”, the “Iron Horse
In the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin, Glenn
Cunningham took the silver medal in the 1500 meter
In 1934, he set the world record for the outdoor mile
run at 4:06.8 - a record which stood for three years.
In 1936, he set the world record for the 800 meter run.
In 1938, he set the world record for the indoor mile at
Cunningham’s story was a major inspiration for Roger
Bannister, who was the first to break the four-minute
mile in 1954.
Your Friend and Servant,
P.S. “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their
strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and
~ Isaiah 40:31, Glenn Cunningham’s favorite verse.