Brent Cunningham was the Good Samaritan who gave Laura Wellington his Boston Marathon medal in 2013.

How I tracked down the Boston Marathon’s Good Samaritan

Three years ago, a compelling story emerged after the Boston Marathon bombings.

Laura Wellington was half a mile from the finish line when the two bombs went off and the race was halted.

A passing stranger, who was in the race himself and collected a medal, saw Wellington sitting on a curb in tears. He gave her his medal.

She was so shocked by this act of generosity that she didn’t get his name and took to Facebook to try to find this Good Samaritan. Her story was shared more than 100,000 times.

I took up the hunt too after I saw her Facebook post. It was a needle in a haystack.

Three years ago, a compelling story emerged after the Boston Marathon bombings.

Laura Wellington was half a mile from the finish line when the two bombs went off and the race was halted.

A passing stranger, who was in the race himself and collected a medal, saw Wellington sitting on a curb in tears. He gave her his medal.

She was so shocked by this act of generosity that she didn’t get his name and took to Facebook to try to find this Good Samaritan. Her story was shared more than 100,000 times.

I took up the hunt too after I saw her Facebook post. It was a needle in a haystack.

After hours and hours of digging, I had a name: Brent Cunningham, but had no idea where he lived. Was he Canadian? American? I finally found him. In Alaska.

My search had been going nowhere until I heard a taped interview of someone named Brent Cunningham talking about this incident on a Seattle radio station.

He said he lived in Sitka, Alaska. Bingo.

Once I had his name and location, I looked up his number and reached out to him. He was happy to talk on the phone.

I was one of the first journalists in the world to find him. This is his story.

After I identified him, a major U.S. television network brought the two of them together later in Boston for a happy reunion.

This is No. 4 on my top-40 list of stories written for the Toronto Star in a 35-year career as I take early retirement this month.

The story appeared on April 18, 2013.

Laura Wellington’s touching story on Facebook was shared more than 100,000 times.

By Curtis Rush

Touched by the spontaneous generosity of a stranger in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, a 25-year-old runner from Cambridge, Mass., turned to Facebook to find her Good Samaritan.

The marathon rules insist only race finishers may collect a race medal, and Laura Wellington was half a mile from the finish line when the two bombs went off Monday and the race was abruptly halted.

A passing stranger — a marathon participant himself, as it turned out — saw her sitting on the curb in tears and gave her his medal.

On Tuesday, curious to know who the kindly man was, Wellington put her story of Facebook. The posting quickly went viral (nearly a quarter of a million “likes” by Wednesday evening) and a few hours later she had a name: Brent Cunningham.

Cunningham, 46, a native of faraway Sitka, Alaska, population 9,000, had just arrived in Anchorage for a business meeting late Tuesday when he learned Wellington was looking for him. By Wednesday, they had contacted each other on Facebook but had not yet had a chance to talk by phone.

“This is the craziest story,” he told the Star by telephone. “I never thought we’d connect again. Why would we? How would we?”

Cunningham had crossed the finish line about half an hour before the deadly explosions. He got his medal and was making his way back to his hotel with his wife, Karin, and their 17-year-old daughter, Megan, when they came across a young woman sobbing. She had a race number but no medal.

The woman — they never learned her name — told them she panicked when she heard of the explosions, knowing her family was at the finish line waiting for her. But she had only now made contact with them and learned they were safe. She was so overjoyed she sat down and dissolved into tears.

It was cold and windy, and Karin placed a blanket around Wellington. Cunningham asked if she had finished the race. She said no.

“Then I just knew what I had to do, “ he said.

Cunningham took off his medal and slipped it around her neck. Wellington burst into tears, as did his wife.

“I just wanted to let her know she was amazing. I said, ‘You’re a finisher in my eyes.’ That was that,” Cunningham said. “She was so emotional she couldn’t talk. She needed it more than I needed it.”

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.