Darius Kruah sees the big picture. Even with the focus needed to win a race, he used his peripheral vision to spot, recognize and seize an opportunity for compassion.

Darius represented Mossy Creek Elementary in the 100 meters in the Aiken County (S.C.) School District’s annual track meet. He had competed the year before and was aiming for victory before moving on to middle school. Lined up in the lane next to him was Aaren Crane from Merriwether Elementary. Darius got the better start, then edged ahead of the pack. Victory seemed inevitable.

Until Aaren stumbled and fell forward, landing on his wrist. Despite holding the lead and just steps from victory, Darius doubled back and returned to Aaren to help him get up.

“He wasn’t going to be able to win the race, and that wouldn’t be fair,” Darius said. “So I thought that I would just lose the race with him just to help him and see if he was OK.”

His simple act of selflessness and caring tugged at the hearts of eyewitnesses, who shared photos on social media. From there, it struck a chord and spread. Darius’s mom, Brittany, said, “It shows there’s still good people in the world, and that it’s especially true with children. And it shows that caring doesn’t go unnoticed.”

In this case, caring also proved infectious. In addition to showing concern, Darius said he was trying to set a good example. “If you help someone, they could go and help someone, and they keep on going and help people, too.”

And even before the first photo of the two hit Facebook, Aaren paid the kindness forward. Enroute to the hospital for treatment, he saw a family stranded on the side of the road. Aaren asked his mom, Alicia, to turn around to see if they could help.

“Aaren wanted to take them home because they didn’t have transportation and it was hot out,” Alicia said. “I told him that we needed to get his arm checked, but he said that he was fine, that he had ice on it, that it would be OK. But we needed to help the people.”

So, the Cranes gave the family a ride home, then tended to Aaren’s arm. Which has healed nicely. Aaren has returned to sports, tree climbing and bike riding.

Strangers before the race, Darius and Aaren have moved on to separate middle schools but have formed a bond. They get together once or twice a month and meet online more frequently for a game of Roblox.

“The story grabs people because it shows the humanity in children that you don’t see as much in adults these days,” Alicia said. “They both set a good example.”