In 2015 29-year-old Sarah Cudd was an army captain based in Fort Knox, Kentucky. And she and her fellow soldiers in the Public Health Command faced a particularly strenuous challenge in April of that year.
Yes, Cudd and her colleagues undertook a test for the Expert Field Medical Badge. This is a prestigious award given to military personnel who can pass a tough series of written and physical challenges.
The Expert Field Medical Badge is widely renowned as an extremely difficult badge to earn. In fact, the pass rate is only 17 percent, demonstrating just how hard it is to complete all of the tests.
One particularly tough part of the assessment is the 12 Mile Foot March. It’s the final stage of the course and is a truly grueling test of physical endurance.
Over a 12-mile route, candidates have to carry heavy equipment on their backs as well as holding their rifles. What’s more, if they don’t finish the march in under three hours, then they don’t receive the badge.
Cudd was part of a batch of 239 candidates who took part in the test on this day. However, it was Cudd’s performance in particular that led to her becoming an online sensation.
More precisely, it was the final few feet of her 12 Mile Foot March that caught the internet’s attention. Thankfully, one of her army colleagues, Captain Lloyd Mason, managed to capture the moment unfolding before him on video.
Captain Mason then posted the footage to Facebook, where it quickly spread like wildfire. Indeed, what happened was so extraordinary that the video has been shared over 20,000 times on Facebook and viewed more than one million times on YouTube.
The start of the video showed Cudd trudging towards the finish line, rifle in hand. She then stumbled and fell to the ground; she was clearly completely exhausted by this stage of the test.
Then, in an act of steely determination, she managed to get to her feet again. She made it a few steps further, only to collapse once more. At this point, it looked as though Cudd wasn’t going to make it.
Exhausted and lying on the ground, struggling under the weight of her backpack, Cudd was not looking in good shape at all. However, it was then that her fellow soldiers pulled together to do something amazing.
They quickly gathered around Cudd while she was still on the ground and shouted in support. Then, with the help of their encouraging voices, Cudd leant on her rifle and summoned up the strength to pull herself back to her feet.
Still unsteady on her feet, Cudd began to march once more, now only a few feet from the finish line. Meanwhile, her colleagues never stopped shouting supportive comments, and some even walked alongside her as she fought on.
Cudd’s determination, coupled with her amazing support, finally took her all the way over finish line. Only just, though; when she reached it, she collapsed immediately. Her colleagues, on the other hand, screamed with joy that she’d managed to make it through the grueling test.
Crossing the line in two hours and 47 minutes, Cudd was among 46 candidates who received the Expert Field Medical Badge that day. Not only that, but she was also one of only 14 women who completed the course in under three hours.
“Relief was the only thing I felt after I was done,” Cudd told ABC News. She added, “Relief and gratitude to all those who were supporting me and willing me to the finish line.”
Her performance has since been widely praised as inspirational. Indeed, the U.S. Army’s Public Health Command shared the video with a caption reading, “[Cudd] shows us all what never quitting looks like.”
This level of attention “humbled” Cudd, according to ABC News. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that what she did that day was very impressive. As Cudd herself put it, she was “about five feet from failure,” but she got there in the end.
She explained how the thought of getting back home to her husband, along with the incredible support she’d received, was what gave her the final push that she needed.
Whether Cudd thinks that she is an inspiration to others or not, she certainly showed an incredible amount of grit and determination to get herself over that finish line. She was very close to failing, but her story goes to show that sometimes a little support from our friends can make a real difference.
Now, as we’ve seen in Cudd’s story, the way the people around you respond when you’re in trouble can have a huge impact on the outcome. And in some instances, the actions of friends and family can even save lives. Take, for example, Matt Gannaway, who was dismantling a shed when the roof collapsed on his head. Thankfully, when his four kids found him unconscious, they reacted in the most incredible way.
When a shed collapsed on their father’s head, all his kids could do was look on in horror. However, as they realized the magnitude of the situation, they knew they had to help. So, that’s when they devised an ingenious plan.
Matt Gannaway lives in Marshalltown, Iowa, with his four children, Ethan, 13, Peyton, 11, Addison, nine, and Kaidan, five. Moreover, like many dads, he loved nothing more than spending quality time with his kids. So, when his mom had some DIY for him, he decided to make it a family affair.
Matt thought it might be fun to get his children to help him dismantle his mother’s old shed. The shed had been in the yard for 40 years. However, since Matt’s mom was moving house, she wanted it taken down.
As a result, Matt and his children spent an hour and a half dismantling the wooden structure. At first, things went to plan. “Everything was going great,” he subsequently told CBS News in June 2017. “The kids were all helping well.”
So, in no time at all, the team got the shed to a point where it could simply collapse in on itself. As this was the most dangerous point of the task, Matt told his kids to wait inside the house. However, that’s when matters took a terrifying turn.
“It came down like it was supposed to,” Matt explained to Fox 8. “But then it flipped over sideways and knocked me out and pinned me underneath it.” Indeed, the resulting blow rendered the doting father unconscious.
Still, luckily for him, his children heard the commotion from inside their grandmother’s home. According to Matt’s daughter, Addison, the noise sounded like a large “Kaboom.” So, she and her siblings went outside to investigate.
“All I saw was the shed just crashing down and my dad being trapped,” Addison continued. As a result, she and the other children immediately leaped into action. Recalling her thoughts at the time, the nine-year-old said that all she could think was, “He’s gasping for air. I must save him.”
The sight was particularly traumatic for Matt’s five-year-old son, Kaidan. “He was bleeding on his head and neck and all over the place,” Kaidan recalled. So, along with his brother and sisters, he set to work on the rescue efforts.
Thankfully, before sending them into the house, Matt had told them what to do in case of an emergency. “I had them step outside the fence, in the house, and then I gave my son a cell phone and said, ‘If anything bad happens call 911,’” the dad told Inside Edition.
Moreover, that’s exactly what the children did. However, while they waited for emergency crews to arrive, they decided they needed to get their dad to safety. So, along with two other kids from the neighborhood, they hatched a plan to release Matt from the wreckage.
The children subsequently worked together to somehow lift the shed and drag their dad to safety. “It was a heavy shed,” 13-year-old Ethan told CBS News. “We tried to keep him from dying and get the ambulance over here to save him.”
Amazingly, little Addison forgot all about a recent softball injury in order to save her dad. “A softball hit me right here and cracked my bone,” she told Fox 8. Nonetheless, she endured the pain to help her dad. “Family comes before my body,” she said.
Matt was unconscious for around five minutes. Still, as soon as he came around, he knew that help was on its way. “I woke up to hear the sirens pulling up in front of the house,” he told CBS News. “I was just in extreme, extreme pain.”
Paramedics rushed Matt to hospital, where doctors found he had a broken scapula. He also had a graze to the head where he believed the shed had hit him. Moreover, the dad knew that if it wasn’t for his kids, things could have been much different.
The whole incident has made him reevaluate what’s important. “Especially after a situation like this, you have to live your life to the fullest, and my family and kids are number one to me,” he told Fox 8.
Later, Matt’s kids claimed that it was their positive attitude that helped them to save their dad. “Nothing is impossible if we set our minds to it and work together,” his son Ethan said. “I don’t think on a normal basis kids can lift a roof off their dad who’s pinned against the wall.”
In the end, the kids were just pleased that they could help out. “I’m very happy to see that my dad is OK and made it through it,” Ethan later told KCRG TV. “I don’t know what I would have done if he had died.”
Moreover, just hours after his accident, Matt had returned to dad duty. In fact, despite his ordeal, he took his kids to softball practice. “The least I could do is try to support them a little bit,” he told the Marshalltown Times-Republican.
From now on, their dad will always be thankful for his little heroes. Indeed, he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’m just absolutely so proud of them,” Matt said. “[When] I heard that my kids were the ones that saved me, I couldn’t have had a prouder moment.”