There are a lot of people who are going to be challenging themselves today.

I love the way the entire F-M community embraces the Fargo Marathon. Those who can run, run. The rest of us fall into line, either helping out with race day preparations, playing music along the route or handing out water.

Some people, like my kids, stand along the course and cheer their little heads off hoping to motivate the runners to keep moving one foot in front of the other.

I think all of those jobs are equally important. They all provide each of us with the opportunity to encourage one another, which in my book means the opportunity to be kind.

Gail Gabrielson of Fargo shares this story about the power of looking out for our neighbors. It wasn’t at an official race, but I’m sure the man she helped remembers how one woman helped him make it to the “finish line.”

“This incident happened some time ago when I was living in Davenport, N.D., and working in Casselton. Mostly I used my commute to listen to books on tape.

One particularly warm day, I was just coming over the overpass south of Casselton, when I noticed a fellow walking his bicycle toward town.

He wasn’t young, but he looked fairly fit, so apparently he rode his bike a lot. He had a helmet on, but when he turned his face, I realized how red his face was. He was walking slowly, and it looked like he was struggling.

I kept going, thinking about how hot he must be. Instantly I knew what I had to do. I backed up just a little bit and hit the button to lower the window on the passenger side. I took the unopened bottle of water out of my beverage holder and held it out to him.

“You look like you could use this,” I called to him.

He only hesitated a moment, and then thanked me and took it.

I didn’t hang around – I was headed home after all – but I like to think that perhaps I helped that fellow make it back home without suffering heat stroke.”

Who knows? Gail may have saved a man’s life that day. If nothing else, she gave him something to take his mind off the heat as he finished his workout.

I can’t wait to hear about all of the ways people reached out to encourage each other on this race day. I hope you’ll share those stories of kindness with me at Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.


Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo, and currently the executive director of Diva Connection Foundation. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.