By JOHN FORTMEYER, CNNW publisher
BEND — A young Christian here stumbled and fell hard — but only physically, not spiritually –— and it not only sparked a sudden new change in state law, but also caused millions to hear about the goodness of God.
One week after Summit High School junior Maggie Williams on April 21 set a school record in the 800-meter run — but not without collapsing with full force across the finish line and briefly going unconscious because she wore a state-required mask while racing — she and her father Stephen shared her story before a national audience with Laura Ingraham on TV’s Fox News Channel. Shown was the dramatic video of the teen’s fall on the track.
The interview took place two days after the state government announced a sudden change, now informally referred to by some as “Maggie’s Law.” At the strong urging of the Oregon School Athletics Association, and with many irate about what happened to the teen and the dangers other young athletes faced because of the COVID-19 masks, the Oregon Health Authority on April 26 revised its regulations.
“We are revising the current guidance on the use of masks outdoors during competition,” said the OHA announcement. “The guidance will (now) allow people to take off face coverings when competing in non-contact sports out-doors and maintaining at least six feet of distance from others and the other virus protective protocols.”
The change was sorely needed, agreed Ingraham, the Williamses and Summit High track coach Dave Turnbull, who said Maggie had needlessly experienced “complete oxygen debt.” He said it made no sense to require track athletes to wear masks during outdoor competitions.
“My muscles started to seize up about 3 meters from the finish line and I dind’t really have any control,” Maggie told Ingraham.
Her record time in the 800 was 2 minutes, 8.45 seconds.
Ingraham, who said she herself is the mom of a young athlete, was incensed that the state had required masks during the high school competitions.
“This is crazy! I find this to be so upsetting and outraging,” Ingraham said.
Stephen Williams told Ingraham it was heartbreaking to watch his daughter fall, but he then quoted Romans 8:28 and said God is working the incident out for good.
“I am so proud of Maggie. She loves Jesus … God divinely protected her in the fall,” he said. “Secondly, you now have thousands of Oregon athletes who don’t need to wear masks while running. So it’s a huge blessing there.”
This wasn’t the first time Maggie’s father received national airtime on Fox News and other media. In 2004 he was interviewed on Fox’s Hannity and Colmes program when, as a fifth-grade teacher in California, he was the plaintiff in a federal court case concerning the censorship of historical documents with Christian references. He claimed his speech and academic freedom had been restricted by school administrators.
Eventually moving to Oregon, in 2006 he founded Bend-based Prepare the Way Ministries (preparetheway.us) and speaks nationally on worldview, apologetics, and cultural issues. The ministry also has annually presented the Christian Youth Summit, drawing hundreds of young people with a focus on standing firm in their faith.