Story of the shot: How photographer snapped piggyback pic seen 'round the world


It's a picture that's been seen around the world, passed on for the spirit of sportsmanship that it exemplifies. If a picture tells a thousand words, this snap tells the tale of an instinct for kindness that trumped a desire to win at a girl's cross-country meet.

The picture went viral in social media, was picked up by television networks, carried in media in the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan and featured--along with the two high school runners from competing North Dakota high schools--on the Ellen DeGeneres show.

Now the Fargo Forum has the back story of how the picture came to be, and shines the spotlight on the hobby photographer who took the compelling shot.

Her name is Janelle Hogenson. The West Fargo mother started taking pictures at Fargo South High School sporting events when her son was an athlete there. Now an empty-nester, she has continued to attend many of the school's sporting events with her trusty Cannon SOR in tow. She's known around town as the "unofficial Packer Backer photographer." (You can see more of here photos on the Packer Backer Facebook page.)

In that capacity, Hogenson went to a meet in Glyndon, Minnesota to catch some end-of-the-season pictures of the Packers cross country team. She started snapping when she saw Devils Lake girls cross- country runner Melanie Bailey carrying injured Fargo South competitor Danielle LeNoue.

At the time, Bailey told the Devil's Lake Journal that she saw LeNoue crying in pain. When Bailey stopped and offered help, the Fargo South runner told her to “go on,” but Bailey refused. She put the girl on her back and carried her a quarter of a mile to get medical attention.

That journey carried the pair past where Hogenson was staking out the finish line.

“I came home and showed my husband and he said, ‘Well, what are you going to do with this,’” Hogenson told the Forum. “He said I needed to share that with somebody and I thought, I’d love to see it if it was one of my kids.

Hogenson sent the picture to the athletic directors at Fargo South and Devils Lake, hoping the photo would make it back to the girls’ parents. She doesn't know who first sent the photo to local media; she only knows it wasn’t her.

She has gotten some credit for the picture, which she almost didn't take because it felt intrusive to get a photograph during a time of such duress.

“I was torn because No. 1, the girl was clearly in pain and I felt kind of weird taking a picture of a girl in pain,” she said. “On the other side, I saw this girl doing an awesome deed. I thought I had to take a picture.”

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