Seven months after they helped save the life of their 6th grade science teacher, four McCord Junior
High School students have been recognized by the American Legion Auxiliary for their quick-thinking actions.
Sarah Sabol, Jaret Hoschak, Mark Curtis and Andy Riggs were presented the auxiliary’s Youth Hero Award on June 4 at the school’s year-end academic awards assembly.
The students acted swiftly when their teacher, Connie Root, collapsed in their classroom Nov. 9. Sarah, using the classroom phone, called a teacher in a nearby classroom. Andy hustled next door
to another teacher’s classroom. Jaret and Mark sprinted to the cafeteria where they found the school’s principal, Keith Limes, and Kathleen Theiss, a teacher.
Theiss performed CPR on Root, who had stopped breathing after suffering a severe heart attack. Paramedics from the Sylvania Township Fire Department and Lucas County EMS, who arrived within a few minutes, brought Root back from certain death.
During a five-day stay in Toledo Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, doctors found Root, amazingly, had not suffered brain damage after her heart stopped.
On Nov. 16, Root walked out of the hospital.
A week later, Evelyn Navarre, treasurer of the legion’s Sylvania auxiliary, Joseph W. Diehn Unit 468,
read an article in the Free Press detailing Root’s ordeal. She was moved to tears by the actions of the McCord students.
“They had a courageous attitude. And they didn’t panic,” she said. “I thought ‘This is amazing. I have to do something.’”
Navarre submitted the students’ names to the national auxiliary headquarters in Indianapolis, where
officials agreed they deserved the award that had been established in 2002 for exactly this type of situation.
In introducing the students at the assembly, an emotional, teary-eyed Navarre said: “May you all be reminded of the example of Andy, Sarah, Mark and Jaret, and never hesitate to go and get help when the need arises. Their teacher, Connie Root, is here today because of their quick actions.”
One-by-one the students approached the podium to receive first a certificate from the Sylvania auxiliary president, Marian Darr, and then a medal with a red, white and blue ribbon which Mariam Wuwert, the auxiliary’s Children & Youth chairman, hung around their necks.
Afterwards, as their families clicked away with their phone cameras, the students couldn’t stop smiling.
“I feel good about it,” said Mark, 12. “I was kind of proud.”
Jaret, celebrating his 13th birthday, said: “At first, I just thought I helped out. Now, with people
recognizing me, I think that’s cool.”
Nearby, an overjoyed Root couldn’t stop crying. Gradually, she’s going off the medications required since her attack. She’s receiving good reports from her doctors and said she feels great. She still marvels at her students’ actions that day.
"It’s just amazing what they did. Someone was in trouble, and they knew what to do.”
Glancing over at her students with a warm, tear-laced smile, she said, whistfully: “I don’t think they’ll realize what they did and the impact it had on so many people until they get older.”
Reported by George J. Tanber email@example.com