From Summer’s mom: Sometimes angels come in unexpected forms. Yesterday, Summer, Jordan (Summer’s twin brother), Charles (Summer’s stepdad), and I were about to board a flight from Philadelphia to Atlanta, when a man approached us and said, “Would your daughter like my first class seat? I would be happy to trade with her.” I said, “Well, I’m not sure. She really likes to sit near me on flights, so I don’t know if she would like to be alone in first class or not, but let’s ask her.” So we went over to where she was sitting, and I said, ‘Summer, this man has offered to give you his first class seat. You’d be alone up there, though.” Her face lit up and a big smile spread across her face. She said, “Really? I’d really love that!” (So much for needing Mom.)

At first, it was a normal flight. We got to know Summer’s benefactor since he was sitting right with us. His name was Will, and he was from Norcross, GA. He was heading home just like us. He told us that he had lost his niece, Katie, three years ago to leukemia when she was about Summer’s age. He teared up as he talked about her. He said seeing Summer sitting in the gate area reminded him of Katie, and he wanted to help.

Then with little warning, all hell broke loose. Just a few rows behind us, a man standing in the aisle suffered what appeared to be a heart attack. All at once, everyone starting shouting and running. Flight attendants scrambled for oxygen and the defibrillator, fellow passengers jumped in to help get the man on the floor and t0 administer CPR.  The man’s wife began screaming hysterically. Over the loud speaker, the pilots ordered seat belts tightened for an emergency landing in Raleigh, NC. It was chaotic and frightening.

All I could think over and over again was, ‘I’m so glad Summer is not back here.’ Up front in first class, Summer was blissfully removed from the turmoil, arguing politics with her seat mate.

When the paramedics took the man off the plane in Raleigh, about 25 minutes after he had collapsed, everyone felt certain that he was dead. He had no pulse, was not breathing, and his pupils were non-responsive.

Then came the incredible news. The paramedics had managed to revive him. The man was breathing on his own.  A cheer went up, and the people who had worked so valiantly to save him began to cry in gratitude and relief.

My hero is a quieter one. Will didn’t do CPR, he didn’t work the defibrillator. But his selfless gift of a comfortable seat spared a young girl who has had enough trauma in her life lately from suffering a bit more. You are our hero, Will. Thank you and welcome to Team Summer!

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