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Houlton sixth-graders lauded for bravery

HOULTON, Maine — On April 5, members of the American Red Cross and Houlton Fire and Ambulance Department honored two sixth-graders at Houlton Middle-High School for their bravery.

Landon Wotton and Parker Kowalski were the guests of honor at the Friday morning assembly as the duo were lauded by the American Red Cross as part of that group’s “Real Heroes” honorees. The two students are among several area residents who will be formally recognized Friday, May 17, at the 21st annual Real Heroes Awards Banquet at the Stone Ridge Event Center in Presque Isle.

Mary Green, community manager for the American Red Cross in Aroostook County,  said she wanted to give the two boys their awards early in front of their peers in the hopes that it may spark one of them to take action when the situation arises.

The Red Cross selected the two youths, both 12-years-old, to receive 2019 Young Heroes awards for their bravery in helping save a man’s life back in May 2018. The boys were at Houlton’s Skate Park when they saw a man fall down near his vehicle. The man’s name has never been released.

“We were just at the skate park, biking around like we normally do,” Kowalski said. “I was checking Instagram on my phone when we saw a guy fall from his truck. He got right back up, but then he fell again and went unconscious.”

Kowalski said he had never called 911 before so he dialed the number and handed his phone to Wotton, who spoke with dispatchers.

“I was nervous,” Wotton said. “I don’t really remember.”

D.J. Norton of the Houlton Fire Department presented each boy with challenge coin for his bravery.

“It really takes a special someone to be a hero,” he said. “If these two young fellows didn’t call 911 and take the time to help that person, the outcome could have been much worse.”

Norton said he appreciated the boys’ efforts in identifying a person in need and taking action.

“They could have just let it go and went on their way, but they decided to take action and it takes a special someone to do that,” Norton said.

During the presentation, Green asked the students what it meant to them when they hear the word “hero.”

“For many, when they hear the word hero, they think of Superman with the red cape,” she said. “But not all heroes wear red capes. When I hear the word hero, I think of parents, because they sacrifice a lot, putting their children’s needs before their own.”

She said firefighters, police officers, ambulance personnel and teachers are also heroes for the work they do on a daily basis.

“All of you can be heroes too,” Green said. “If you see someone at school who is being bullied, or you see someone who needs a friend, it costs nothing to be kind to someone.”

The boys were presented with medals, along with movie tickets, snacks and a certificate for a free dinner. Norton also gave the youths commemorative coins for their efforts.

Green added that she wanted to make the presentation in front of the boys’ peers in the hopes that it would spark others to take action if the situation ever warrants.

“It sets a really good example in front of their peers,” she said. “You can find lots of bad examples all around you. I hope this inspires others to do the right thing as well.”

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