Cole Rappold said he is amazed to be called a hero, but to his family and the American Red Cross that is exactly what he is.
The Augusta chapter honored him Wednesday along with 15 others at its first Heroes Breakfast at First Baptist Church.
Last June 21, 10-year-old Cole and his family were swimming in a neighbor’s pool. Cole’s 3-year-old brother, Gavin, playfully pushed him into the deep end of the pool. The younger child then fell in himself.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, Gavin’s in the deep end. He’s going to drown,’ ” Cole said, recalling the incident. “I grabbed him and pulled him up.”
Though his own head was underwater, Cole fought to keep Gavin’s head above the water until their mother was able to pull the younger child out of the pool.
His actions, impressive under any circumstances, were even more remarkable because Cole has Asperger’s syndrome, which affects his coordination. He has to think about every movement he makes, which tires him out quickly, said his mother, Dayna Rappold.
That day, however, she believes he reacted without thinking.
“I’m extremely proud,” she said.
Cole is proud of himself.
“I never thought I would be called a hero,” he said. “It just amazes me because I never thought I could do something like that.”
Each hero told his or her own story in a video presentation before being presented with a trophy, and each story is as heroic as Cole’s.
After his team was hit by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, Pfc. Heath McClung wrapped a tourniquet around his leg and turned to stabilize a more severely wounded soldier. His act saved the soldier’s life.
Paramedics Joanne Cullum and Tikishi Herring stopped at a convenience store and ended up caring for a gunshot victim before police could arrive, saving the man’s life.
In their videos, many of the honorees told the audience that they didn’t feel like heroes and were just doing their jobs or what they were trained to do in emergency situations.
That’s what Lauren Gill said. She has been certified in CPR and first aid since she was 10, so she knew exactly what to do when she came across a 5-year-old choking on a piece of candy in the middle of a swimming pool parking lot.
She administered the Heimlich maneuver until the candy was dislodged.
“To me, it wasn’t a heroic act,” Gill said in her video. “It was doing what I’ve learned and doing what I’m trained to do.”