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Quick-Thinking Kindergartner Saves Substitute Teacher’s Life

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Most kindergarteners have a good day when they remember to tie their shoes and stand quietly in line. Six-year-old Max Meza recently had a good day—celebrated by his school, his community, and the family of his substitute teacher, Joyce Darr—that has people around the world calling him a hero.

One school morning, while playing with his classmates, Max heard a commotion and saw his teacher fall to the ground. Without hesitation, the kindergartner ran down the hall to the nearest classroom, shouting for help. A student had accidentally bumped into their teacher, causing her to lose her balance and hit her head on a desk. According to doctors, Joyce Darr’s head injury was so severe that immediate action was essential to her survival. Had little Max hesitated even 30 seconds, it would have meant the difference between life and death for the 67-year-old teacher.

Proud Mom, Proud Community

Max’s mother, Monica Aguilar, was pleased and surprised to get the call from Frostproof Elementary, where Max attends, telling her of her son’s quick thinking. In a video created by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Monica said, “I’m very proud of him as a mom. I would never expect that from him — he’s so small. To know what to do in an event like that. I’m just so proud of my kid.” Monica learned that the other kindergartners were so frightened by the sight of their teacher bleeding on the ground, they froze in their tracks. But Max launched into action, ensuring that precious moments weren’t spared, ensuring the best outcome for Joyce.

The accolades for Max did not stop with his mother’s praise. Max was given a Good Citizenship Award, along with a bike, in recognition of his actions, from the Sheriff’s Office. (They also christened him with the hashtag #MaxTheTinyHero in all of their social media posts about the event.) One commenter on PCSO’s Facebook page remarked, “Congrats to Max’s family for raising such a fine and compassionate young man.” Another commenter — one with a very personal connection to the incident, Joyce’s own son — remarked, “Max for President!”

Part Of The Family

Derek Darr was faced with grave news when he arrived at his mother’s Florida bedside from his home in Ohio. He and his wife flew in to be with Joyce as soon as they heard she had to be airlifted to the hospital from Frostproof. Not only had Joyce fractured her skull when she fell to the floor, she had internal bleeding that often results in permanent brain injury or death. When she arrived at the hospital, Joyce was unconscious and would remain so for another 12 days. However, her friends, family, and students were overjoyed when she woke up and was alert, able to identify her loved ones.

When Joyce and the Darr family heard what transpired in the classroom, they were anxious to meet Max. All agreed that Max’s actions spared the family a much worse trauma. Derek wanted to provide a special gift for Max to show his appreciation. He settled on a pair of white Air Jordans, in Max’s school colors of red and white, for the young first responder. When Max and Monica went to the hospital to meet the Darrs, not only did Derek gift Max the sneakers, but he “hugged him 20 or 100 times.” Derek told Fox 13, Tampa, his mother’s recovery is “a miracle, and if it wasn’t for Max she’d be dead, no doubt about it.” On his Facebook page, Derek proclaimed, “You will forever be family, Max. I love you forever for this lil man. Thank you thank you thank you. ❤️❤️”

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