WALPOLE – This past October Caleigh Concannon, 4, and her mother Heather were volunteering at Golden Opportunities for Independence (GOFI) when Caleigh’s quick thinking helped save a life.
It was their first day volunteering at GOFI, an organization that breeds and trains service dogs. Shortly after their arrival, Heather said Caleigh asked to use the bathroom.
Upon learning where the facilities were, Heather told Caleigh to go on ahead.
"Almost immediately she ran back out and told me a man was sleeping on the floor," Heather said.
Heather and GOFI staff went into the building and found volunteer Michael Flynn collapsed on the floor, having a seizure.
"What’s amazing is that none of us would have gone into that house for hours," Heather said.
Even more coincidental is that the night before, Heather and her husband Michael, a Type-1 diabetic, sat down with Caleigh and their other two daughters, Madison, 8, and Chloe, 7. During the family meeting they discussed different scenarios and went over how to should respond should they ever find Michael in a perilous situation.
Caleigh was able to use that information and apply it the very next day.
"It makes me happy to know that she was paying attention," Heather said.
Shortly after the incident Police Chief John Carmichael, and other members of the police department, presented Caleigh with a Community Hero award and a positive ticket for a free movie at Showcase Cinemas.
"When anyone, especially kids, respond to a difficult situation without hesitation and wish such poise we must recognize how special that is," Carmichael said. "We are talking about a little four-year-old girl who listened to her parents and applied what she learned when she was challenged while being by herself in a very serious situation. She may not understand it, but her actions helped save someone’s life and that is very special."
Heather said Caleigh was a little nervous upon receiving the Community Hero award, and while she doesn’t quite comprehend the magnitude of her actions, she knows she did something good.
Then last month the Concannon’s received a call from the Boston Celtics organization, who heard of Caleigh’s story and wanted to honor her as one of its Heroes Among Us.
Since its establishment in 1997 the Boston Celtics Heroes Among Us program has recognized outstanding individuals who have made exceptional and lasting contributions to their communities. The award is presented at every Celtics home game and pays tribute to the heroic achievements of these citizens.
On Dec. 25, Christmas Day, Caleigh, Heather, Michael, Madison and Chloe made the trip into Boston.
"We had never been to a Celtics game before," Heather said.
Their inaugural trip to the TD Garden was one to remember. The family first got to meet and take photos with Celtics guard Kyrie Irving and Washington Wizards center Jason Smith.
Then, before the game started, in front of approximately 19,000 fans, Caleigh stood at center court as it was announced that she was that night’s Hero Among Us.
"I was as nervous as could be, but she walked out like a champ," Heather said.
As everyone in the arena heard of Caleigh’s story, Heather looked over at her daughter with pride.
"As a mom, knowing I’m raising good kids…I know she does have it in her to be a good person. We need more good people," Heather said.
Her older daughters haven’t been left out either, Heather said. Both have been extremely supportive of their sister.
When the Walpole police presented Caleigh with her award, Heather said they also commended Madison and Chloe for being positive role models to their younger sibling.
"Madison was rubbing her back and teary-eyed (when the award was received)," Heather said. "They have not been left out, everybody has been inclusive."
With so many new memories to add to the girls’ memory boxes, Heather said her hope is that, as her children grow, they continue to do good things in their community and that this event is one they will remember for the rest of their lives.
"It’s nice to know that the world works in good ways still," Heather said.