by Effie Fotiadis
At the young age of six I had a horrible accident that could have taken my life. It was a “snow day” from school that cold February morning — that is, there was so much snow that school was cancelled. My family and I decided to go sledding.
We were having such a blast — going down the big hills, swooping from left to right, and gaining a lot of speed. I was amazed at the sledding tricks the older kids were doing on the hill. After a while, I finally got the courage to try the “big” hill myself. I convinced my mother I knew what I was doing, and walked all the way up the hill.
I stared down the hill, totally full of excitement, took a running start, jumped on my saucer sled and took off. But the hill was way too much for me to handle. Halfway down the hill I lost total control — not realizing I was getting closer and closer to the pond at the bottom.
Closing my eyes as my sled zoomed downward, I felt myself — and the sled — leave the ground. I was airborne. I held on tight as I flew off a huge drainpipe and into the ice-covered pond. The four layers of clothing I had on made it difficult for me to move, and I sank into the icy water.
When I thought the water had taken me under forever, all of a sudden, I felt a pair of hands grab my hood. I was ripped from the ice by an older gentleman who was at the bottom of the hill watching his children. He got me out of the water and began helping me take off my freezing clothes. I had no idea what was going on because I was also frozen with fear.
I heard my mom’s voice in the distance crying out my name. As a crowd gathered around me offering their warm clothes, the gentleman who saved me was pushed to the side. At the time, I didn’t realize what that stranger did for me — but if he wasn’t there, who knows what else could have happened.
11 years later in my high school English class, a girl my age began to tell a story about how her dad had saved a young girl’s life while she was sledding. I was shocked. The story matched mine exactly. I didn’t want to interrupt in class but as soon as the bell rang I was asking questions. She could not believe I was that little girl. He had never known my name, and we had never known who he was.
I was so happy to be able to meet him 11 years later and give him the thanks I never could before. He gave me the rest of my life, and I am still grateful.