Heroes come in all shapes and sizes

Published 7:51 am Saturday, July 24, 2010

WOODLAND—There is someone special watching over the residents of Woodland Olney Apartments.

Michael “Mike” Harrington Jr. seems like an ordinary seven year old—bright-eyed, precocious and has ample energy to spare as he buzzes around his yard on his bicycle.

Mike, along with his mom, Wendy and dad, Michael Sr., live next door to the apartment complex that accommodates senior citizens.

The Harringtons moved to Woodland three years ago from Virginia Beach, Va. It’s not uncommon to spot the home-schooled, rising second grader visiting and chatting with his neighbors on the sprawling lawn that separates his house from the apartments.

“(I go over there) to make sure they’re okay and they have enough stuff,” he said. “(I like visiting) because some of them are real nice and they like me.”

However, it’s the extraordinary actions Mike has taken place in the past that has the tenants of the apartment complex talking as well as believing they have their own little guardian looking out for them.

Approximately three weeks ago, Mike and his mom were reading in the living room. Mike said he got up to use the bathroom when he spotted Columbus Pike, a resident he frequently visits, lying on a concrete sidewalk not far from where residents gather to enjoy the outdoors. Wendy noted the heat index that day was extremely high.

“He just stood up and said, ‘Mom, Mr. Pike’s laying on the ground! Call 911! Call 911!’” Wendy recalled. “So, I got up and it just didn’t look right.”

She sprung into action grabbing the telephone to call 911. Mike and his mom ran to help Pike, who is in his 80s and suffers from heart disease and high blood pressure.

“Me and mom don’t know how he fell, but we know he did stop breathing twice,” said Mike.

“Before the ambulance got there he stopped breathing—heart stopped—everything,” Wendy said. “I reached down and his heart was not beating. He woke up both times and when they (the ambulance) got there he was awake.”

Before emergency personnel arrived, Mike ran back to the house to call 911 again and also got a pillow to place under Mr. Pike’s head.

Wendy said Pike was hospitalized for a while, but is now back in his apartment at Woodland Olney, though still under the weather.

After the emergency, Mike regularly visited the apartments to see how Mr. Pike was doing. The young man said he’s seen Mr. Pike sitting outside three times.

“(After what happened) I’ve told him (Mike) that when he goes over there to ask them if they’re doing okay and if they need water,” said Wendy. “I told him you keep an eye on them.”

Residents of the apartments said they appreciate Mike for what he’s done and noted this isn’t the first time the child has helped them out.

Maggie Cartwright said one night she was locked out of the building when Mike alerted his parents to the situation.

“I was a beating on that door and a beating on that door and he got his daddy to come over and help me get in,” she remembered.

“Her hands were all red from beating on the door,” Mike said.

The Harringtons kept Cartwright company until someone could get there to let her in.

In the few months Mary Ainsworth, along with her husband, Danny, has lived at the apartments they have come to know the seven-year-old fairly quickly.

“He yells everybody’s name as he’s riding by (on his bike) and says ‘hello’ to everybody,” said Mrs. Ainsworth. “Everybody knows who he is, that’s for sure.”

She continued that Mike has saved a couple of the residents at Woodland Olney and should be acknowledged for it.

Mr. Ainsworth said Mike knows no fear of anyone.

“In ways, he’s very wise to be an innocent kid,” he said. “He’s a credit to the neighborhood. I think he’s a kid you need to watch, he might be a kid that ends up being something.”

Another resident, Carolina Gilliam, commended Mike for his actions as well.

“It was nice he did that,” she simply said.

Gilliam said Mr. Pike has expressed that he would personally like to thank Mike when he gets well.

Kay Byrum, a certified nursing assistant that works in the apartment building, said it’s good for the residents to have Mike around.

“It’s good for a place like this to have a child that will acknowledge things like that, because a lot of children won’t do that—a lot of children would be scared,” she said. “I think that was pretty amazing what he did. I feel like if he hadn’t done what he did it wouldn’t have been a good outcome (for Mr. Pike).”

“I’m very proud of him,” said Wendy. “Normal seven-year-olds just don’t do this. …He’s very caring person and if you look sad he’ll ask you what’s wrong. He’s always wanting to help, always wanting to do something.”

“I know why because I’m Buzz Lightyear!” Mike quipped.

Mike said he when he grows up he wants to be a fireman “because you get to spray water and save people from the fire.”

No matter what his future holds, in the present Mike is proving heroes come in all shapes and sizes.