RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Despite a debilitating disorder, a Henrico woman jumps into action and saves a teenager who nearly drowned. Today, Red Cross called her a hero.
Melissa Bumbalough said she'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. She has chronic fibromyalgia, but that didn't stop her from running to the aid of a dying boy. The 14-year-old doesn't remember much about the ordeal, but is grateful Bumbalough was there when he needed her.
Hugs for Kajuan Johnson and his mother, Linda Knight. Bumbalough is no longer a stranger, but a dear friend.
"You all are going to make me cry," said Bumbalough.
Bumbalough walked in to a surprise round of applause by the Red Cross.
"You're our hero," said Reggie Gordon, Red Cross CEO.
She received the agency's Extraordinary Action Award for saving Johnson's life. The two first met Memorial Day weekend at the Tree House apartments where they both live. That particular moment is a blur for Johnson.
"I jumped in the pool and I couldn't swim," said Johnson.
His mother had just turned her back. She said Johnson may have hit his side on the way in. His brother found him on the pool bottom.
"He had no life," said Linda Knight, Johnson's mom.
Bumbalough, who almost didn't make it to the pool that day, walked in on Knight's nightmare. When Bumbalough visited the pool, she saw Johnson was out of the water. He wasn't moving, she started CPR. A skill she hadn't used, but knew since 1988.
"I realized at some point that Linda was right there and as a mother I couldn't imagine what she was going through, "said Bumbalough.
"She just kept doing it and I'm looking at her saying, 'Oh my God. He's not going to live,'" said Knight.
Bumbalough has chronic fibromyalgia. A condition that causes pain and stiffness of muscles, tendons and joints. The rescue put a strain on her health. Bumbalough said she has few more weeks in her own recovery.
"I would do it again. I would do it all over again. It was worth the pain," said Bumbalough.
Johnson and his mom received vouchers for free CPR lessons. A skill Bumbalough said everyone should know.
"To have the basic knowledge to save a life. You never know when it could be your child, your grandchild, or a parent or (A stranger?) or a stranger," said Bumbalough.
"(Do you see her as a hero?) Yes," said Johnson.
"I told Kajuan, no thanks was necessary just pay it forward," said Bumbalough.
Johnson will be a ninth grader in the fall and said he wants to become a firefighter some day.