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10 Kids Who Proved to Be Real-Life Superheroes and Saved the Day

by Julie Henthorn
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

When we think of superheroes, the traditional comic-like characters often come to mind—those with superhuman strength, invisibility, the ability to fly, or superhuman speed. These heroes are able to channel their abilities at a moment’s notice to save a person, city, or even an entire universe from danger with ease.

In contrast, when we think of children, we typically do not equate them with the same heroic characteristics based on their small stature, limited physical abilities, and lack of certain understanding. As adults, we typically perceive that it is our responsibility to protect them from danger.

However, the children on this list proved that notion to be completely untrue. When suddenly placed amid adversity and danger, they were willing to take whatever steps necessary to assist those in need, some even willing to literally risk both life and limb.

Here are the stories of ten extraordinary children who proved to be real-life superheroes and saved the day.

Related: 10 Heroic Cats Who Saved Lives

10 Dillon Reeves

A hero’s lesson

Thirteen-year-old Dillon Reeves, a seventh grader at Lois E. Carter Middle School in Warren, Michigan, was riding the bus home on the afternoon of April 26, 2023. Little did he know that the ride on the bus that day would be anything but ordinary.

The unnamed female bus driver behind the wheel of Bus 46 attempted to cool herself off by waving her hat near her face but later contacted a dispatcher stating she was feeling dizzy and would need to pull over. She then requested another driver to pick up the schoolchildren. However, approximately 15 seconds later, the bus driver began shaking and losing consciousness, causing the bus to drift leftward off the road and into oncoming traffic.

While the other students on the bus were engrossed in their cell phones and listening to music, Dillon didn’t have a cell phone, which allowed him to be alert on the ride home and notice the bus driver in distress.

Dillon immediately got up from his seat, took the wheel, and slowly pushed on the brakes as he urged the other students to call 911. Thankfully, Dillon was able to safely bring the bus to a stop, avoiding an accident and saving all 60 students on board.

Once the bus had come to a stop, a good Samaritan who happened to be walking by boarded the bus and helped Dillon with the bus driver. Another woman who had previously been driving behind the bus also stopped to assist the students in exiting the bus. Paramedics arrived on the scene to treat the bus driver, who was later released from the hospital. The students were then placed on another bus and transported home.

On May 11, 2023, Dillon was honored by the mayor of Warren and given the key to the city and the opportunity to be police commissioner for a day. He was also presented with a Traffic Safety Hero Award by the Traffic Safety Association of Macomb County and given free vouchers for driver education classes. In addition to these honors, he was also treated to a complimentary dinner and a limousine ride.[1]

9 Owen Burns

13-year-old boy uses slingshot to save sister from suspected kidnapper

On May 10, 2023, Margaret Burns left her home in Alpena Township, Michigan, and went to visit a family member who lived down the street. Her son, 13-year-old Owen Burns, was in his bedroom playing video games, and her unnamed 8-year-old daughter was mushroom-hunting in the backyard.

Owen heard his sister scream but assumed she was simply goofing off with her friends. However, when he heard her let out a second scream, he realized his sister was in danger. Owen looked out his bedroom window and saw an unknown male who had come through the woods and onto their property. The attempted kidnapper had put his hands over the 8-year-old’s mouth, had his arm around her waist, and was attempting to pull her into the woods.

Owen sprung into action, located a slingshot on his bed that his mother had bought on clearance for $3, and grabbed a marble and a rock. He then opened his bedroom window and fired at his sister’s attacker. After the attacker had been struck in between the eyes and in the chest, Owen’s sister was able to break free and run into the house. The attacker, however, fled into the woods. The siblings then frantically called their mother, who raced home and contacted the police.

Officers later located the unnamed 17-year-old suspect hiding at a gas station with a marble-induced goose egg on his head and injuries that were consistent with the slingshot strikes. The suspect confessed that he had “planned on severely beating the victim.”

The suspect was charged as an adult with attempted kidnapping/child enticement, one count of attempted assault to do great bodily harm less than murder, and one count of assault and battery.[2]

8 Bridger Walker

7-year-old boy who rescued his sister from dog attack receives VIP yacht treatment in South Florida

On July 9, 2020, six-year-old Bridger Walker of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and his four-year-old sister went to a friend’s house, and the three children later decided to go into the backyard to play. However, they were not alone in the yard as there were also two dogs, one of which Bridger stated he was told was a “nice” dog, and the other was a “mean” dog.

When the “mean” dog—a one-year-old German shepherd mix—charged toward Bridger’s sister, Bridger jumped in between his sister and the dog in an attempt to shield her from danger. As the dog latched onto Bridger’s cheek, he told his sister to run, and when the dog had finally let go, he rushed his sister to safety. Unfortunately, by this time, Bridger had been brutally attacked by the dog and bitten multiple times on the face and head.

Thankfully, the dog’s owner was able to finally secure the dog and apply pressure to Bridger’s wounds until first responders arrived. Bridger underwent a two-hour surgery and received more than 90 stitches to treat his injuries, and the dog responsible for the attack was later put down.

However, even in light of the severe injuries he sustained, Bridger wished no harm upon the dog who attacked him and remained confident in his decision to save his sister, saying, “If someone had to die, I thought it should be me.”

On July 12, 2020, Bridger’s aunt shared his story on Instagram, which received more than 1.5 million likes and gained attention from multiple celebrities such as Mark Ruffalo, Tom Holland, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Octavia Spencer, Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Zachary Levi, Chris Hemsworth, and Bo Jackson.

Musician Bret Michaels sent Bridger an autographed guitar; Tom Holland invited Bridger to visit the set of Spiderman: No Way Home. And Chris Evans sent Bridger a signed Captain America shield.

The World Boxing Council also made Bridger an honorary champion “for his courageous actions that represent the absolute best values of humanity,” sent him a championship belt, and also later added a new weight class to heavyweight boxing, which they named Bridgerweight in Bridger’s honor.[3]

7 Bryce Brooks

Atlanta 16-year-old dies rescuing children from strong currents in Florida, family says

Sixteen-year-old Bryce Brooks of Atlanta, Georgia, was vacationing in Pensacola, Florida, with his family as well as other families he had grown up with. Unfortunately, what should have been a fun family getaway took a tragic turn.

On April 6, 2023, the group was in Perdido Key when Bryce and a group of friends “witnessed four other younger kids who they did not know being pulled by the current.” The three young men jumped in to save the kids while three others went to get the adults.

Sadly, as Bryce attempted to save the children, he was pulled under. At that time, a close family friend named Charles Johnson II, whom Bryce referred to as “Uncle Chuck,” went into the water to save Bryce. Although Johnson was a strong swimmer, he, too, was pulled under.

Strangers were able to eventually pull both Bryce and Johnson from the water, and they were airlifted to the hospital but later pronounced dead.

While both families were naturally devastated by the losses, Bryce’s parents were proud of the sacrifice he made, stating, “Bryce is a hero. He literally saved the lives of four kids at the expense of his own.”[4]

6 Isla Glaser

4-year-old hailed as hero for calling 911 and saving mom

On December 6, 2019, four-year-old Isla Glaser was in her Franklin Township, New Jersey, home along with her two-year-old sister and one-year-old twin brothers when her mother, Haley, collapsed in the kitchen due to a bacterial infection. Isla tried to wake her mother but was unsuccessful. Thankfully, she knew just what to do—she located her mother’s cell phone and dialed 911.

Isla informed the dispatcher that her “Mommy fall down, and she can’t talk.” She then answered a series of questions and provided her address before informing the dispatcher that her father was at work, and she was at home with her three younger siblings. Isla stayed on the phone with the dispatcher until help arrived.

When first responders arrived at the home, the door was locked, but they were able to talk to Isla through the door and instruct her to get a chair in order to unlock the door and let them in. Not only did she follow their instructions perfectly, but Isla was also able to quiet down their barking dogs. As first responders tended to Haley, Isla even managed to feed her siblings breakfast, all while assuring them that “Mommy was going to be okay.”

Haley was taken to a local hospital, where she was treated for four days before being released home.

For her “brave and heroic efforts,” the Franklin Township Police Department presented Isla with a few small gifts, such as a pen, a limited edition challenge coin, a frisbee, and an official hat. She also received a badge as an honorary police officer and a certificate of commendation and was given a tour of the police station.[5]

5 Lexi Shymanski

5-year-old girl honoured for saving mom, brother

On June 8, 2015, Angela Shymanski was driving home to Prince George, British Columbia, from Calgary with her two children—five-year-old Lexi and 10-week-old Peter—who were napping on the trip home. When the family was approximately nine miles (15 kilometers) outside of Jasper, it was believed that Angela fell asleep behind the wheel, causing their SUV to careen down a 40-foot (12-meter) embankment before slamming into a tree and resting on its roof.

Lexi was later awoken by her brother Peter crying. Unfortunately, Angela had been knocked unconscious during the impact of the crash, and with Lexi unable to wake her, the little girl knew she had to get help.

Miraculously, Lexi was able to unbuckle the five-point harness on her car seat and push the airbag out of the way before kicking the jammed door open and climbing out of the vehicle. She then climbed up the embankment barefoot and began waving at cars in a desperate plea for help. Thankfully, Loni and Jeremiah Jirik saw Lexi on the side of the road and stopped to help.

Jeremiah went down the embankment and located Angela, who, by that time, was beginning to regain consciousness, and she told him about Peter. Jeremiah was able to free Peter from his car seat and get him to safety. However, without having clear reception, Loni was unable to reach 911 and also began flagging down cars. Fortunately, Lise Lord and Richard Nowicki stopped. Because Nowicki was a previous paramedic, he was able to stabilize Angela until they could finally get through to 911.

When paramedics arrived on the scene, they could only reach the SUV by using ropes to navigate the steep terrain, the same terrain that five-year-old Lexi had miraculously climbed barefoot. The family was taken by ambulance to a local hospital and later airlifted to a facility in Edmonton.

Angela suffered fractures in her neck and upper back, broken ribs, and internal injuries, spending nearly three weeks in the hospital. Peter underwent surgery for brain bleeding and swelling and spent six days in the hospital. Lexi escaped with only a scratch on her chin and a sore neck. It was also later discovered that Angela had a heart condition she was unaware of, which caused her heart to stop and led to the crash on that June day.

The Royal Canadian Humane Association awarded Lexi a Bronze Medal for Bravery, given that “Her heroic efforts certainly saved her mother’s and brother’s life.”[6]

4 Dakota Duke

7-year-old saves younger brother after fall from 100-ft cliff in Oklahoma

On February 25, 2023, three-year-old Riley Duke, seven-year-old Dakota Duke, and their sister Brylynn were hiking with their grandmother on Rock Creek Trail in the Chickasaw Recreation Area located in Sulphur, Oklahoma.

Unfortunately, as the group was heading back down the trail, the family’s dog stepped down onto a ledge on the side of the cliff, and Riley followed, attempting to grab the dog. Although the family was unsure whether “he slipped, fell, or tripped,” Riley went off the edge of the rock, plummeting 100 feet (30 meters) into 15°F (-9.4°C) water.

Without a second thought, Dakota rushed down to pull his brother from the water. While Dakota didn’t have enough strength to get Riley all the way up, he was able to get his head out of the water as the grandmother called for help.

Fortunately, park rangers were able to get to the boys within 10 minutes, and first responders later arrived on the scene, locating and treating the boys all within 16 minutes. Both boys were taken to local hospitals before being transferred to a children’s hospital, Riley by ambulance and Dakota by plane.

Riley suffered head and face injuries, two broken ribs, and a fractured wrist. Dakota sustained lacerations on his forehead and the back of his head and knee injuries. Dakota was released from the hospital on February 27, 2023, and the family’s Go Fund Me page later released an update on March 22, 2023, stating Riley was back home as well.[7]

3 Tyler Moon

How a little boy fought through agonising pain to save his father’s life | 60 Minutes Australia

On May 8, 2004, seven-year-old Tyler Moon and his father, 39-year-old David Moon, had gone for a regular Saturday ride on their quad bike in Milton, New South Wales. Unfortunately, during the ride, they hit a wedge of wood, causing the bike to jolt. The two were thrown over the handlebars, and the quad landed on top of them.

The two were able to free themselves, but as they began walking halfway back to their home, David collapsed due to the critical internal injuries he sustained and was unable to go any further.

While Tyler had suffered seven broken ribs, and his lungs were on the verge of collapsing, he heroically walked 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) home in order to tell his mother, Gail, that “Daddy told me to tell you he needs an ambulance,” before collapsing at her feet.

David and Tyler were taken to Milton Hospital and later transported to a hospital in Sydney via CareFlight, where they stayed for 10 days before being discharged.

Tyler later received a bravery award from the Royal Humane Society of New South Wales.[8]

2 Shyanne Defeudis

11-year old Molalla girl delivers baby brother after mom goes into labor at home

Eleven-year-old Shyanne Defeudis of Molalla, Oregon, desperately wanted to see the birth of her baby brother Kobe. However, with COVID-19 restrictions in place which only allowed one person 16 years of age or older to be in labor and delivery, she didn’t think it was possible. In a turn of events, not only did she get her wish, but she also got to be a delivery hero.

Around 5 am on April 21, 2021, Shyanne’s mother, Jordan Eck, began experiencing stomach pain and nausea, but being more than two weeks away from her due date, she didn’t give the symptoms much thought. Yet approximately two hours later, Jordan’s water broke. Eck ran to the bottom of the stairs and began screaming for Shyanne, who, at that time, was still asleep.

Shyanne then dialed 911 and informed the dispatcher that her mother was in labor. Given that EMTs would not arrive at the home in time to deliver the baby, the dispatcher guided Shyanne through the process. By the time Jordan gave her second push, Shyanne was able to grab the baby’s shoulders and bring Kobe into the world firsthand.

EMTs arrived on the scene just in time to cut the umbilical cord. As they were loading Jordan and Kobe into the ambulance, Kobe’s father, Patrick Fauth, also arrived and was able to ride with them to the hospital, where both mom and baby were given a clean bill of health.[9]

1 Anaiah Rucker

Surprising A Girl Who Saved Her Sister’s Life! | | Extreme Makeover: Home Edition | Season 9

Andrea Taylor stood on the porch of her Madison, Georgia, home and watched her two daughters, nine-year-old Anaiah Rucker and five-year-old Camry, catch the bus each morning. However, one morning in February 2011, Taylor witnessed a terrible accident unfold that would forever change her family.

It was raining that particular morning, and Anaiah was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Anaiah thought the coast was clear, so the two sisters held hands as they began to cross the road, unaware of the truck that was heading for them. In an act of “sisterly love and selfless courage,” Anaiah shoved Camry out of the way and took the impact of the truck herself.

Taylor raced to Anaiah, but the little girl wasn’t breathing and had no pulse. Thankfully, within a few minutes, the school bus arrived, and Loretta Berryman, the bus driver, began performing CPR until Anaiah eventually took a much-anticipated breath.

Anaiah suffered a broken neck and a damaged spleen and lost a kidney. Additionally, both of her legs were broken, and since the left leg wasn’t getting any blood flow, it was later amputated.

After three weeks in the hospital, Anaiah returned home to find neighbors lining the streets to cheer for her. Bus drivers, teachers, and school students all worked to raise money for the family, and Anaiah even got to meet Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic basketball team.

In July 2011, the family was featured on the reality show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, in which a new wheelchair-accessible home was built for the family. Anaiah was also given a four-year scholarship from Berry College.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen