It takes a Village to make heroes

County celebrates two who went through Children's Village

County celebrates two who went through Children's Village


HAGERSTOWN -- Lots of children toy with the idea of being a hero.

What child hasn't played make-believe games of cops and robbers, or imagined adventures with superhero action figures?

For two Washington County boys, dreams of heroism became a reality.

Brendon McCusker, 10, of Hancock, got off the bus after school in May 2007 and found that his grandmother, Jean McCusker, was not waiting for him at the bridge where she usually was. He went to check for her in her home and found smoke rolling from the house. Brendon ran to get a neighbor to call 911.

Rescue workers found Brendon's grandmother in her backyard, leaning against a tree with an unrelated medical emergency. She had been cooking eggs on the stove when she went outside to water the flowers around her pool and collapsed.

Brendon's quick action brought medical assistance for his grandmother and averted a house fire.


Tanner Shoemaker, 8, of Hagerstown, took control following his mother's head-over-heels fall down 13 steps last March.

Tanner's mother, Cindy Shoemaker, said she has a condition called transient global amnesia, which causes her to pass out and lose memory. While she lay at the bottom of the stairs in a state of confusion, Tanner called 911, calmly answered questions and followed directions to care for his mother until help arrived.

The two boys had something more than composure in common. Each had attended Children's Village of Washington County as second-graders, and each said they used skills learned there during their emergency situations.

Brendon and Tanner were inducted into the Children's Village Hall of Fame Saturday during a ceremony at the organization's 17th annual Kids Alive Fest. The boys arrived at the event in an ambulance, with lights flashing and sirens blaring. Members of the Hagerstown Professional Firefighters Local 1605 Honor Guard escorted them to the podium, where they received plaques.

Children's Village in a nonprofit organization that trains elementary school-aged children to make informed safety decisions and to prevent injuries. Rochelle Morrell, executive director of Children's Village, said the organization serves more than 2,000 children each year, including every second-grader in Washington County.

"I learned that you don't be freaking out," Brendon said. "You just go tell somebody and call 911."

Cindy Shoemaker said she was impressed by Tanner's knowledge and poise following her fall down the steps.

"I cracked my head and I didn't know anything, I was so confused," she said. "(Tanner) answered all their questions -- 'Is she conscious? Is she breathing?' It was unreal the questions he could answer from being (at Children's Village). It's really cool."

Dignitaries including state Sen. Donald F. Munson, Del. LeRoy E. Myers, Jr. and Hagerstown City Councilman Martin Brubaker attended the ceremony.

"The fact that these kids knew what to do based on coming here is incredible," Munson said.

Brubaker called Children's Village "an asset unique to our area."

Kids Alive Fest also served as an open house fundraising event, giving community members an opportunity to tour the Children's Village facilities off Mount Aetna Road in Hagerstown. Activities included automobile extrication and K-9 demonstrations, car seat safety checks, mini-car rides, a radar gun contest and a fire hose spraying challenge.

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