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My Unsung Hero: Strangers on the plane

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Time now for "My Unsung Hero," our series from the team at Hidden Brain. "My Unsung Hero" tells the stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else.

Today's story comes from Kate Baker. About 20 years ago, Kate, her husband Bob and their 2-year-old son, Neil, were on a flight to Europe. All of a sudden, Neil developed a fever and began having a seizure.

KATE BAKER: The flight attendants were going up and down the aisle asking anyone if they were a doctor, if they could take a look at him. Then one of the flight attendants asked my husband, who was holding Neil, is he breathing? And he said, just barely. I was standing in the aisle. Well, when I heard those words, I think I must have gone into shock because I couldn't feel anything, and I couldn't speak.

Then I noticed three women passengers get out of their seats and come toward me. They were Muslim women wearing the hijab, and they came to me and put their arms around me. And they stood there with me with their arms around me until the flight attendants told us that we should move to the front of the plane and take a seat up there.

We arrived in Amsterdam and went directly to the clinic. They couldn't find anything wrong with Neil. And by that time, he was fine. But we got on another plane in a few hours and went back home to New Jersey. We went immediately to a pediatrician, who discovered that Neil had just had an ear infection. And he had a seizure because his temperature spiked very rapidly on the plane. So Neil was fine. We treated him for the ear infection, and everything was fine.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BAKER: But I never forgot those women and how supportive they were. I grew up in a place where there were no Muslims, very few people of color, and everyone spoke English. So that encounter was very new for me. I will never forget them and what they did for me. We may not speak the same language or share the same beliefs or religion, but none of that really matters to me because we can connect on a very deep, human level. So if I ever saw those women again, I would just say, thank you so much, and I love you.

KELLY: Kate Baker of Middlesex, N.J.

You can find more stories from "My Unsung Hero" wherever you get your podcasts. And to share the story of your unsung hero, record a voice memo on your phone and email it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.