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katelyn ibarra

Recently my life was changed forever after I did a simple deed that I would have expected to be a no brainer for anyone to do. On the evening of March 29, 2016 my family and I were going out to dinner when a crash occurred a few cars in front of us. This crash occurred between a city bus and a small SUV. After pulling forward a ways to a safe place, we stopped. My dad immediately got out of our car and ran to the sight of the crash. My mom called a friend she thought was on the bus to check on her. I called dispatch. After hanging up the phone, I jumped out of the car with the first aid kit and a blanket. I ran to the car, saw my dad checking on the guy in the car, then he told me to go to the bus. I went to the bus, tried to yell up to the bus driver, but because she was in shock and crying like anyone in that situation would be, I had trouble communicating with her. A lady who also stopped to help suggested I go to the other side of the bus where the door was. I did, but there was really no door to be found. The front of the bus was smashed in all the way to the seats. There was no way for me to communicate with the passengers without climbing up the embankment and talking through the broken windshield, so that is exactly what I did. After a few tries of climbing up the slippery and muddy mountain side I made it up. I tried to communicate, but it was hard so I decided to crawl into the bus. I then gave out gauze and tissues to the bleeding. I asked my mom for ice packs but we did not have any so another lady and her filled plastic baggies with snow and handed them up to me to help with swelling. I stayed in the bus talking, comforting, and reminding passengers to keep the ice and gauze on their injuries till the paramedics arrived. I was the last one to leave the bus and I brought belongings of the passengers to the ambulances they were put on. There were many injuries and they were all taken to the hospital. Only one bus passenger spent the night, but many of the others are still suffering from complications today. The driver of the car was seriously injured and he was immediately rushed into surgery to save his life.
On the night of the crash, I saw people from all characteristic spectrums. I saw the people who didn't slow down at all and splashed me with slush and snow when I was trying to cross the highway to get to the crash, I saw the people that said I have a weak stomach but can I still help you somehow, and then there was the others that helped like I did. In my mind anyone and everyone would have done what I did, but on that night and the year to follow I learned that that is not so much the case. As I was once told, there are ordinary angels all over the place, it's just a matter of them showing themselves. The biggest thought I can remember in the moment of deciding what to do was if I was a victim in this crash, what would I want? All my actions after that were based on what I thought would have helped me if I was hurt, and that's what I did. If I were in a car accident I would want someone to help me!

After that night, all the attention I got for this was way out of my comfort zone. I received the Girl Scout's Meritorious Service award and their Medal of Honor. In addition to that every time I received one of these awards the paper would write an article about it, I also got interviewed by a local news channel twice, and it would be all over social media every time. I felt like whenever I talked about the series of events that unfolded that day I was bragging, but that changed last month.

I was asked to travel to Washington D.C. to receive the Young Hero's Citizens Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. This trip was an amazing experience! So humbling!! I went to many monuments, I went to Arlington National Cemetery, the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall military base, and the Capitol. In fact, I got to eat dinner at the Library of Congress. We also stayed at the Ritz-Carlton which was insanely nice. I met such a sweet and inspiring lady named Molly. She was awarded a Citizen's Medal of Honor as well after she stopped a school shooting at the school she works for. On this trip, I realized there is a way to talk about my story while staying humble. Getting the award wasn't the main point, the main point was showing your character by spreading kindness, helping others, and passing on good qualities. All the men that have received Medals of Honor are so humble and nice. They will tell you about their award stories, but they talk so simple and kind. They would never shame anyone while telling their stories and they wouldn't get worked up about the events either.

Men and women today and throughout history have sacrificed their lives everyday to keep us free. They are the reasons we are here today and can live the lifestyles we live now. When you see a veteran make sure to always thank them and to respect them.

I'm still not really sure what to think about all this, but I'm definitely more comfortable about it now. You never know how your life can change in such a split second, both for the better or the worse.

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