A Farmersville teen’s quick thinking last summer earned her a special hero designation and a big check.
Kaydence Henslee,15, daughter of Matt and Rebecca Henslee, was selected as the Kids Wish Network Hero of the Year for 2021 for saving a little girl from drowning while on a family vacation in Orlando, Fla. last year.
In addition to her new “hero” designation for saving 4-year-old Haven, Kaydence will receive a check for $5,000 from the Kids Wish Network, a wish granting nonprofit for youth ages 3-18.
Kaydence was notified by Haven’s mom about the award via Zoom call Saturday, Aug. 20, while at home surrounded by her family and friends.
“The honor was a complete and total surprise and really took my breath away,” Kaydence said. “I didn’t do anything other than the right thing at the right moment… an act of kindness.”
When asked about her heroic efforts last summer, Kaydence said, “saving Haven happened more quickly than I realized.”
“We were just wrapping up a day of vacation with some time at the pool,” she said, adding that she didn’t think something “out of the ordinary” would happen that day until that moment she noticed Haven drowning as she was walking around the pool.
“I don’t even remember thinking I needed to do something, I just did it,” she said.
After the incident, the teen said several TV stations shared the story which caught the attention of the Kids Wish Network.
Tambra Fulk, programs manager for Kids Wish Network, said Kaydence was first nominated by her parents as a Hero of the Month in May 2021. The Hero of the Year is then picked from the pool of Heroes of the Month winners for the year.
“There are several ways a child can qualify for this award; a heroic act, loss of a sibling or parent, a parent that is undergoing cancer treatments or been diagnosed with a terminal illness, or a child of a deployed serviceman,” Fulk said, “We also like to honor the children that go through life altering circumstance with bravery and courage, which is based on the compelling story that is included with each nomination.”
Kaydence said she also had the opportunity to speak with Haven — who is now 5 and entering kindergarten — on the Zoom call.
“It’s amazing to know that Haven is still able to grow up, be a little girl and see the journey ahead of her,” she said.
“Really anyone could have done the right thing, but I am very grateful I was able to help her and getting recognized gives me a chance to encourage even more people to do the right thing.”
The teen said after their vacation last year, she took a CPR class along with her parents.