FENTON, Mo. – The heroic of efforts of a 13-year-old boy helped save the life of his father last December. For his quick thinking, Nate Ratliff is now earning national recognition as The Kids Wish Network 2020 Hero of the Year.
“I don’t feel like a hero,” Ratliff said. “I was just doing what everyone else would have done.”
Last December, he was on hike with his dad, Craig, in Lone Elk Park. Craig suddenly had a heart attack.
“I’m grabbing onto a tree, clutching my chest, trying to help him as much as he’s helped me, and having a savior and a guardian angel with you that day,” Craig said.
If it wasn’t for Nate quickly and calmly calling 911, Craig may not be here today.
“If he wasn’t there, these guys would have never been able to find me,” Craig said.
Tuesday morning, Nate thought his day was going to be simple. Go to football practice, tour the Fenton Fire House and take a nap.
The thing is, the tour wasn’t actually a tour.
“He has no idea what he’s coming here for, and he has no idea I’m going to present a check to him,” Tambra Faulk, director of the Kids Wish Network program, said.
The nationally recognized nonprofit Kids Wish Network was in Fenton to surprise Nate as its 2020 Hero of the Year. Faulk said she first saw the Ratliffs’ story on Nexstar sister station FOX 2; then she spoke to Nate.
“He’s not your typical 13-year-old,” she said. “I think he is wise beyond his years, and he’s going to do great things.”
While some 13-year-olds might go bonkers upon receiving a giant $5,000 check and winning a hero of the year award, Nate was Nate; as even keel as they come.
“It’s overwhelming,” he said. “(The check) is pretty big.”
Thankful and humbled, he already had an idea what he’s going to do with the money. After all, he’s a teenager.
“Sports gear and savings. My parents said they’ll match whatever I put towards a car, so that’s what I’m doing,” he said.
Emily said she’s always seen a special side of Nate and she’s glad everyone else gets to see it.
“I hope as time goes on and we reconcile our feelings about what happened six months ago a little bit more, that he can realize his role in everything and that he really is worthy of the title hero.”
Craig is happy to be alive and proud to call Nate his son.
“I love you. Thank you for standing by me and your mom, and family and friends,” Craig said.