(CNN) – A Saturday afternoon bout at McDonald’s turned into a heroic act for a Minnesota teen.
When 15-year-old Sydney Raleigh arrived for her shift Saturday at McDonald’s in Eden Prairie, a few miles south of Minneapolis, she didn’t expect to save someone’s life and turn into a heroine.
Sydney has been working at McDonald’s for about seven months and told CNN that this was just another weekend routine. “The day was pretty normal: making coffee, preparing drinks. As we entered rush hour, everything was normal,” he added.
After giving the customer some of her food in the car, Sydney walks out the window to tell her the rest is on the way. At the time, Sydney noticed that the woman was choking on a piece of chicken.
“She was coughing like crazy, and I noticed she was vomiting,” Sydney told CNN. “His daughter was in the passenger seat and she looked so scared. I knew right away ‘Oh no, she’s drowning.'”
Sydney asked her manager and the woman’s daughter to call 911 as she quickly jumped out the window to help the woman.
Sydney told CNN she took a Red Cross babysitting class at the age of 11, where she learned the Heimlich maneuver, and “all that training started right away.”
The maneuver didn’t work the first few times Sydney tried it, so I called a passerby near McDonald’s for help.
“We worked together and were able to successfully get the food out of his throat.” Sydney said.
Finally, the solid mass was free and the woman was able to breathe again. Then the woman was in shock but very grateful to Sydney.
Rewarding a young employee at McDonald’s
Two officers from the Edina Police Department came to the scene to check on the woman and brought a reward to the teenager.
They said, ‘Congratulations, you’re a life saver; you’re a hero,’ Sidney said. They gave him $100 from a fund they use for people who are doing well in the community.
It was the first time Sydney had to perform the maneuver, but she knew how serious it was and should always be prepared.
Nearby were her parents, Tom and Stephanie, going to pick her up.
“There was an ambulance and a police car sitting there and I looked at my wife and said, ‘Please tell me that’s not a thing for Sydney,'” Tom told CNN. “And sure enough Sydney is sitting outside waiting for us to pick her up and say, ‘That’s what happened today.'”
Tom also told CNN that Sydney had autism when she was younger.
Autism is a group of conditions characterized by challenges in communication and social skills. “We were always worried that was going to be a challenge for her, and she did her 180 degree turn,” Tom told CNN. “Actually, it was a blessing and a gift at this time. All the things we were worried about never happened.”
The employer also understands how important your actions are.
“We are extremely proud of Sydney and its quick and heroic actions over the weekend to help one of our valued customers,” the owner and operator told CNN. Paul Ostergaard in a written statement.
“Sydney truly embodies what it means to be a hero, and we are incredibly fortunate to have her as such a valued employee at our Eden Prairie Restaurant location. We are excited to see all the well-deserved recognition she has received from the community and will continue to celebrate. His courageous efforts literally leap from Car window to provide assistance to a customer in need.”
CNN’s Catherine Dillinger contributed to this story.