A lot of kids admire Bob Edwards, mostly due to his work over the years with his church and youth organizations.
In the past, Edwards and his friends have handed out free bikes to young people in Bellport, and provided fresh hot bread to families in need.
Getting the occasional, random hug on the street is nothing new or different for Edwards.
But there’s one teenager at Bellport High School who’s especially fond of him now. That’s Ryan Conway, a special needs student who went into a panic on Oct. 28 after getting food lodged in his throat during lunch.
Edwards sprang to the boy’s rescue after noticing him struggling near a water fountain and was able to successfully perform the Heimlich maneuver on Ryan. “I told him don’t be nervous,” Edwards recalled. “I bent him over, I made a big fist, and with two quick jerks toward the bottom of his stomach, the food just came out.”
“We’re close now,” he continued. “He comes to me every day and thanks me for saving his life. The first week he was telling everybody, ‘Hey this guy saved my life!’
“Yeah, he’s a good kid.”
Edwards’ actions were recognized by the district at Wednesday night’s school board meeting.
“We have some wonderful responders at the high school and none better than Mr. Edwards here,” said Bellport High School principal Timothy Hogan. “He’s a wonderful employee and has been a very good friend of the school district.”
For Edwards part, he said there’s nothing he does with recognition in mind.
But he always has his faith in God in mind.
“I’m a Godly guy,” he said, explaining he believes God put him in this world for very specific reasons — and when his chores are done, that’s when he’ll be called back.
It’s fair to say that accepting a certificate and applause didn’t come natural to Edwards at Wednesday night’s school board meeting.
“Everybody’s been patting me on the back,” he said later. “I didn’t do anything for that. I work with a great bunch of guys over there. The staff and everybody. I’m just really happy.”
Photo: Bellport responder Bob Edwards accepts a certificate of recognition from South Country school board president Chris Picini Wednesday night. (Michael White)