In September 2019, cheerleader Tyra Winters was participating in her high school’s homecoming parade. The teenager joined a number of her classmates on board a float, which was traveling down a packed street. However, as the celebrations continued, she caught sight of a youngster in the crowd who needed help.
Like most other teenagers across the country, students in Rockwall, Texas, prepared for their annual homecoming event in the fall of 2019. These celebrations have been a staple in America for over 100 years now, with Missouri hosting the very first homecoming in 1911. Since then, a number of traditions have been adhered to by the following generations.
One of those traditions is the homecoming parade, as students put together their own floats for the event. Each of those floats will reflect the overall “theme” of that year’s celebration, ahead of hitting the streets. So on that note, Winters and her classmates followed suit for their annual gathering.
At the time of the parade, the cheerleaders from Rockwall High School came together in and around their float. As for Winters, she was aboard the vehicle when it started moving along the road. And from her elevated position, the teenager was able to spot a toddler in danger on the sidewalk, prompting her to act.
For a lot of individuals across the United States, their high school years represented an intriguing period in their respective lives. Indeed, whether they were focusing on a specific sport or diving into a particular subject, this was the final stage in some people’s education. But that’s not all, though.
A number of students might struggle to find their place at high school as well, adding to the challenges that already await them. Yet for Tyra Winters, that certainly wasn’t the case. She was a senior at Rockwall High School in September 2019 and boasted plenty of accolades for her work.
For you see, Winters was one of the school’s head cheerleaders at that point. Alongside that, she’d also been named as a four-time All-American in the field too, suggesting that she had a lot of talent. As for the art of cheerleading itself, it’s been around in America since the 19th Century.
As a concept, mass cheering started in 1877, with the students at Princeton University devising their own chant while watching the college football team. Over the next few years, they paved the way for cheerleading as we know it today alongside the University of Minnesota. Thanks to them, it’s become hugely popular across the world.
In 2007, about 1.5 million cheerleaders were said to be operating in America. That same year, officials also claimed that over 100,000 individuals were taking part in countries outside of the U.S.. The number itself included stats from nations like Germany, New Zealand, Japan, China and Great Britain.
The numbers have no doubt grown in the 12 years since then, with Winters playing her part in Rockwall. As for her school, Rockwall High School has developed a real reputation in recent times, boasting some impressive accolades. On the academic side of things, it’s believed that 98 percent of their students complete their studies successfully.
However, Rockwall has an equally impressive record when it comes to sports and athletics. In fact, you can trace that success all the way back to 1963, when the school’s football team secured a state championship. Over 50 years later, the 2015 side went on to reach an equally significant milestone, going unbeaten throughout a district campaign.
Away from the football, Rockwall’s other sports teams have enjoyed plenty of success as well. For instance, the high school’s wrestlers picked up back-to-back state titles in 2001 and 2002. Meanwhile, the girls’ basketball side also earned a state championship of their own back in 2007, winning every game that term.
Not to be outdone, the girls’ gymnastics team at Rockwall secured another state title for the school in 2017 too. So with that in mind, Winters and her fellow cheerleaders have had a lot to smile about in the last few years. But off the field, she had something else to focus on heading into the fall of 2019.
For you see, Winter was set to join her fellow cheerleaders for her high school’s homecoming parade in September 2019. When the day finally arrived, she stepped aboard a float for the event. As for the celebration itself, if you’re wondering why it’s so special in the U.S., here are a few reasons.
Like we previously mentioned, homecoming has been an American tradition for a very long time now. The event celebrates past students coming back to their home turf, where they attended high school or college. The parade is just one aspect of the function, with several other things happening as well.
For instance, a homecoming king and queen are usually named around the time of the celebration. These particular students are more often than not in the last year of their education, whether that be in high school or at a university. But that’s not all, though, as we’re about to find out.
Homecoming is also marked by a special game of football that involves the school’s team. This gathering is seen as the centerpiece of the entire celebration, drawing local fans to the stadiums. Yet it doesn’t signal the end of the function, with one last event capping things off later on.
The homecoming dance usually brings proceedings to a close, as students are invited to continue their celebrations together. In some instances, this event is referred to as the “fall prom” due to its similarities with the aforementioned dance. Once that party comes to an end, homecoming is done for the year.
Keeping all that in mind, a woman named Nicole Hornback decided to attend one of Rockwall’s homecoming events in 2019. Accompanied by her two young sons Warren and Clarke, they joined the crowd ahead of the parade. However, not even she could’ve predicted what happened next as the floats made their way down the street.
In a terrifying moment for Hornback, her youngest boy Clarke began to choke on some candy, leaving her in a difficult position. From there, the mom went on to open up about the incident during a conversation with CBS 17 in October 2019. According to her, she noticed that something wasn’t right straight away.
Standing with Clarke, Hornback tells the channel, “I was sitting right next to him. And I just happened to look over, and there was no noise, there was no coughing, there was no breathing. And at that moment, that’s when I tried to give him the heimlich. [But] I’ve never taken a class.”
Regarding the latter point, Hornback then makes a rather heartbreaking confession. She adds, “To feel so useless as a mother was the most terrifying thing in my life.” As her son struggled to breathe, the parent tried to find someone else in the crowd who could save him, which caught the attention of Winters.
Speaking to CBS 17, Winters recalls what transpired next. The cheerleader says, “I see the kid. I see a little bright red face and his mom’s holding him up, begging for help, screaming, asking, ‘Someone help me, someone help me!’ And her kid’s turning purple, so I immediately jumped off the float.”
Winters continues, “I ran down to the kiddo and I was like, ‘I got him!’ And I just grabbed him from the mom. I grabbed him and tilted him upside down and just hit a good three back thrusts.” Thanks to the teenager’s quick-thinking, Clarke subsequently spat up the sweet, clearing his airwaves.
After Winters performed the “baby heimlich” maneuver, she handed Clarke to his mother before heading back to her float. As it turned out, the senior had been taught that particular routine a few years earlier. For you see, her mom works within the medical sector, something that she herself wants to emulate.
Regarding the maneuver itself, it appears to be fairly straightforward at first glance. But given the stress a parent might be under at the time, the routine could be a lot harder to pull off. So on that note, the Harvard Medical School website shared a simple guide for moms and dads to follow in situations such as this.
The medical post read, “Place the infant face down across your forearm, resting your forearm on your leg. [Then] support the infant’s head with your hand. Give four forceful blows to the back with the heel of your hand. You may have to repeat this several times until the obstructing object is coughed out.”
In some instances, though, that particular method doesn’t always get the job done. The post added, “If this does not work, turn the baby over. With two fingers one finger width below an imaginary line connecting the nipples, give four forceful thrusts to the chest to a depth of one inch.”
But while Winters is unlikely to encounter anything like this as an aspiring pediatric surgeon, her knowledge ultimately prevented a potential tragedy. Unfortunately for Hornback, she didn’t get the chance to thank the student for what she did that day. So after the incident, Clarke’s mom made a post on Facebook.
Hornback’s social media message then caught the attention of officials at Rockwall High School, leading the pair to be reunited. Both CBS 17 and Fox 51 captured the meeting at the school gym, with Clarke and his older brother tagging along as well. At that stage, Winters shared a hug with the grateful parent.
Following the meeting, Hornback reiterated her appreciation for Winters while talking to Fox 51. She tells the local channel, “I don’t really have any words. The words that you would say to anybody who does something for you is ‘thank you.’ But those don’t seem good enough. She saved my baby.”
Meanwhile, Winters had one last thing to say on the matter, addressing the overall reaction to her efforts during the homecoming parade. Speaking to Fox 51, she says, “I know they call me the town hero! It’s super exciting to own that title, but most importantly I’m just really glad the boy’s okay.”
The Fox 51 and CBS 17 clips were subsequently uploaded to YouTube soon after, with the former generating a sizable response. Indeed, that particular video earned over 14,000 views on the website. Incredibly, though, the latter post really blew up on social media when Fox8 shared it on Facebook.
Since then the video has gone viral, with online users flocking to watch the remarkable tale. The clip has earned just under five million views on Facebook, alongside more than 179,000 likes and over 27,000 shares. In addition to that, it’s garnered in excess of 2,000 comments too.
Many of those messages proved to be very supportive of Winters, as social media users hailed her actions. “What an amazing young lady!” wrote one individual in the comments section on Facebook. “She was calm under pressure. I pray she lives out her dreams in life.” Yet the kind words didn’t end there.
That comment was echoed by several other Facebook users, but someone else raised an intriguing point. They wrote, “I’ve always thought infant CPR should be mandatory for new parents. It has always amazed me how many people don’t know basic CPR or first aid. Great job to Tyra, glad she knew what to do!”
Another user couldn’t help but agree with those words, before focusing on someone else. Indeed, the individual looked to praise Winters’ mom for her part in this incredible incident as well. While there’s no way the parent could’ve predicted this would happen, she ultimately planted the seeds for the dramatic rescue.
“Amazing young lady!” the social media user wrote on Facebook, hailing Winters’ actions during the parade. “So fearless and quick about it. And armed with [the] knowledge of lifesaving skills and techniques she saved a child’s life. Also much respect to her mother for training her daughter and raising her right!”
As the messages of goodwill continued to flood in, though, one other comment really stood from the rest. Much like their fellow users, this person praised Winters’ quick-thinking on that fateful day in Rockwall. But they also wanted to reiterate how grateful Hornback would be for many more years to come.
The Facebook user wrote, “Great job Tyra! You will go a long way in life and that mother will never be able to repay you. Or even give you half the thank yous that you need to even understand that you’re a miracle, and you changed her life. Had you not been there, you never know what could have happened.”