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Theresa Jo Belkota, Lewiston, NY

Smiling woman wraps arms around young boy
Lewiston, NY, Letter Carrier Theresa Jo Belkota with Gavin Burns

A Lewiston, NY, family has long known Theresa Jo Belkota as a neighbor and a letter carrier. But now they call her something else, too: “Gavin’s hero.”

Belkota was at home washing dishes on a summer day when she heard screams for help next door.

She rushed outside and discovered that 10-year-old Gavin Burns’ foot had been severed by a riding lawn mower, and his parents were in a state of panic.

Belkota told them to call 911 while she used her shirt to wrap Gavin’s leg and applied additional pressure to the femoral artery to limit life-threatening blood loss. She also advised the boy’s father to ice the foot in hopes that it could be reattached.

Gavin was flown to a children’s hospital in Buffalo, NY, where he required weeks of treatment. Ultimately, his foot could not be saved, but the prompt first aid is credited with preventing a more extensive leg amputation.

For Gavin’s homecoming, his mother made a T-shirt for Belkota that read “Superhero Neighbor” and one for him that read “Some people don’t believe in superheroes, but they’ve never met my neighbor.”

“I’m just an ordinary person,” the Postal Service employee told the local CBS station. “I’m not used to people saying things like that about me.”

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