As a small crowd gathered inside a showroom at Carlisle Chevrolet, one two-year-old boy quickly became more infatuated with the buttons on a camera than the commotion going on behind him.
No, the small throng of people was not there to purchase a new family vehicle or test drive the newest pickup truck. They were there to honor and recognize the unlikeliest of heroes after he reacted to the unlikeliest of situations without hesitation.
Thursday afternoon was a celebration after Alex Hicks saved two-year-old Parker Abbott from being struck by a vehicle in Carlisle Chevrolet car lot.
For 30 years, Jeff Jones served as a firefighter in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which included his last nine years as the chief in Sherman before retiring about 18 months ago — or, right around the time his grandson Parker was born and then diagnosed with Pediatric Bilateral Retinoblastoma.
The potentially blinding cancer was, in a roundabout way, the reason why Jones and his daughter, Leslie Abbott, were in the market for a vehicle in the first place. See, for the last 14 months or so, the family has made numerous trips to Houston for Parker to receive treatment in a fight against the rare form of cancer.
According to cancer.org, pediatric retinoblastoma affects between 250-300 children a year with most patients being under the age of five. Cancer of this kind makes up only four percent of childhood cancer cases and only one-in-four cases become bilateral.
Jones explained that between the sheer mileage the current sedan had already driven combined with the need for more space to haul the playpen, bags and other necessities to make Parker comfortable during his treatments, it was time to purchase a larger vehicle.
“We had to buy a new car, but we didn’t have to come here,” said Jones about the trip to Carlisle in January. “But God always has a plan.”
Abbot added, “Alex treated us so well the first time that we didn’t think twice about where to go when we started talking about buying a new car.”
After deciding on an SUV, Jones recalled walking outside to begin the process of moving belongings from the old car to the new car. Between the two was the vehicle of another potential buyer.
“I didn’t know he (Parker) was on my heels,” Jones said. “The gentleman and I in the car between us had some small talk and then he got into his car to backup. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the top of Parker’s head disappear behind the bumper. But God just had Alex in the right place. I saw Alex pick him (Parker) up, bear hug him and then look at me. How the car didn’t hit Parker or how the car didn’t hit Alex, I still don’t know.”
As the two men began to silently acknowledge the heroic actions, Jones recalled Parker looking at Hicks at saying, “Wow.”
“I think Parker, even just a little bit, realized what had just happened,” Jones said. “It definitely made me tear up a little.”
While Grant Lindsay, a Chevrolet zone manager, Carlisle General Manager Austin Blankenbeckler and others presented Hicks with an “Everyday Hero” pin, a plaque and words of gratitude Thursday, April 6, Parker roamed the showroom like any two-year-old would do. Even after his left eye was removed two months ago and a new prosthetic eye put in its place April 5, thanks to one car salesman turned cape-less hero, Parker is just a happy kid who is free to explore as he pleases — as long as he stays in sight, of course.
“We didn’t have to buy a car that day,” Jones added. “That guy didn’t have to park between us. But I know why Alex came to work that day. He will forever be very special to our family and to Parker.”
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith