Last month, fourth grader Tyler Doohan perished in a fire at his grandfather’s trailer home. It is the ultimate nightmare of every parent—to lose one’s precious child at so young an age. But Tyler’s character, his heroism would make any parent proud:
Tyler raced through his grandfather’s trailer home in suburban Penfield early on the morning of Jan. 20, alerting friends and family to a raging fire.
He was crediting with saving the lives of six people — including two other kids, ages 4 and 6.
But then he went back in to the inferno to try to rescue his grandfather, who used a wheelchair because he’d lost part of a leg. They never made it out.
What is heroism? It can be defined in a variety of ways. But extraordinary acts of love-inspired courage certainly fit the bill. And Tyler is rightly being recognized for the heroism he displayed.
Fire companies from cross the country added Tyler’s name to their duty rosters, while he was declared an honorary firefighter by Penfield Fire Chief Chris Ebmeyer at his funeral at St. John of Rochester Catholic Church. The Silver Lake College of the Holy Family basketball team traveled to serve as pallbearers, inspired by his story.
There are many explanations for interpersonal cooperation and enlightened self-interest. But these cannot explain why someone runs back into a fire, risking their own life to save the lives of others. The real reasons for his heroism: free will and love. Tyler chose to look beyond himself. He chose to act out of love. And in doing so, he showed the human capacity for heroism and greatness.