The Utterly Brave Way a 9-Year-Old Student with Autism Saved His Teacher’s Life

A little boy who adores superheroes had an opportunity to become one.


An average school day at Oak Grove Elementary in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, took a deadly spin last April when fourth-grade teacher Madonna Kenser suffered a near-fatal allergic reaction to a dry-erase marker. Kenser inhaled the fumes while teaching the class using an overhead projector, when suddenly her throat began to close.

“I was having an asthma attack,” Kenser told “The students were watching and I knew I had to get to my desk [where my inhaler was].”

As the classroom of terrified nine-year-olds looked on, Kenser stumbled across the room but fainted before she could reach the device.

The class was stunned. Thankfully, one youngster, Brendon Garman, knew what to do. He jumped from his desk and darted toward the purse his teacher had been reaching for. Finding her inhaler, he then gave a woozy Kenser her first life-saving gasps.

It was a fearful moment, but Brendon credits his quick thinking to a scene he remembered from the movie Are We There Yet. In the scene, one of the main characters has an asthma attack and collapses. Another character rushes to his aid with an inhaler and is able to revive him.

“If I didn’t see that movie, I wouldn’t know what to do,” says Brendon.

After the rescue, he said, “You know Mrs. Kenser, TV’s not so bad, huh?,” Kenser told the news station.

Although she praises the entire class for their calm reaction, Brendon’s is the one she’ll likely remember most. Brendon has autism, a disability that can limit communication and social skills. She and Brendon’s family hope this experience will send the message that children with autism are gifted and hold the potential to do extraordinary things.

After all, Brendon’s actions saved Kenser’s life.

“I went to the doctor and he said 5,000 people die from the things that happened that day,” Kenser told “[If it weren’t for Brendon], there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be here.”

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Brooke Nelson
Brooke is a tech and consumer products writer covering the latest in digital trends, product reviews, security and privacy, and other news and features for