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A man with a degenerative condition was stuck on the sidewalk, until he heard a voice

ADRIAN FLORIDO, HOST:

Time now for "My Unsung Hero," our series from the team at Hidden Brain telling the stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression. Today's story comes from Mike Huddleston. In February of the year 2000, Huddleston flew across the country to San Francisco for a training. After he landed, he needed to get to a rental car agency. But because of a degenerative condition that weakens his muscles, he wasn't able to climb the stairs of the shuttle bus. Instead, the car agency sent someone to pick him up. But as he was walking outside to meet his ride, he fell, and he couldn't get up.

MIKE HUDDLESTON: So I remember looking around, trying to imagine how I was going to be able to get up. I needed to push off of something. The curb was there, but there was traffic, and I didn't think that was going to be really safe. So I remember sitting there on my butt (laughter) in the middle of the sidewalk in front of San Francisco Airport, thinking, what in the world am I going to do?

Out of nowhere, all of a sudden, I hear in my left ear, what can I do to help? I turned around and looked, and there was a guy there, maybe 35 or 40 years old. And I said, are you kidding? He said, no. What can I do to help you, man? And I described what he could do to help me get up off the ground. He did it willingly and capably and, with no complaints or anything like that, went over, got my luggage - my suitcase had rolled a few feet away, out of reach - brought that back over to me. We shook hands. He asked me if I was good, and I said, I am now because of you, so thank you very much. He just said, no problem, and turned and walked away. It's been 24 years since that day, and it still gets me emotional when I think about that.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HUDDLESTON: One of the things I would like to focus on is my unsung hero's not only being willing to help but the way in which he offered that help, which was to ask me how he could help me. Different people who need assistance may need it in different ways, so asking them how you can help them is amazingly helpful. And it allows the individual who's in need of assistance to maintain a sense of self - to maybe feel a little less helpless and maybe even a little less vulnerable. That man is my unsung hero. His willingness to help me and the compassion he showed in a very challenging situation for me is something I will never forget. Thank you very much.

FLORIDO: Listener Mike Huddleston of Baltimore, Md. You can find more stories from "My Unsung Hero" wherever you get your podcasts. And to share the story of your unsung hero, record a voice memo on your phone and email it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.