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CUB SCOUT'S BIG BEAR HUG SAVES A LIFE.

Byline: DENNIS McCARTHY

Odds and ends from around the Valley:

The Student of the Month at Pinecrest School in Northridge jumped up from his desk in homeroom last week, grabbed his friend, Matt Hathaway, and gave him a big bear hug from behind.

``Stop it, Jake, you're hurting him,'' the teacher said. ``Sit down and leave Matt alone.''

But 10-year-old Jake Singer didn't listen. He kept his arms tightly around Matt, and continued to administer the Heimlich maneuver until Matt spit out the cherry pit that had lodged in his throat.

With Matt's back to her, the teacher didn't realize the boy couldn't breathe and was turning blue. Only Jake saw his friend's face.

``I wasn't scared doing it, Mom,'' Jake later told his mother, Faith Singer. ``But I was scared Matt wasn't breathing. I was scared for my friend.''

Thursday, Matt and his mom, Brenda Hathaway, took Jake and his mom out for pizza to say thank you. Joining them was Bruce McDonald, the leader of Cub Scout Pack 441 at Pinecrest School in Northridge.

Last November, as part of first-aid training, Bruce taught Jake and his other Cub Scouts the Heimlich maneuver.

``When I heard what Jake had done, I was thrilled beyond words,'' McDonald said. ``I may have taught him how to do it, but it was Scouting that helped him save Matt's life.''

When it came time last Friday for Pinecrest School Principal Janice Rudd to stand up in front of the student body in the auditorium and announce who had been chosen Student of the Month, there was only one real candidate, everyone knew.

The quiet 10-year-old kid who saved his buddy's life and became the campus hero.

``I never thought I would have to use it,'' Jake said Thursday, sharing a pizza with Matt. ``It's something good to know in emergencies, but you never want it to happen again.''

Matt smiled and shook his head. No, never again.

Some stories refuse to die. Take Craig Shergold, now known as Craig Sheppard.

He was 7 and dying of cancer in England in 1989, when he put out a plea through the Children's Wish Foundation in Atlanta for people to send him greeting cards so he could be in the Guinness Book of Records.

More than 16 million cards were mailed to him in a year, and Craig had his place in the 1991 paperback edition of the Guinness book on page 487.

Should have been end of story, right? Wrong. The kid beat his cancer and is now in his 20s. But there's still a chain letter network waiting to grant his wish 17 years later.

I just got another chain letter Thursday from a woman in Florida who wanted me to help a little boy's wish come true. His name's Craig Sheppard now, and he's still 7, still dying of cancer. But it isn't greeting cards he wants now, it's business cards.

The kid had supposedly contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help him get in the Guinness book. He never did.

``It's a story that has taken on a life of its own,'' said Shelley Ginsburg, director of public relations for the Los Angeles Make-A-Wish Foundation. ``It just won't die.

``The real Craig is now a healthy college student, and has requested an end to the mail. But it just keeps coming. I guess the good news is people think of us first when they send a card to Craig, but we've never had anything to do with his wish.''

If you truly want to help a terminally ill child get a last wish fulfilled, there is no shortage of real girls and boys locally who could use your help, Ginsberg says.

So throw Craig's chain letter away, and give Ginsberg a call at the Make-A-Wish oundation at (310) 788-9474 or see www.wishla.org.

Dennis McCarthy, (818) 713-3749

dennis.mccarthy(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Jake Singer, 10, right, saved classmate Matt Hathaway, 10, at school by using the Heimlich maneuver that he learned in Cub Scouts.

Gus Ruelas/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 10, 2006
Words:680
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