When Dale Turnbull saved his friend Harrison Rosser from choking, he likely didn’t expect the attention he has received. An Eagle Scout, Turnbull was primed to act quickly in an emergency. And like most heroes, Turnbull felt that he did what anyone would do in a similar situation.
Yet his story touched the heart of Hobie Billingsley, another hero whose legacy began in the 1960s as diving coach for Indiana University where, during his 30 year run, his divers won 135 major titles including World, Olympic and Pan American Championships. Hobie’s Heroes, as he affectionately called them, also won NCAA and Big 10 Championships.
Billingsley, in honor of those who choose a higher path, along with his divers, created Hobie’s Heroes this year to honor brave acts that follow the foundation of his honorable teachings.
Turnbull is the second recipient of the prestigious award that had Billingsley and a former student athlete flying to Florida to meet at a reception at the Fellowship Community Church in Spring Hill on Saturday.
Community leaders spoke to Turnbull, 15, and his family during the ceremony and praised the young man for his courageous act.
While a seventh-grader at Challenger K-8, Turnbull, now a freshman in high school, jumped into action when his classmate and friend was choking, his eyes bulging and the color flowing from his face. Performing the Heimlich maneuver, Turnbull was able to dislodged the chunk of food trapped in Rosser’s windpipe.
Ruthann Sharp, chairwoman for Boy Scout Troop 442 of Spring Hill, gave a moving introduction about Turnbull’s reputation as a Boy Scout and Eagle Scout. She then introduced Jim Fischer, an Indiana High School diving coach and one of Hobie Billingsley’s former students, a 2011 inductee into the National Fitness Hall of Fame.
“The right things happen to the right people,” Bower said.
Challenger K-8 teacher Christopher King who witnessed the event in 2012 also spoke of Turnbell’s heroism and how that afternoon that might have had a different outcome.
The highlight of the ceremony was the passionate and heartfelt speech given by Billingsley who, now in his 80s, tried to take the spotlight off himself and place it where he believed it belonged.
“I didn’t come here for you to talk about me,” Billingsley said. “For me to come here is only because this kid is so good. He is special.”
When presented with the award, Turnbull pulled out his notes and thanked his family and others for their support. He then turned to Billingsley and thanked him with the untamed nervous enthusiasm of a humbled hero.