Daniel Marceleno, 16, stood humbly before a standing ovation at the Hall County School Board of Education meeting last Monday, Nov. 26, nodding, smiling shyly and barely speaking.
He admitted in a later interview that he didn’t know quite how to feel about it all.
“I’m not sure how to express it,” Marceleno said. “It’s kind of hard to say how I felt in that moment.”
In October, Marceleno saved a man’s life. Plain and simple.
“We like to tell teachers and we like to tell students that what you do matters,” Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said. “I have a hard time even talking about it.”
A student in a work-study program at Johnson High who will begin taking some classes at Lanier College and Career Academy next semester, Marceleno also struggled to speak about the incident so impressed upon his memory.
It was early in the morning, and Marceleno was making the rounds with mentor Alan Moore to different schools to check on heating and air systems.
The two had just finished work at the Early College at Jones in the Chicopee Mill area of Gainesville, and were driving off to the next job.
At a stop sign, Marceleno recalled seeing Moore begin to lose consciousness.
“I noticed him a little shaky,” Marceleno said. “I asked him, ‘Hey, are you OK?’”
When Moore responded, “I don’t think so,” Marceleno sensed real trouble.
Moore had gone into cardiac arrest behind the wheel.
Marceleno, thinking and acting quickly, immediately reached over and put the car in park and called 911.
He applied CPR as the dispatcher instructed until paramedics arrived.
Marceleno said he was kind of in shock and caught up in the moment.
“I didn’t know how to really react,” at least until he returned to school later, he said. “That’s when it started kicking in more.”
But he appears to have made all the difference.
Nationally, only about 10 percent of individuals who experience a “sudden death” cardiac event outside of a hospital are revived.
But Moore was on hand to thank Marceleno at the Board of Education meeting, standing tall after his recovery, where the young student received a certificate of “bravery and courage” for his actions.
Moore’s family spoke of the bond they’ve developed with Marceleno, including a mold of hands holding a heart, itself a nod to a passage in the Bible’s Book of Daniel that begins, “A hand touched me …”
Schofield also reflected on Marceleno’s hand in saving Moore’s life.
“It was not by coincidence that Daniel ended up working with Alan,” he said, referencing the scripture. “I think it speaks to just how good this generation is and I think we forget that. All that crap we hear on television, I’m sorry, it doesn’t get any better than this generation.”