Photo of firefighter carrying elderly woman up stadium stairs captures hearts

Posted at 10:29 AM, Mar 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-18 10:29:45-04

HOUSTON – Firefighter Thomas Harwell says it’s always been in his blood to help people, and not just when he’s on the clock.

He, his wife Shayla and their 2-year-old daughter were at theHouston Livestock Show and Rodeo featuring Brad Paisley Saturday when they saw an elderly woman struggling to get down the stairs of the stadium with her daughter and two granddaughters.

“She was having a rough time,” Shayla Harwell told CNN Sunday night. “I nudged my husband and told him that they may need help.”

Thomas Harwell helped the woman down the stairs, but he and his wife kept an eye on the family until the show ended. They knew the woman would need to come back up the stairs in order to exit the stadium.

“I helped her downstairs, and I wasn’t going to leave until I helped her upstairs,” Thomas Harwell said. He asked the woman if he could pick her up, and while hesitant at first, she agreed.

Shayla Harwell took a picture of her husband carrying the elderly woman up the stairs and posted it to Facebook. The picture has since gone viral with over 1,000 shares and 700 comments.

“She did not have the strength to come back up the stairs,” her Facebook post read. “So, he carried her!”

“I’m almost shocked, I really honestly didn’t think it would go that far,” Shayla Harwell said. “She was very appreciative. When he placed her down at the top of the stairs, she was grinning ear to ear. It really touched her to have him help her.”

Thomas Harwell is a firefighter of 15 years with the Hardin Volunteer Fire Department, a city about 50 miles northeast of Houston.

“I’m a senior captain in the fire department. My job is to help people,” he said.

Neither he nor his wife said they helped the woman for the recognition. They didn’t even get the woman’s name.

“If you’re alive and breathing, you shouldn’t need an excuse to help someone else,” Thomas Harwell said. “If they need help, help them.”