Hardin firefighter’s kindness doesn’t go unnoticed after helping woman at RodeoHouston

Thomas Harwell, a volunteer firefighter from Hardin, carries a woman from her seat to the landing at the top of the stairs, at RodeoHouston on Saturday.

By Vanesa Brashier, editor@bluebonnetnews.com

Helping others is part of the job for firefighters like Thomas Harwell of Hardin, so when he saw a woman in need Saturday at RodeoHouston, Harwell did what comes naturally to firefighters – he helped.

His wife, Shayla, snapped a photo of her husband as he carried an elderly woman from her seat to the landing at the top of the stairs. She posted the photo to Facebook with the caption: “Y’all I have to brag on my husband big time tonight. He made me so proud. As we were sitting in our seats waiting for the rodeo to start, I noticed an elderly lady, her grown daughters and two young granddaughters trying to come down the stairs. The elderly lady was having a rough time.”

Shayla goes on to say that she told her husband the family might need help.

“Not only did he help get her to her seat, but she did not have the strength to come back up the stairs, so he carried her,” she wrote.

Since that time, the Facebook post has made its way around the world, with Harwell getting media inquiries from the U.S. and other countries. The glare of the spotlight is uncomfortable for Harwell, who told Bluebonnet News on Sunday, “It’s just another day. If you see somebody in need, that’s what you do. Even before I became a firefighter, I was raised and taught to help where you are needed.”

Helping other people usually comes at no personal cost, he added.

Just a week ago, Harwell, who also is owner of Iron Arc Fabrication, was on the receiving end of help when he collapsed in his shower and needed immediate medical attention.

“I was near death with a blood clot that had moved to my brain. My wife called my chief (Hardin VFD Fire Chief Craig Powell) for help. The firefighters showed up and made the right call to have me taken by Life Flight to Houston. I got the right medicine and I am better. I am a lucky man,” he said.

When asked if his doctor would approve of his actions at the rodeo on Saturday so soon after being released from the hospital, Harwell said with a laugh, “Let’s not talk about that.”

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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