Ms. Gray has ALS, which causes her difficulty in swallowing. She and her family were at her parents’ house in Seneca for dinner on Christmas Eve 2014. “We were all at the table, the extended family, and I was eating Brunswick stew, without the corn, because I’m not supposed to eat corn,” Ms. Gray said. “All of a sudden, something was stuck in my throat. I tried to cough and see if I could get it down, and that didn’t help. I left the table and went into the kitchen and started coughing harder. My husband was with me. There were children in the kitchen eating and I didn’t want them watching this so I walked back to the bathroom. My husband came with me and started hitting me on the back to dislodge the food. He said my lips were turning blue.”
Clark Gray, 17, a senior at Eastside High School and a lifeguard, came to his mother’s side. “I told Dad to get out of the way and I used abdominal thrusts,” he said. Clark had received lifesaving training through the Red Cross and StarGuard.
A piece of sausage popped out of his mother’s throat. “Clark was entirely composed,” Ms. Gray said. “It was pretty unbelievable. Doing that on your mom, that’s not’s easy. I told him: You’re my hero.”