Paper route hero: Wald helps ill woman
It was 4 p.m. Dec. 3 when Deb Smith of of West Broadway Avenue heard a knock at her front door.
When she went to see who it was, she found her paper carrier, a slight teenager standing in the cold. While it was the same hour on any given weekday Brayden Wald usually brought her The Fairfield Ledger, Smith said she could tell something was wrong.
“He looked very concerned,” she said. “He doesn’t usually knock with it being winter, he just leaves the paper.”
Wald had just come from the home of Smith’s neighbor Karen Sisk, her friend of 30 years.
“He said, ‘Don’t tell Karen I told you this, but something’s wrong, she can’t breathe right,’” said Smith.
When she went next door, she found Sisk struggling to walk to the kitchen, her breathing labored. Smith helped her to the couch and put her fingers to her wrist.
“Her pulse was racing,” said Smith. “I could tell she was not well.”
When Sisk, 64, resisted going to the hospital, Smith called her doctor.
“I told them her symptoms,” she said. “They said to get her to the emergency room right away.”
Smith took her to the Jefferson County Health Center where she learned aside from ongoing issues as a diabetic, Sisk was unknowingly suffering from pneumonia. Smith said she’d noticed Sisk had not been feeling well in recent weeks, but was surprised to learn her condition could have been life threatening if left untreated.
“The outcome could have been very scary, but I don’t like to think about that,” said Smith. “Our little paper boy was our guardian angel.”
Each weekday 15-year-old Wald makes one extra stop along his paper route to visit Sisk, nicknamed “Grandma.”
According to the Wald, he is not the only kid in the neighborhood to call her by that name.
“Everybody calls her Grandma,” he said.
During the year Wald has delivered The Ledger, he stops by Sisk’s house for a soda in the summer, for a little TV in the winter or just to say “hello.”
“We are really good friends,” he said.
His visits have upon occasion caused him to forget to deliver the paper to Smith, but she said she’s not too hard on him.
“My children carried The Ledger for 15 years, and I’m just kind of aware of what the paper boys and girls go through in a day,” she said. “He’s a sweet young man and is very caring.”
Wald first noticed Sisk struggling when he stopped by Friday afternoon on Nov. 30.
“She was laying down on the couch,” he said. “I asked her what had happened, and she said she had fallen down and her back was hurting.”
On Monday she was no longer bedridden, but Wald noticed her breathing heavily.
“I was helping her fix her TV,” said Wald. “I got worried and I asked if she wanted me to find someone to take her to the hospital.”
While Sisk said no, he went next door to Smith’s house anyway. When Wald learned the urgency of Sisk’s condition the next day, he said he felt grateful he had helped.
“I’m glad I was able to do it,” he said.
Sisk remains in the Jefferson County Health Center and expects to stay for another week.
“I’m glad that he came over,” said Sisk. “I know he works hard — that he would take time out to do that is wonderful.”
A group of Sisk’s friends, led by Jill Leafgreen, wrote a letter to Wald to thank him for getting help.
“She could have died,” said Leafgreen. “I thought it was neat he knew something wasn’t right. He didn’t panic … We’re proud of him for thinking and getting help.”