LENOIR, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - They say a picture is worth a thousand words but a viral picture of a North Carolina National Guard soldier carrying a baby through the snow had a lot more to say. The photo captured the hearts of many across the nation.
Thursday, Sgt. Donovan McPherson actually got to hold Saylor this time in a Lenior restaurant.
He carried her in her car seat a couple of weeks ago to safety during a massive winter storm on December 9. Her family was snowed in and trapped.
“I actually didn’t get to see her before because she was covered up,” said McPherson.
“There he is walking through a snowstorm saving lives. Look what he did for us,” said Saylor’s father, James High.
“I didn’t expect for everything to happen the way it did,” said Jessica Gilbert, Saylor’s mother.
As the storm moved in Jessica and her husband James prepared. They had plenty of food in their Colletsville home.
“The power went out. It was getting really cold really quick. I didn’t expect it to get that cold,” said Gilbert.
Trees had fallen on power lines and across the road.
“We didn’t know how we were going to get out,” said High. Despite shoveling, he wasn’t able to get the car out.
Gilbert knew they had to call someone because Saylor was so cold and couldn’t stop shivering. A dispatcher told Gilbert that they were sending the National Guard.
“Especially where the house was and trying to turn and navigate through the snow to make sure we didn’t go off in a ditch,” explained Sgt. McPherson about the touch conditions.
He got the humvee as far as he could and then walked in the snow to reach Saylor. The 27-year-old carried her a quarter of a mile back. That’s when the viral photo was taken. It was then shared over and over again on social media.
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Gilbert posted a thank you to the National Guard for rescuing her and her daughter. Friends then started to tag her in pictures and articles but she couldn’t quite find out the mystery man’s name.
A few phone calls later and Gilbert was set to meet the man who took such good care of her daughter. It’s a name she will never forget.
“I just put my faith in him to get us there safely,” said Gilbert.
“Now seeing her in person is surreal that I get to hold the baby out of the car seat,” explained McPherson.
Saylor and her family shared a meal with their new hero.
“It makes me feel good about what I do and hopefully encourage more people to do good things during the holiday season,” said McPherson.
“Imagine what the world could do if everyone could be like him,” said High.
McPherson is a student at UNC-Greensboro and a member of the North Carolina National Guard.