She catches lightning bugs faster than they can blink. She handles snakes that could make a grown man scream. And bugs and turtles are among her favorite things.
Abby Jade Diener, 7, spends as much time as possible riding her bike and playing outside. She enjoys warm weather activities, yet had a winter experience she won’t soon forget.
On Jan. 15, 2012 Abby was staying with her grandparents, Wayne and Cheryl Collard, who live a few houses down from her home on Runyan Lake in Tyrone Township.
“Abby and I had just arrived at my house and she looked out the window at the lake and noticed that our neighbor’s dog, Bella, fell through the ice," Abby's grandmother said.
Cheryl Collard called neighbor Dennis Charrette and watched as he went out to rescue his dog. Moments later, Charrette became the one in need of rescue as he fell through the ice.
“My husband went out while I called 911. No one else was around,” Cheryl Collard said. "Neighbors said they had heard yelling, screaming and commotion but no one ever came out."
While grandma was on the phone with 911 and grandpa was outside, Abby took action of her own. Abby felt that no one was doing anything so she ran about 400 yards home to get two adults from her house she knew would take action.
T.J. Farren and Michael Palmer Hillier Jr. were working on cars in Abby's parents garage at the time.
“I went over there all by myself as fast as I could and got them,” Abby said.“I flung open the front door and I didn’t care how much snow got all over."
Hillier took a canoe to the beach while Farren got life jackets and rope. Then, Farren took the canoe out to Charrette, who had gone under the surface a few times. Farren made it out to Charrette and helped him keep his head above water. Firefighters arrived and were able to rescue Charette and he was transported to the hospital.
“Dennis told me if it wasn’t for Abby and T.J, he would have given up," Cheryl Collar said. "Seeing T.J coming out to him with the canoe gave him hope.”
Abby's older sister Brooke, 17, felt proud of her sister's actions.
“Abby told me her hero came out in her that day,” Brooke said. “It was the first time I realized her maturity kicking in.”
first-grade teacher Mechelle Clarke describes Abby as a caring little girl who often uses her thinking skills when it comes to helping others.
“It was a proud moment for me as her teacher. We made a very big deal in our classroom about having our own personal hero in class.” Clarke said. “Abby shared her exciting news which was followed by a loud round of applause by her classmates.”
Abby's mother, Dione, describes her daughter as very strong-willed, stubborn at times and very caring towards others.
“She worries about others but doesn’t think what position she’s putting herself in,” she said. “I think it’s great that she feels home is where she can go for help.”
When she's not out being a neighborhood hero, Abby can be found carrying a caterpillar in a plastic jug, jumping on a trampoline or riding on a skateboard.