Every parent is concerned about the TV their kids watch, and what lessons they might be taking away.
The parents of Brandon Williams, an autistic 13-year-old from Staten Island, knew they had an impressionable kid when it comes to TV.
“His brain works … like a sponge,” Brandon’s dad Anthony told the New York Post. “He absorbs everything he sees.”
But Brandon proved that not all lessons you pick up from cartoons are bad ones.
Brandon was in seventh grade at Barnes Intermediate School. He was eating lunch in the cafeteria with his best friend Jessica Pellegrini, also a special needs student.
Then all of a sudden, Jessica started choking.
Brandon leapt to action. He went behind her, threw his arms around her, and thrust hard beneath her rib cage—a flawless Heimlich maneuver.
The apple Jessica was choking on came flying out.
“He saved my life,” Jessica told the Post.
The school was stunned, and wondered how exactly Brandon knew what to do.
“I looked at him, I go, ‘Where’d you learn to do that?” Brandon’s paraprofessional, Brian Griffin, told ABC 7.
Brandon gave him a very simple answer.
“I learned it on Spongebob.”
That’s right. Some people learn the Heimlich from professional safety courses, but Brandon learned it from Spongebob Squarepants, wacky underwater cartoon character.
There are actually several scenes in the long-running Nickelodeon show that show characters performing the Heimlich. But Brandon specifically remembered one moment where Spongebob’s neighbor Squidward gets a clarinet stuck in his throat, and Spongebob dislodges it.
It’s an unlikely source, but everyone is impressed with Brandon’s heroism.
“He picks up on things that most of us would miss, and files it all away in his head, and he can recall it all in an instant,” his father Anthony Williams told the Staten Island Advance.
“That’s how he knew instantly what to do. And we’re glad he did. We’re proud of him.”
Brandon’s mother Karen agreed, recalling that Brandon has always had an incredible memory, even from a young age. “He directed the bus driver to my mother’s at 4.5,” she recalled ABC 7.
While it’s funny that he learned it from Spongebob, it wasn’t lost on anyone how severe the situation might’ve been. An NYC first-grader had just died from a choking incident a week earlier.
“Last week the news story was horrible,” Jessica’s mom Debra Pellegrini told the New York Post. She was incredible grateful Brandon was there to save her daughter.
According to Inside Edition, Brandon and Jessica’s class threw a party to celebrate Brandon’s heroism.
Bizarrely, this isn’t even the first time a kid has learned the Heimlich from “Spongebob.”
In 2010, a 12-year-old girl saved her friend’s life when she was choking on a piece of gum—citing the exact same scene:
“I saw in my head Squidward with his clarinet lodged in his throat and then SpongeBob does the Heimlich maneuver and the clarinet comes flying out of his mouth,” she told the New York Post.
That’s at least two lives saved. That sponge deserves a medal.