Illinois teenager Skyler James recently got an amazing surprise at her high school graduation. To understand how special this surprise was, you have got to go way back to the day Skyler was born.
"My birth mother abandoned me," James told 14 News. "I was left in a cemetery. That night, there was a call put out to the dispatchers."
Emergency crews searched all over the cemetery, but could not find her anywhere. Firefighter Charlie Heflin happened to be listening to the dispatch radio at the time, and had a hunch to check another nearby cemetery. He searched all over, but found nothing.
Then, as he started walking back to his truck, he heard a faint cry.
"I heard a little whimper when I got close to the tree,” said Heflin. “I dug down inside this real huge pine tree and found her.”
James was covered in blood and leaves and struggling to survive in the frigid temperatures. Her umbilical cord was still attached.
"I handed her off to the paramedics and I didn't see her since," Heflin said.
The parents who adopted James found Heflin on Facebook in the hopes of reuniting the two as James graduated high school. They found him and gave him a call.
"The call was, 'Are you Charlie Heflin? Do you remember rescuing a baby back in 1995,'" Heflin said. "My heart just sank."
The parents invited him to Skyler’s graduation and graduation party. Skyler told 14 News what it was like meeting the man who saved her life for the first time.
"I was talking to someone at my party and my parents came up and said, 'We need you for a second,'" said Skyler. "They took me over to Charlie and he introduced himself to me and told me the whole story again. I was totally shocked. It's something that I've dreamed of since I was a little kid, and it's amazing."
As you would expect, it was an emotional, tear-filled reunion.
"There were quite a few tears, both on the phone and the day we met,” Heflin said.
Skyler's rescue helped create the ‘Safe Haven Law’ in Illinois, which allows new parents to drop off a newborn at an emergency room, fire station, or police station without punishment.