ALBERTSON, Long Island (WABC) --An average day at gym class turned terrifying for when a Nassau County 8th grader went into cardiac arrest.
He's alive thanks to the quick thinking of some school staff members.
Tuesday, those heroes received special thanks in Albertson.
"We were out doing our warm up, and he was face first in the middle of the track," said Artie Freiss, coach.
He thought Sanketh Kumar was having a seizure, but it was actually a heart attack, right on a grassy patch by the track at Herricks Middle School.
He called a colleague for help, and that led to lifesaving steps. That included a nurse using an AED.
"She issued a shock, and just like in the movies, his entire body went up in the air, and went back down, and you could actually see his heart in his chest beat," Joan Keegan, Principal.
They transported him to Winthrop Hospital. He was then transported three hours later to Columbia Presbyterian in Manhattan.
Sanketh remembers nothing from that day, but knows why he's here.
"They saved my life, and I'm thankful for that," Sanketh said.
Each of his eight heroes received a Senate Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor for a New Yorker.
They are medals they will cherish, but not any more than this sweet kind boy who returned to school after receiving a pacemaker, and recuperating.
"We just want to hug him and keep him safe forever," Keegan said.
"I'm just grateful that my colleagues jumped in the way they did, because I was out there by myself for a little while. Everyone played a little role and without them, it wouldn't have happened," Freiss said.
Now Sanketh is looking board to running this track as soon as his doctor gives him the go ahead.