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She was torn up and spattered with blood — then 2 strangers swung into action

Vige Barrie remembers her unsung heroes, Mary and Kevin.
Vige Barrie
Vige Barrie remembers her unsung heroes, Mary and Kevin.

This story is part of the My Unsung Hero series, from the Hidden Brain team, about people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else.


One June morning in 2017, Vige Barrie was walking to an important meeting in Washington, D.C.. She remembers feeling confident and happy — until she fell flat on her face.

"My glasses cut into my eyelid. My cheeks were torn up. I was bleeding. All I wanted to do was jump up and grab my glasses and avoid any further embarrassment," Barrie said.

Barrie has mild cerebral palsy. Because of the condition, she sometimes would fall without warning. But she hadn't done so in a long time, which added to her distress.

"I was deeply demoralized that this had happened to me yet again, and [at] what an awful moment — I needed to be somewhere very important. And yet here I was, a mess," Barrie remembered.

As she tried to collect herself, she heard a voice. It was a man she'd seen standing in a parking garage a few moments earlier.

"He ran over to me and picked me off the sidewalk, and he walked me, rushed me, actually, into a building and down an office hallway. And I heard them yelling, 'Mary, Mary, come, it's an emergency,'" Barrie said.

The man, who Barrie later learned was named Kevin, rushed her into a bathroom. Just then, Mary, the concierge of the building, appeared.

"And Mary just automatically, even though I had left a trail of blood, she took over washing me, washing my face, washing my hair, trying to get the blood off my clothes, soothing me," Barrie recalled. "I was babbling. I was so embarrassed."

After a little while, Kevin and Mary were able to clean Barrie up and make her presentable for her meeting.

"Between the two of them, Kevin and Mary, they put me together and encouraged me that it was going to be all right."

A few minutes later, Barrie made it to her meeting. And she continues to think about Kevin and Mary to this day.

My Unsung Hero is also a podcast — new episodes are released every Tuesday. To share the story of your unsung hero with the Hidden Brain team, record a voice memo on your phone and send it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ryan Katz
Autumn Barnes