Rachel Guzy, the gutsy first-year camp counselor who saved nine pre-teen campers from injury in a runaway bus in August, has been front page news, honored By Mayor Bloomberg at Gracie Mansion, been interviewed on “Good Day, New York” and gotten a gift of a golden apple from Tiffany’s.
But like most Queens natives, she’s first and foremost a resident of her neighborhood, and on Wednesday, September 16, Guzy and her family were welcomed to the Applebee’s at 38-01 35th Avenue in Astoria, for the presentation of their “Neighborhood Hero” Award.
“Rachel’s actions reinforce for everyone in our community that there are great people out there doing great things, not for the recognition, rather because it is the right thing to do,” said Ken Feldman, a spokesperson Apple-Metro Inc.
“It’s been fun and overwhelming at the same time,” Guzy said. “My face hurts from all the smiling,” she confided to The Queens Courier.
“She’s really come into her own over the last year,” said her stepfather.
“Being a counselor helped,” said proud mom, JoAnn Algor, who promised that with back-to-school accomplished and all the publicity subsiding, “Now I’ll teach her to drive.”
Still, when she wasn’t being the poised hero – recounting when bus driver “Sal” Fernandez, who had been speaking to her a moment before, collapsed and fell out the door, leaving 10 youngsters careening toward an Elmhurst intersection – there was the occasional flash of the bubbly schoolgirl.
And in a reflective moment, Guzy said, “I’m grateful for everything, but I’m very sad for Sal and his family. With all the attention on me, people are forgetting about him and that isn’t right.”
Feldman said that honoring local heroes was only one of the ways Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar was backing up the neighborhood part of their name.
“Our principles require that we not just do business in but get involved in our communities,” he said, “whether it is the local sourcing of restaurant staff, support of local little leagues or leveraging our Dining to Donate fund-raising program on behalf of schools and local charitable organizations.”
Glancing over toward the booth where Rachel, her mom, dad and best pal were enjoying their meal and vamping with the plaque, Feldman just nodded and said, “We tip our hats to Rachel and her family.”