Eathan Cobbin had never actually seen the Heimlich maneuver done before — until he had to do it.

It was March of last year, and he was in the cafeteria at Brown Middle School in Ravenna, eating with his best friend, Christian Neff. They sat with other pals. Chatting. Laughing.

Then suddenly, Christian stood up, banging on his chest.

For the briefest of seconds, 13-year-old Eathan wondered if his friend was joking. Perhaps everyone did, because no one moved.

But Eathan saw the fear and panic in Christian’s eyes, the way his face was turning red.

Eathan moved quickly, skirting around the edge of the table to reach Christian on the opposite side.

“As I ran to him, I was thinking about those pictures,” Eathan said.

Those “pictures” were from a poster on the wall of his neighborhood Dairy Queen. He’d never exactly read the sign, but the images were descriptive enough, showing how to stop someone from choking.

So Eathan pulled up behind his friend, wrapped his arms around him and squeezed sharply, twice.

A piece of cheese flew from Christian’s mouth as his gasps drew fresh air back into his lungs.

On Thursday, Eathan will be among 12 area residents feted at the American Red Cross of Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties’ Acts of Courage banquet. The organization has been spotlighting heroism at this annual affair for 22 years.

A limited number of $100 tickets remain available for the event at the Hilton in Fairlawn by visiting www.redcross.org/acts18.

The Red Cross also will present its H. Peter Burg Award to a community member who has been selfless in service to the community. This year’s recipient is Brian J. Moore, who will be honored for a lifelong commitment to humanitarian causes and charitable organizations and the vitality and welfare of the local community.

Eathan and Christian will attend the banquet together.

“I want to be there to support him,” said Christian, 13.

Christian still recalls hitting himself on his chest, trying to dislodge the food on his own. He said he’s very thankful Eathan knew what to do.

“I was shocked that he’d been able to do that,” Christian said.

Eathan’s parents said they aren’t surprised Eathan reacted so quickly.

“He’s an outstanding kid,” said proud dad Adelbert Cobbin. “Christian is his best friend, and he would do whatever he had to do to help his friend.”

Mom Lisa Blicher said Eathan’s role as a football quarterback and basketball point guard have honed in him the ability to “take charge and make decisions.”

Still, “I was surprised he knew how to do it,” she said. “I had no idea he paid attention to that sign at the Dairy Queen.”

Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or pschleis@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/paulaschleis.