In September 2016, Maryland bus driver Renita Smith was working her evening route, dropping off her last batch of students for the day. Everything was totally normal until Renita made it to her third stop and noticed her brake light began flashing.
Before she knew it, the students said they smelled smoke in the back of the bus. By the time Renita picked up the phone to call the transportation center, the bus had caught fire.
Using her quick-thinking and maternal skills, Renita led the kids — who ranged in age from four to 10 — into a single-file line. Then, she safely got the students off the bus as it burst into flames in a residential neighborhood.
Renita, a single mother of two, didn’t stop there. She could have assumed all the students made it off the bus and left it at that. But instead, Renita ran back into the burning vehicle and risked her own life to make sure there were no kids unaccounted for.
All 20 students were safe.
The students’ parents are, of course, eternally grateful to Renita. She was hailed a hometown hero at multiple pep rallies and award ceremonies.
“It’s my job,” she says. “They’re my babies until I give them back to you.”
Ellen invited Renita to tell her harrowing story on her show. But when Ellen learned she lived paycheck-to-paycheck, she decided this was no way for a hero to live and raise her kids.
Watch the video below to see the shocking surprise in store for Renita. She definitely deserves it.
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