Hilton waiter honored for saving a guest's life

Matt Benito, center, with Hilton senior staff including Marco Hilton GM Mac Chaudhry, right. Benito was honored Friday for saving the life of a guest who was choking.  Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Matt Benito, center, with Hilton senior staff including Marco Hilton GM Mac Chaudhry, right. Benito was honored Friday for saving the life of a guest who was choking. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Blue Energy - mom Addis Benito takes home balloons and her son's award. Matt Benito of the Marco Hilton staff was honored Friday for saving the life of a guest who was choking.  Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Blue Energy - mom Addis Benito takes home balloons and her son's award. Matt Benito of the Marco Hilton staff was honored Friday for saving the life of a guest who was choking. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Marco Hilton GM Mac Chaudhry leads the cheers as Matt Benito receives his award. Benito was honored Friday for saving the life of a guest who was choking.  Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Marco Hilton GM Mac Chaudhry leads the cheers as Matt Benito receives his award. Benito was honored Friday for saving the life of a guest who was choking. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Matt Benito listens as a Hilton corporate VP on speakerphone presents his award. Benito, of the Marco Hilton staff, was honored Friday for saving the life of a guest who was choking.  Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Matt Benito listens as a Hilton corporate VP on speakerphone presents his award. Benito, of the Marco Hilton staff, was honored Friday for saving the life of a guest who was choking. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— What does a hero look like? A hero looks like an ordinary person, the guy next door, who answers the call and does something extraordinary when extraordinary circumstances require.

To Mac Chaudhry, a hero looks like Matt Benito. Chaudhry, general manager of the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa on Collier Blvd., along with his senior staff, presented a Spirit of Blue Energy award to Benito on Friday afternoon, recognizing the young man for “true leadership and courage” in saving the life of a guest at the hotel who was choking.

Benito, a Marco Island resident who works as a server at the hotel’s outside tiki bar and banquets, when he is not busy with his studies as a student at Florida International University, thought he was coming in for a training class on Friday. But when he opened the door to Ballroom A, three dozen managers, chefs and supervisors, plus his parents and media representatives were waiting. They had Travis Diem, Hilton’s director for global culture and education on speaker phone, reading out the citation to honor Benito for his swift and decisive action. Even John Dougherty, Chaudhry’s boss, was on hand for the presentation of the system-wide award.

“A guest was choking, and you jumped in. You helped that guest when he needed you most,” said Diem. Another guest tried and failed to rectify the situation, and Benito used his training and the Heimlich maneuver to get the woman breathing again.

Matt Benito seemed a little taken aback by all the attention, remaining silent and almost stone-faced as all the bigwigs sang his praises, draped a medal on a ribbon over his neck, and crowned him with a kids’ party-type coronet. He did break a smile when he was told he would be receiving a check for $350.

The FIU sophomore economics major credited his education with the knowledge that allowed him to be a lifesaver, specifically his time as a student at Marco Island Charter Middle School, where as an eighth grader he was taught CPR.

The choking incident took place on July 13 this year, but Benito regularly receives favorable comments from hotel guests. As one recently noted, “Matt kept his cool on a day that he was busy running around the pool serving food and beverage. He was able to maintain his amazing customer service with a smile.”

As Matt’s training kicked in, he started serving the celebratory cake to the attendees at his fete, while his general manager and his parents, Louis and Addis Benito, stood by beaming.

“We want to send a message to all the kids on the island, that when you do good things, good things will come to you,” said Chaudhry. “With so much negative going on around the globe, we want to make a big deal of a good thing.”

“Matt is a good kid. He proves it all the time,” said his dad.

© 2013 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 5

captnjimbo writes:

Anybody that eats and talks at the same time is vulnerable and action is needed in seconds.

Hats off to this guy...right guy, right place, right time.

Mayor_McCheese writes:

Good for the Hilton to recognize this hero in their midst. Credit also goes to his parents who obviously raided him right and his school who set him well on his way.

Great story.

2themoon writes:

Another photo op for "Macs mug" ,see this guys face in the media more than Obamas....great job to to young man in saving a life, parents should be proud!

ajm3s writes:

The essence of "first responder"!

rpopoff writes:

So proud of you Matt!!!!!!! Most people run the other way when signs of trouble appear; hero's run toward the trouble!! You are a HERO.

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