Groomsmen have been coming to the rescue since wedding ceremonies began. But Lance Wilden, 24, of Davenport, formerly of Clinton, took his role a step further Saturday when he grabbed a toddler who went into the lagoon at Vander Veer Botanical Park, Davenport.
Wilden’s sister Larissa and Marty Resner, along with their wedding party, were at the park for wedding pictures. Wilden happened to be looking around the park, and “I saw this little youngster walking toward the water,” he said.
He saw the toddler reach the edge of the water, where the little boy started bouncing and then went in.
“I have a very long wingspan, so I was able to reach out and grab him,” said Wilden, who was wearing a full tuxedo from Ducky’s.
The parents came running up to the little boy and to thank Wilden, who told them “No problem.” After all, he said, kids “are small and they’re pretty quick.”
In the meantime, an usher lent Wilden a jacket so the picture-taking could continue, and a bridesmaid called Ducky’s, who had another tuxedo ready in 20 minutes.
“It was the lifeguard in me,” said Wilden, who was a lifeguard for five years primarily at the Clinton Municipal Pool (he also has taught swimming lessons and was a member of the Clinton High School swim team). He credits his mom, June Wilden, who was a lifeguard instructor, for giving him the tools he needed to be a lifeguard.
Lance Wilden works in security at a local hospital, where he says his “head is always kind of on a swivel” just as it was when he was a lifeguard.
Later, after Wilden’s sister tied the knot at Schwiebert Park in Rock Island, their father Raymond Wilden, of Clinton, “got a little bit emotional” during his speech.
“He was very proud,” Lance Wilden said.
Meanwhile, the mother of the little boy has posted a thank-you on Facebook.
“I’m glad the little guy’s OK,” Wilden said.