For many downhill skiers, the 10-minute ride up the chairlift at Hilltop ski area is the most innocuous part of the day. On Feb. 5, it was a nightmare for six-year-old Will Olendorff and his father, Stephen Olendorff.

About halfway up the lift, Olendorff’s heart stopped due to congestive heart failure.

“He was falling down on me and he was making a weird voice,” Will said.

Will grabbed onto his father to prevent him from falling and immediately started yelling for help.

“They stopped the chairlift when [we] got up,” he explained.

Members of the ski patrol resuscitated Olendorff and helped keep him alive before paramedics took over and he was taken to Alaska Regional Hospital.

On Wednesday, Anchorage police officers and firefighters presented Will with an award for his courage. He was also given a Toys ‘R’ Us gift certificate and six ski passes to Hilltop for when he’s ready to be on the mountain again.

“He really took charge in that situation and he rose to the challenge,” said his dad, who was at the award ceremony.

He added that Will “understands the scope of what he did,” and thanked all of the first responders for making sure this story had “a happy ending.”

Olendorff said that he spent eight days in the hospital and has had a pacemaker installed.

“I literally died, and the fact that I’m even able to talk again has taken some time to process,” Ollendorf said. “I’d say, ‘If you keep progressing the way you are right now, as a young man, you’re going to make one heck of a human being.’ And I would be just amazed for that to be my son.”

KTVA 11’s Eric Ruble can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

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