GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Kaliyah Rutledge remembers how scared she was when she realized she could barely breathe.
"I was panicking," the 10-year-old girl said.
A piece of cheese got stuck in her throat while eating lunch in the library at Bessemer Elementary School on Monday.
"It felt like I had a big rock in my throat," said the fourth grader.
She tried to get it out.
"I had pushed, kicked the chair back a little bit and then I had stood up and started coughing a little bit," she said.
But thankfully, help was just a few feet away.
Principal Ronald Dixon says the school's media specialist Ms. Motley-Mims saw Kaliyah choking and jumped into action.
"The child was clearly struggling to breathe so she administered the Heimlich maneuver," he said.
Kaliyah's mom Tera Rutledge says without that quick-thinking the situation could have been much worse.
"I could have lost my child if she wasn't there," she said.
"Anything could have happened."
But it didn't -- an outcome both Kaliyah and her mom say they're grateful for.
"I wanted to thank her for saving my life," Kaliyah said.