Courtesy USA Today

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A young Palestinian-American nursing school graduate in Buffalo and a career police officer from Yonkers ordinarily might not have much in common.

But fate brought the two together 20 years ago, after 2-month-old Shammarah Hamideh went limp and stopped breathing. It was then-Sgt. Joseph Barca who arrived first outside the apartment building where the father stood crying with a lifeless baby in his arms. Barca cleared an airway obstruction and breathed life back into her on the way to the hospital.

On Aug. 17, Hamideh will be married outside Chicago. Barca and his wife, Helen, will be there.

"He's so sweet," Hamideh said by phone Thursday. "He's very considerate — every year on my birthday, he sends me a birthday card and check. They treat me like I'm their daughter."

"Her parents refer to me as her American father," said Barca, a captain who has three children — one schoolteacher and two Yonkers police officers.

He remembers Dec. 28, 1993, clearly.

"This is one job you don't forget about," Barca said.