OKLAHOMA CITY - A special search and rescue mission at John Rex Elementary School has one maintenance man being hailed as a hero by a little girl. The importance of school support staff was highlighted during Dustin Hughes's quest to save a missing tooth.

For a kid, losing your first tooth is one of your first major milestones, but in this case, it was almost lost for good.

Sophie Alexander, 6, had been wiggling her front tooth for days, having waited for it to fall even longer than any of her classmates.

“I was really sad in that moment because I really wanted my tooth to pop out, right now!” she exclaimed.

When it finally did, she was so excited to show off her souvenir that she and her 9-year-old sister went to wash it off in the water fountain. The excitement quickly washed away, along with the tooth.

“My tooth fell in there and she tried to stop it,” Sophie said, pointing to the drain.

In clear view, just out of reach, sat Sophie's tooth.

Assistant Head of School Molly Goldsworthy saw Sophie and her sister moments later. “It wasn’t any kind of regular tears,” she remembered seeing. “It was true heartbreak.”

Goldsworthy turned to the one person who could help. District maintenance man Dustin Hughes has a background in plumbing.

“He immediately went to his truck and said I’m up for this, and we can definitely save her tooth,” Goldsworthy said.

The next morning, Hughes brought Sophie a surprise.

“Dustin said to me, I think I want to hold money in one hand and a tooth in the other, and I’m going to give her a choice and see which one she’ll pick,” recalled Goldsworthy.

“And I chose my tooth,” said Sophie, “because it was very special to me.”

“It’s something that they never forget, so we like to make it a true moment in time,” Goldsworthy said. “This moment just wound up being a little more extraordinary and memorable.”

Sophie plans to keep a much closer eye on the future teeth she loses, and keep them far away from any drains.