Paragon Charter Academy didn’t have to look any further than one of its third-grade classrooms to celebrate a true hero at a schoolwide assembly Monday morning.
Nine-year-old Kendal Wadsworth was in awe and even became a little choked up in front of more than 600 of his classmates as he received a Heroism Award from Boy Scouts of America for rescuing a 3-year-old girl from drowning in November 2009.
While staying at a hotel just southwest of Chicago, Kendal, then 7, saw a young girl slip out of her life vest in the deep end of the swimming pool.
His father, Michael, said the pool area was congested, so he yelled out to his son, who swam right over and brought her to safety.
“I went after her, and I thought she was going to drown,” Kendal said, pausing several times to collect himself, “but I grabbed her and took her to the shallow end, where her dad came and got her.”
Michael Wadsworth said at the time Kendal was still a “little scared of the deep end,” but he reacted like he was trained to respond, something that still amazes the Summit Township father.
Michael Wadsworth was overcome by emotions Monday as Kendal shared his story with other students.
“I used to be in scouting — I was a Cub Scout, too — so it was really kind of déjà vu again and reminded me of myself when I was little,” he said. “We talk about stuff like it all the time in classes and with Cub Scouts — kind of the, ‘What would you do if…?’ — and we just had that situation come up and he was prepared for it.”
On Monday, Michael Wadsworth experienced the joy of pinning the Heroism Award medal to his son’s Cub Scout uniform — a distinguished honor that only 149 scouts received in 2010.
Kendal also was awarded a certificate and a red and white square knot he can wear on his uniform if he becomes a scout leader.
“The Heroism Award may be awarded to a youth member or adult leader who has demonstrated heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save life at minimum risk to self,” said award presenter Mike Whitner, the district advancement chairman for Chief Lenape Trails.
Several of Kendal’s family members, as well as leaders from his Cub Scout group, Pack 440, celebrated his efforts.
“(I’ve learned) that your life isn’t the only thing in the world that matters, and you can save others,” Kendal said.
As published in the Jackson Citizen Patriot on May 10, 2011