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Today's Family Magazine

Local Girl Scout receives national life-saving award

Girl Scout Brownie Elizabeth (Ellie) Costanzo was awarded Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA)’s Medal of Honor for saving the life of a family friend during a trip to her grandparents’ lake house.  The Girl Scout Medal of Honor is presented to Girl Scouts who have performed acts of heroism beyond the degree of maturity and training expected for their age. 

Ellie was awarded the Medal of Honor along with a congratulatory letter from GSUSA in a ceremony at Church of the Gesu in University Heights on Monday, May 3.  Girl Scouts of North East Ohio (GSNEO) Chief Executive Officer Jane Christyson presented her award.

While visiting her grandparents’ lake house, Ellie was standing on their dock with her siblings and two family friends.  Her brother was fishing on the dock and had a bite on his line, but soon after the fish bit, it swam under the dock.  At that moment, one of the family friends on the dock, who was 3 years old at the time, bent down to look at the fish and fell into the water.  Ellie saw him having trouble breathing and struggling to stay above water because the water was too deep for him.  Sensing the danger, but knowing she was able to stand in the water herself, Ellie jumped in and pulled him out, putting him on the ladder of the dock. From there, her family was able to pull him completely out of the water and on to the dock to safety.

Ellie recognized the danger and thought quickly to save her family friend from the water.

“Because of her quick thinking and willingness to jump right into action, someone’s life was saved,” said Christyson.  “It takes courage and confidence to do what she did, and we are happy to present her with this national award.”

Girl Scouts have been honored since 1913 for meritorious deeds that have helped save lives.  Training in health and safety is a part of the Girl Scout program.  A Girl Scout, because of the promise and law to which she has subscribed, is expected to be resourceful, skilled, and competent – to have presence of mind and to be of service to others.  Each situation has many unique factors, and many things are taken into consideration for determining if an act is of unusual bravery beyond that which is expected of a Girl Scout.

Since its inception, GSUSA has continued to award this honor to girls.  From 1998-2020, GSUSA has bestowed this honor on more than 500 Girl Scouts and GSNEO has had the pleasure to recognize 11 of their very own girls with this national honor.