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Spring Ford Charter Night and Connelly Medal Presentation

Tuesday March 29, 2005 will always be a special event in the life of the Spring-Ford Kiwanis Club.  Not only did they receive their charter that night, those assembled for the event also witnessed the presentation of a Connelly Medal.  Connelly medals have been awarded by the Kiwanis International Foundation since 1967 the year after Chicago Kiwanian Robert P. Connelly lost his life in an attempt to rescue a disabled woman who had fallen in the path of an on-rushing passenger train.  In the past 38 years there have only been 500+ medals awarded worldwide.

The charter night celebration was organized by George Mansur, Immediate Past President Phoenixville Kiwanis Club, Jodi Vagnoni-Martin, President of Phoenixville Club, Bonnie Houpt, President of Lower Perkiomen Club and many other volunteers who helped canvass the area locating the 26 new Kiwanis members. 

Governor-Elect, Michael Frailey presented the New Club Building Awards to the individuals most closely involved in the birth of the Spring-Ford Club.  Governor William Brandamore had the honors of presenting the new club’s charter, officer pins and certificates along with some words of wisdom which included the fact that this is the second new club built in the Pennsylvania District this year and ties the PA District with the largest Kiwanis District, California-Nevada-Hawaii, for new clubs built this year.

Next was the presentation of the Connelly Medal to 21 year old Damion Smith who on the night of July 27, 2004 was driving past an accident scene where a car had run off the road and hit a tree.  The flames caught his eye as he was heading home about 3:30 in the morning. He saw the car wrapped around a tree, flames licking at the hood.  He immediately turned his car around on the deserted road and called 911 on his cell phone.  Once he approached the car he discovered the driver unconscious and pinned against the dash.  There was no passenger in the front seat but he heard young voices screaming, “Help! Help!''  Smith was worried the vehicle might explode.  He pulled on the door handles, desperate to get to the boys trapped in the back seat.  ''If you see two boys screaming in a car on fire, I don't know how anyone could not try to help them,'' Smith said.  All the doors were stuck but finally Smith was able to pull one of the boys out the side window and set him a safe distance from the burning truck while he returned for the child's brother.  The boys were unharmed, but their father was unconscious and stuck.  Smith called on his Army National Guard training to quickly check the boys for injuries and then dashed back to the car to try to rescue their father.  By then the flames were waist-high and Smith burned his hand trying to get through.  But it was a losing battle.  He was unable to pull the father from the flames. 

Smith had returned in April 2004 from a tour in Afghanistan with the 213th Area Support Group of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.  ''If I would have caught a red light, or if I had left my friend's house two minutes earlier, I wouldn't have caught them, I would have been too late,'' Smith said. ''I guess it was just the right time and the right place.''

Damion Smith again met the 2 young boys he saved.  Damion had not seen the boys since the accident and had never met their mother, aunt or grandmother.  Their grandmother said, “I just want to hug that young man who saved my two grandchildren.”  The pictures show the emotions.  The two young boys have decorated a picture frame containing their picture and have placed angels around the border.  The angels represent Damion who pulled them to safety.   

Division 17 Lt. Governor Bill Walters suggested a Connelly Medal to the Kiwanis International Foundation last July after reading about the accident.  “The Kiwanis Connelly Medal is meant for people who could have just passed by but instead chose to help.  If he had not stopped, a newspaper headline would have reported a father and two children died.  Damion stopped, assisted and saved two young children from probable death.”

A truly memorable event for the Spring-Ford Kiwanis Club Charter Night.

Click on the thumbnail for larger picture.
Gov Brandamore presents charter to new club Pres Phil White“I just want to hug that young man who saved my two grandchildren.”Gov Elect Mike Frailey address the dinner.
Kiwanis members socialize.Phoenixville Pres Jodi and Lower Perkiomen Pres BonnieJodi meets Damion and grandmother McCormickDamion and his parents meet long-time Kiwanis member John Wilbur Mack
Gov Bill meeting Donna McCormick and aunt Mary AnnGov Bill talks with DamionGov Elect Mike meets DamionThe boy's grandmother and Damion's motherKiwanian meeting the family
Damion meets a KiwanianGov Bill explains while Lt Gov Bill presents Connelly Medal to Damion and Michael looks onGov Bill looks on as Lt Gov Bill presents Damion with a $500 Patriot Savings Bond
Ryan and Michael McCormick presents "angel" picture frame to DamionThe brothers are being brothers!Damion showing off to the grandmother the "stone tablet" the boys made.Donna McCormick thanking Damion for the first time.Gov Bill with Damion while Michael is reading the newspaper article about Damion their "angel."
The McCormick family with the Smith family flanked by Gov Bill Brandamore and Lt Gov Bill Walters.
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