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.
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
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
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.''
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.
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.