Marcos Ugarte earns Kiwanis Medal of Heroism Award

Marcos Ugarte, the Troutdale teen who saved an 8-year-old neighbor from a burning home last September, will receive a coveted award from the Kiwanis International Foundation for his heroism.

by: OUTLOOK FILE PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Honored for saving a boy from a burning house last fall, Marcos Ugarte earned the Kiwanis clubs Robert P. Connelly Medal of Heroism Award.The Kiwanis club in Troutdale will present Ugarte the Robert P. Connelly Medal of Heroism Award at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, in front of the Troutdale General Store, 289 E. Columbia River Highway.

Forty-seven years ago, Kiwanian Robert Connelly was selling peanuts at a train stop in Lisle, Ill., when he saw a woman with artificial legs walking near the tracks lose her balance and fall in front of an oncoming train.

Connelly, 34, leapt to the woman’s rescue and tried to drag her from the tracks.

But the engine was moving too fast and unable to stop.

The train took both their lives.

In tribute to Connelly’s selfless actions, the Kiwanis International board of trustees established the Robert P. Connelly Medal of Heroism “for service beyond the call of duty.”

Connelly was awarded posthumously, one year after his death.

The significance of the award is summarized in the Kiwanis statement from 1967: “By his unselfish action, he put tremendous and dramatic meaning into the phrase ‘personal involvement,’ which is so much a part of Kiwanis philosophy. This man was the epitome of all that Kiwanis strives to be.”

On Friday, Troutdale Kiwanis Club President Jim Jackson will award Ugarte for “his bravery and for being a true hero,” the club announced.

Last September, 14-year-old Ugarte was doing his Spanish homework when his parents heard neighbors screaming for help after their house, four houses away, had caught fire. When Marcos Ugarte and his father, Eduardo, ran to help, the Ma family was outside the house, except for a boy trapped on the second floor. After Eduardo Ugarte tried but failed to reach the boy, Marcos grabbed a ladder, climbed up, punched through a screen window and retrieved Cody Ma, wrapping him in his arms as he stepped back down the ladder.

Firefighters congratulated Marcos and his father for their brave efforts, and the Ma family thanked them for saving their son.

The young man has received quite a bit of fame since last fall, Jackson said, and the local Kiwanis club has been keeping track, saving newspaper clippings to present to the board at the Kiwanis International convention in July.

Ugarte was one of four winners last year and the first minor to receive the Citizen Service Before Self award, presented by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

The Kiwanis thought Ugarte should receive another award for his acts, the Robert P. Connelly Medal of Heroism Award, Jackson said.

Kiwanis is a global organization with more than 600,000 members. It is dedicated to helping improve the lives of children.

Since its founding in 1915, the Kiwanis International Foundation has awarded more than 600 Kiwanians all over the world who have risked their lives to save another.

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