Boy's heroic efforts earn him a national award from Boy Scouts

NEIGHBORS

June 08, 1994|By PAT BRODOWSKI

What began with a mother's intuition and her son's quick action in a swimming pool resulted in a national award from the Boy Scouts of America.

John Thomas Danza, an 8-year-old Cub Scout in Pack 790, Hampstead, was recognized May 15 with the Boy Scout Medal for Heroism, an embroidered patch for his uniform and a certificate that read in part, "For demonstrating heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save life at minimum risk to self."

Todd Walter, Carroll District executive of the Boy Scouts, presented Johnny with the award during the scout pack's annual Blue and Gold banquet.

Johnny is a strong swimmer. He was able to float in a pool at 6 months, has taken swimming lessons since he was 3 and now, at 8, will enter the intermediate-level Red Cross swimming program.

One weekend in January 1993, Johnny was in his element, the 8-foot deep end of the indoor pool at the Quality Inn at 54th Street in Ocean City. His parents, John and Judy Danza, and other family members were deep in conversation behind a wall separating them from the pool.

Mrs. Danza, glancing toward Johnny, saw a preschooler step unattended near the pool.

"I thought that boy is not going to swim. I thought his parents were sitting [nearby]," said Mrs. Danza. But with a mother's intuition, she took another look.

"I looked back a second later, and he had gone under in the four-foot section."

Mrs. Danza called to Johnny, who was swimming only a yard or two from the boy.

"That boy is going to drown!" she screamed. Mr. Danza, a former Baltimore County police officer, jumped the wall to head for the pool. He saw his son reach the child.

"His weight was so much that Johnny went under three times," said Mr. Danza. "Johnny kept pushing up. I thought he would have to let him go. He didn't."

Johnny remembers, "I heard my dad call, 'Look! There's somebody drowning!'

"I saw a boy swimming without his bubble. I guess I held his chin above the water, and I pulled him up to the steps.

"He started coughing up water. Then we found his parents and they thanked me."

Finding the child's parents took the efforts of a front desk clerk. The parents were unaware the boy had slipped out of their room, and the bewildered 4-year-old from New Jersey didn't know which room was his.

"You see things like this on [television] and you think, this isn't really going to happen," Mrs. Danza said. "But he just walked into the water. It was just lucky I turned around to see him in the pool."

Pulling children to safety is not new to her son. At his grandparents' pool, he averted tragedy twice. He pulled his sister, Amanda, from the water after she rolled overboard at 18 months and his cousin Casey when she wandered from a family gathering at age 3.

Johnny was 7 years old, a first-year Cub Scout, when he pulled the 4-year-old from the pool. While working for his "God and Me" award, his life-saving came into conversation with his pastor, the Rev. Owen Womack at St. John's United Methodist Church in Hampstead. Mr. Womack initiated Johnny's application for the national award.

"I would like to thank everybody who helped me receive this recognition," said Johnny, proudly displaying his medal, certificate and embroidered patch.

*

The first North Carroll Area Choral Concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. tonight at North Carroll High School, 3801 Hampstead-Mexico Road, in Hampstead.

The concert is free.

This unusual concert combines the school choruses from Hampstead, Manchester and Spring Garden elementary schools.

The Hampstead Elementary chorus, under the direction of Julia Hollenberg, will sing about friendship in French, Spanish and Hebrew.

The Spring Garden Elementary chorus, directed by Ida Lea Rubin, will present a collection of sea shanties and an Old English poem.

Manchester Elementary, under direction of Lana Furbay, will include folk dancing with its selections of American folk music.

The concert will open and close with almost 300 fourth- and fifth-grade students from all three schools combining voices to sing "Hymn To Freedom," written in 1986 for the International Children's Chorus, and "To Music," a 16th-century German chorale.

Information: Ida Lea Rubin, 374-9202.

*

The annual mammoth yard sale of the Robert's Field Homeowners Association will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday on the grounds of Spring Garden Elementary School, 700 Boxwood Drive, Hampstead.

To reach the school, turn east onto Northwoods Trail at the McDonald's on Route 30. From Northwoods, turn right at the stop sign to Boxwood.

There will be more than 75 tables this year, said organizer Maureen Laderer. The sale will happen, rain or shine.

"This year, one family will sell baked goods to benefit the Families of S.M.A. [which stands for spinal muscular atrophy] society, in honor of their child [Erin Marie Trainor] who died at 5 months from infantile Lou Gehrig's disease," she said. "And you can count on Paul Kraushofer grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, too."

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