BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. - A Minnesota boy is being called a hero after helping save his friend's life during a canoe trip.
The 10-year-old was given a rare national award from the Boy Scouts on Saturday. Being a Cub Scout, he is younger than most who receive it.
Antonio Vandal and his dad Rocky Vandal of Saint Paul embarked on their first ever canoe trip in 2010. The last thing Antonio expected to catch on that trip was national recognition for saving a friend's life.
Richard Neuner, volunteer president of the Northern Star Council of Boy Scouts presented Antonio with the National Certificate of Merit in front of scout leadership at Saint Alphonsus Catholic Church in Brooklyn Center.
It's an award usually give to older Boy Scouts. Of the approximately one-point-five million Cub Scouts in the United States, Antonio was just one of seven boys to receive this award for 2011.
Neuner said Antonio was able to save his friend's life by, "fulfilling the motto of being prepared."
In 2010 when Antonio was just nine, he and dad prepared for their first ever canoe trip with friends by using the Boy Scout Canoeing Merit Badge book, practicing with a canoe in a local lake.
Antonio said they went over, "Back strokes, stabilizing and bringing a kid into the boat without swamping... hoping that we wouldn't have to use it." But they did.
Then they went canoeing on the Namekagon River near Hayward with their friends. On the second day of the trip Rocky said, "We came around this blind curve. We saw our friends' canoe had capsized."
A boy, not wearing a lifejacket, had been tossed into the rapids.
Rocky said, "You could see his hands come up and disappear."
Antonio said, "Then I said, 'Let's go Dad!' And then I'm like calling to [the boy] to keep his confidence up and that we were going to be there." Antonio continued, "We went full speed into the rapids."
According to Rocky, "I said, 'Antonio, stabilize the canoe, just like we practiced!"
Antonio did what his dad asked. He said he, "Dropped down to my knees, stabilized it."
Rocky continued, "Whatever he did, it was successful. Because if our canoe had capsized we wouldn't have been in a position to help out the child."
The boy was bigger than Antonio so Rocky pulled the boy into the boat. Then Antonio helped paddle their canoe out of the swirling rapids.
They say the boy had bumps and bruises but was otherwise O.K.
And now Antonio has quite a trophy to hang on his wall.
Looking at his award he said, "Only seven Webelos scouts as young as I am have received the National Certificate of Merit."
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)