The American Red Cross will award the Certificate of Merit, their highest honor to Kinzley Kurth of Vinton. The certificate is only for Red Cross trained individuals and off-duty professional responders. The certificate is also signed by the President of the United States.
Shawna Kurth, mother of the nominee, shared the following incident which happened while on vacation in Cancun.
"Our hotel room wasn't ready when we arrived so they kept our luggage for us. Kinz and I were the only ones who wore swimsuits so everyone else just chilled and napped while we swam in the ocean until after supper when they got their suits. Everyone was so excited to finally get in!
The lifeguards were just leaving for the night as Javan and Kinz ran into the ocean. He told them they could swim but no one was watching them. Kenna and I took some photos in front of the beautiful "cotton candy" colored sky before Kenna joined them in the water. A few minutes went by and they yelled for me to come in with them. I honestly had had enough of ocean swimming from earlier in the day but figured if they are asking, I wasn't about to say no.
I think I only "jumped" maybe 4 waves with them before all of us went underwater after one wave. We couldn't get our footing and after a few minutes, Javan said, "guys I think we are in a riptide/rip current. We need to swim diagonal and get out of this." Everything that happened next all went really fast (but felt like forever) but Kinz and Javan were able to get back to shore but Kenna and I panicked and kept sucking in saltwater without being able to touch bottom.
The waves kept hitting us over and over and kept moving farther and farther from shore. At this point, it was getting dark and there were only a few people onshore. I kept screaming for Tim on shore to get help but he said it looked like we were just standing still and playing in the water and couldn't hear us yelling for help.
All I remember is Kenna saying, "Mom, I'm not sure how much longer I can stay above water" with a look of panic all over her face. All the while I am trying to make it to her and keep getting pushed farther away from her. I am screaming for her to swim diagonal and screaming at Kinz and J to stop coming back towards us.
The next thing I know Kenna is on Javan's back and he is pulling her to shore. I'm still yelling at Kinz to GET TO SHORE when she uses her lifeguarding skills and somehow get her arm under me and swims us out of the current to shore. I seriously have no idea how she and J had the energy/strength to not only swim but pull us too.
As my feet finally hit the sand, I see Tim in the water pulling Kenna from Javan. She stands on the shore and looks like she is about to pass out. All I could think was she was going to hit her head and roll back into the ocean. Finally, we all made it out of the water where we collapsed from physical exhaustion. Our legs were so shaky and it took our hearts so long to stop racing.
Later, I "yelled" at Kinz for leaving the shore to come back and get me and she said, "Mom you were green and looked like you were going to pass out. I'm not sure you could have made it back alone." And to be honest, I'm not sure either. I was taking in so much water screaming at everyone to get shore that I couldn't even think about what to do to save myself.
So, while it was terrible and terrifying and we were all so shaken up, how thankful I am for Kinzley's lifeguard training, how strong of swimmers she and Javan are, how fortunate we were that they had just eaten and had strength, and for their ability to keep calm despite the scary circumstances. I have no doubt they saved Kenna and I. I've never been prouder of two kids in my life."
The virtual presentation will take place on Wednesday, December 15 at 12:00 p.m. To watch the presentation, click on the link below:
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For more information about the awards, click here.