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Sweeney Award Posthumously Presented To 10-Year-Old Salem Hero

BOSTON (CBS) — Jaydon Dancy was just ten years old when he dove into the harbor near his Salem home to try to save a kayaker in distress.

One year later–and three months after Jaydon’s tragic death–he was honored at the Massachusetts State House with the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery, an award named after a 9/11 hero.

“Faced with an urgent and hazardous situation where a neighbor was in distress, Jaydon’s first instinct was to plunge into the water and offer assistance without hesitation,” Gov. Charlie Baker said during the ceremony Monday.

Jaydon’s mother Michelle accepted the award on behalf of her son.

“It’s an incredible honor for him to be receiving this award,” Michelle told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens. “I just love him so much and I miss him. I wish he could be here to receive this himself–but I know he’d be shy about coming up.”

The Sweeney Award was created in the memory of flight attendant Madeline “Amy” Sweeney of Acton. She was working on Flight 11 on September 11, 2001–the hijacked plane that hit the first tower. Before the plane hit the World Trade Center, Sweeney contacted her flight’s ground services crew to tell them about the attackers.

Each year on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, it is presented to someone who showed that same measure of bravery.

More: Massachusetts Marks 16th Anniversary Of 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

“In his short life, Jaydon demonstrated the same character and courage as the heroes of September 11, 2001, and it is our privilege to give this award to him and honor his memory and life,” Baker said.

jaydon gets award Sweeney Award Posthumously Presented To 10 Year Old Salem Hero

Jaydon Dancy shown in 2016 being honored for his attempt to rescue the kayaker. (Photo credit: WBZ-TV)

Speakers recounted how Jaydon swam to the kayaker on August 19, 2016, taking hold of him and pulling him to shore. That man did not survive, but Jaydon was honored by the Salem Police and Fire Departments, by his classmates, and by the American Red Cross for his efforts.

“I feel so proud, I feel so honored,” said Michelle Dancy. “But I’ll always be amazed by what he did when he tried to save the man.”

Jaydon’s mother says she always taught him to help those in need, but is still in awe of just how much he took those words to heart that day.

“He had just jumped into the water because he saw a man had fallen out of his kayak, and he swam quite a distance and he pulled the man to shore–and his kayak–and he was only ten years old,” Michelle said.

Jaydon was killed when he was hit by an MBTA Commuter Rail train on July 9, 2017, while he was trying to retrieve his bike from the other side of the tracks.

salemmemorial Sweeney Award Posthumously Presented To 10 Year Old Salem Hero

A sign remembers Jayden Dancy, a Salem boy struck and killed by a train. (WBZ-TV)

“The Madeline Amy Sweeney awards are presented to individuals who act selflessly and without regard for their own safety to help others in need,” Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said. “Jaydon Dancy certainly met this standard and his bravery will long be remembered by the proud members of his community.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports

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