BOSTON (CBS) — A Gardner woman who saved a man from drowning is this year’s recipient of the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Bravery, an honor given annually on September 11 in Boston. Annette Szivos was announced as this year’s recipient on Saturday.
The award is named after Madeline “Amy” Sweeney, who was working on American Airlines Flight 11 – the hijacked plane that hit the first tower on Sept. 11, 2001. She contacted her flight’s ground services crew to tell them about the attackers before the plane hit the World Trade center.
On every anniversary of the tragic day, the award is presented to a civilian who showed the bravery she did.
On June 23, Szivos and her grandchildren heard cries at Dunn State Park near a body of water. Soon, she discovered a man having trouble staying afloat, and jumped into action and swam into the water. With the help of another civilian, Michael Morrison, they helped bring the man to shore.
“It was discovered that the man had several brain bleeds, requiring immediate surgery. We now know that had Annette and others not been there, and if they wasted any time, the man would have drowned,” said Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.
After Szivos was honored, Morrison, who was in attendance at the ceremony in Boston, received a recognition from Gov. Charlie Baker.
Sweeney’s daughter, Anna, was also at the presentation, where she spoke about her mom’s life and the award.
“My mom’s life was lightning in a bottle. It was over far too soon, but it was powerful, captivating, and rare,” said Anna Sweeney. “[The award] celebrates life and the ability of the human spirit to move beyond concern for oneself, and to act with concern for others, even in the face of potentially devastating consequences.”