By John Bush
LIMA — Shane Kelly doesn’t consider himself a hero, but that didn’t stop his friends, family and Kiwanis International from celebrating his heroic act of saving a man from drowning.
On Tuesday, Kelly received the Kiwanis International Foundation Robert P. Connelly Medal of Heroism during a meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Lima.
Kiwanis awards the Medal of Heroism to an individual who has risked or given his or her life to save someone else. This recognition has honored more than 600 individuals from across the world, each of whom has exemplified the sacrifice given by Robert Connelly, who lost his life while trying to save a woman who had fallen in the path of an oncoming commuter train.
Kelly, a newspaper carrier for The Lima News, risked his life to save Steven Bergeron, who was drowning after being swept away in a flash flood. The region had been hit with rain for several days before the incident.
On June 22 and June 23, a record amount of rain — more than 8 inches — would fall in a short period. This caused Elida Road to flood.
Kelly was in his car parked in the high ground of The Lima News waiting for the newspapers he was to deliver when he noticed Bergeron struggling for his life in about 10 to 12 feet of water. Kelly swam about 100 yards out to Bergeron and saved him.
“I was just doing what anyone else would do,” Kelly said. “I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
Tasha, Kelly’s wife, said what her husband did was nothing short of heroic.
“Even though he doesn’t admit it, he’s a hero,” she said. “I’m so proud of him.”
Kelly’s mother, Susan Gamble, said her son has been a selfless and compassionate person his whole life.
“If somebody’s in trouble, he’s going to risk his life or do whatever he can to help them,” Gamble said. “Shane would help anybody. He’s just that type of person.”
Amy Zimmerman, governor of the Ohio District of Kiwanis International, presented Kelly with the award.
“Shane is so deserving because he saw someone in need, and risked his life to save that individual,” Zimmerman said. “That’s really a heroic act, and he deserves this award that only a small number of people have ever received.”
Kelly said he was humbled to receive the award, and hopes his three boys will be proud of him when they’re old enough to truly understand what their father had done.
“I hope they’re proud of me,” he said, “and I’d like them to think their father did something really good.”
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima.