Long Beach Middle School seventh grader Joseph Lattanzi was honored for his heroic actions that saved a drowning swimmer last summer. The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America presented him with a Heroism Award during a ceremony held outside the district’s Administration Building on June 19.
Joseph and his parents were joined by Board of Education Trustee Anne Conway, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jennifer Gallagher, Boy Scouts of America officers and Troop 332 leaders and scouts. Also in attendance were Long Beach Middle School teachers, New York State Senator Todd Kaminsky, Assemblywoman Melissa Miller, Town of Hempstead Councilman Anthony D’Esposito and John McQuade, an Eagle Scout and former Troop 332 member who spoke on behalf of Legislator Denise Ford.
Troop 332 Committee Chair Edward Schenk and Theodore Roosevelt Council Commissioner Peter Shields facilitated the event and Mr. Shields shared Joseph’s inspiring story as well as details about the award. It was during a family vacation in Pennsylvania that Joseph noticed Patricia Burns was trapped beneath her kayak that had flipped. Joseph jumped into the lake and swam over 50 feet, helped Ms. Burns get safely to shore and checked to see if she had any injuries or wounds. Joseph has received training from the Boy Scouts program, his swim team and his father, who is a first responder.
“It means a lot to me that I saved somebody,” Joseph said. “I was really hopeful that I wouldn’t get hurt during this but I am happy that I saved them because I’ve known them for a long time.”
Joseph was presented with his medal along with a Challenge Point in recognition of heroism and bravery from Councilman D’Esposito and citations from the four public officials. Many speakers shared their praise and encouraged Joseph to continue his exemplary efforts as a scout.
“We are all so proud of you,” said Board of Education Trustee Anne Conway. “What you did was amazing. You just did it because it was the right thing to do, and that shows a lot of character.”
“On behalf of everyone in the school district, we are so proud of you,” Dr. Gallagher said. “You’ve done something that most people don’t achieve in their lifetime.”
Ms. Burns also addressed Joseph and expressed her gratitude.
“He saved me when I was going under, he was just there and he performed like a scout should,” Ms. Burns said. “I was very happy that he was there.”