Recognizing acts of selflessness

Published on October 12th, 2021

It’s a well told story of when Lawrence Lemieux sacrificed a Finn Olympic medal at the Seoul 1988 Games to rescue a 470 team in distress. Sailing in the fifth of the eight races, Lemieux was first in the race and second overall when something even more important grabbed his attention.

After assuring their safety, he rejoined the race but a poor result led to his seventh overall finish. While the Canadian lost out on something he had spent his entire life working on, his act of courage was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin Medal for Sportsmanship.

But recognition for acts of selflessness are not limited to the Olympics, so when Matt Brooks was rescued in the waters off of eastern Michigan, he created his own award to identify and celebrate the sacrifice of his those that came to his aid. Here is Matt’s story from October 12, 2021:

Three months ago today, I nearly drowned.

Celebrating with family and friends over a long July weekend in Caseville, I did something really stupid, magnified times three:
• I paddled WAY out into Saginaw Bay on a little kayak.
• I went out there alone.
• I didn’t have a life jacket.

You know I can be fairly impulsive on occasion. I saw a sailboat race happening out in the bay and figured I’d paddle out for a close up view, maybe even talk with some of the racers. Long story short, I did get all the way out there, but when I turned back toward shore, the kayak began taking on water. It filled up and capsized quickly. I clung to it, kicking and screaming for help for a long time.

Finally, just as I resigned myself to the grim reality that I had no energy left to keep up the fight… my legs weren’t responding anymore to my demands on them to keep kicking and my arms could barely hold onto the little bit of kayak still above water… my mind was disorientated and without hope… two sailboats broke away from their race to see what was happening.

Ulrich Gollwitzer and Liam Walz saved my life that day.

Feeling bad for costing these accomplished sailors a win that fateful day, I decided they deserved a special trophy. With the help of my pals at QCS and their 3D printer, we created two “1st Place Life-Saving Award” trophies. I delivered them to the guys last week. It felt great to thank them for a favor I can never truly repay them for.

For comments on Facebook, click here.

Editor’s note: This report has been corrected after initially referring to the incident occurring to Matt Bounds.

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