Albany County Executive Dan McCoy honored two Shaker High School students as Citizens of the Month, for their heroic efforts to save their six-year old neighbor’s life this past summer. When Teresa Mawn went missing, her parents Steve and Mary were terrified. Teresa has special needs and they had never lost track of her before.
“The Albany County Sheriff’s Office had said to me after, you usually need to find the child within the first hour,” said Mary Mawn.
Shaker students Gerard Rhatigan and Ben Olsen, along with Ben’s mother Patricia, searched the neighborhood and found Teresa in a nearby pool, struggling to stay afloat. They were able to save her life by pulling her from the water.
“They found her struggling in the center of the pool,” said Mawn. “Just a few minutes more, and it would have been very different.”
Every month, County Executive McCoy recognizes someone who has gone above and beyond to make the community a better place to live. For the month of October, he chose to feature Rhatigan and the Olsens.
“To rescue her and to make a difference is everything that I am proud of as County Executive: to have citizens like you, who went out there selflessly and did an extraordinary deed,” said McCoy.
Both Rhatigan and Olsen said they were humbled to receive the recognition.
“I’d like to thank my parents for raising me to do the right thing,” said Rhatigan. “I’m very honored to receive this award.”
“A sign in our locker room says ‘Teamwork: It’s crazy how much we can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit’,” added Olsen. “I know Gerard will agree with me; neither of us were looking for this credit that we’re getting right now.”
Rhatigan and Olsen were supposed to be on their way to football practice that afternoon when Mawn went missing. Rhatigan’s younger brother was the first one who alerted them that she had wandered, and the search began immediately.
“We look at our jobs in schools as building citizens, building people of character, and building people of compassion,” said Superintendent Joseph Corr. “The actions of the two you exemplify that.”
“On the stairs as you walk in, we have a quote that says character is doing right, when no one else is looking,” added Shaker High School Principal, Richard Murphy. “Ben Olsen and Gerard Rhatigan showed us that they’re individuals who put others’ needs in front of their own needs. They are truly virtuous young men.”
Mawn says her daughter now wears a Project Lifesaver bracelet around her ankle at all times and is taking swim lessons from a woman who coaches Special Olympics.
Category: District News