Carnegie Hero Fund Commission President Eric P. Zahren presented the Carnegie Medal to the family of Carnegie Hero Dennis D. Swenson in a private ceremony held Aug. 20, 2017 in Kingfield, Maine. Swenson’s medal was accepted by his sister, Cheryl Surowiec.

Swenson was posthumously awarded the Carnegie Medal in December 2016. He died attempting to save his mother, Dorothy H. Swenson, from their burning home on May 1, 2015 in Cornucopia, Wisc.

Dennis became alerted to the fire and was seen outside the house by a responding neighbor using a fire extinguisher against flames that were issuing from underneath the porch. Taking a second fire extinguisher with him, Dennis entered the structure, telling the neighbor he was going to get his mother. Flames grew quickly to engulf the house, and he was not seen again.

Family and friends of Swenson, Surowiec, and her husband, Brent Surowiec, gathered to view a video about the history of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission and its heroes, before Zahren read the official award summary detailing Swenson’s sacrificial act and presented the Carnegie Medal to Cheryl Surowiec.

“Dennis Swenson certainly embodied Carnegie’s ideal,” Zahren said. “In the midst of so much heartache while we mourn the tragic loss of both Dennis and Dorothy, we celebrate the enduring heart of the heroes who give us hope and continue to inspire us through their selfless sacrifice. Let us allow Dennis’s example to make us better people and ours a better society for his having reminded us of what it truly means to be a hero.”

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