Carnegie Medal presentation to Gerold Prather

Carnegie Hero Gerold Prather, left, was presented with the Carnegie Medal on Dec. 18, 2023, by U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, right, at his office in Portage, Michigan.

Carnegie Hero Gerold Prather poses with U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga after Huizenga presented the Kalamazoo resident with the Carnegie Medal at a private presentation held Dec. 18, at Huizenga’s Portage office.

Prather received the Carnegie Medal after he rescued a teenage boy from drowning on May 15, 2022. The boy and three others were at least 100 feet from the Lake Michigan shoreline, when they shouted for help and struggled to stay afloat. Prather, who was with another party on the beach, immediately swam to the boys in deep, cold water. As he reached a 16-year-old, they submerged and resurfaced. With difficulty Prather pushed the boy away from him, closer to the beach, and then positioned the boy on his back and towed him halfway back to shore. Once they reached wadable water, Prather shouted for help because he was quickly tiring. Another man waded to the pair and helped Prather bring the boy to the beach. Two of the other three boys died.

“Gerold Prather answered the call to save a total stranger at great risk to his own personal safety,” said Huizenga. “It is an incredible honor to present this award to Gerold because he embodies the very spirit of the Carnegie Medal. Gerold’s bravery is a tremendous example of how we can make a positive, life-changing difference in our community.”

In addition to receiving the Carnegie Medal, Huizenga presented Prather with an account of his heroism to be printed in the Congressional Record. The Congressional Record is the official record of history regarding proceedings, events, and debates that occur in Congress.

“I didn’t think I was going to be able to go through with it,” Prather told reporters about his rescue in a news interview. “But I just turned off my brain and tried to do what I could. I ended up grabbing the one boy and helped get the second.”

Huizenga represents Michigan’s fourth district.