Carnegie Hero Kevin Conklin, 19, examines the Carnegie Medal with Hero Fund President Eric Zahren, right, while Conklin’s mother Qiang Conklin and stepfather Michael Shaughnessy look on. Hero Fund staff had the honor on Aug. 9, 2023, of presenting the medal to Conklin at the Fund’s Pittsburgh offices. In addition, Zahren informed the family that the Hero Fund would provide a $7,000 check to Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, for Conklin’s next semester of higher education.
“Andrew Carnegie said, ‘For exceptional children, exceptional grants may be made for exceptional education,’” said Zahren. “So it is my pleasure to inform you that your scholarship application has been approved and we will be mailing this check to your university.”
Conklin, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was 16 in August 2020, when he entered at 5-foot, flooded ditch after a 6-year-old who had been playing in the ditch disappeared from sight. Conklin was on a walk with his mom in the park near his home when the boy submerged.
“We couldn’t stand by and watch a little kid drown,” Qiang Conklin told Hero Fund staff as she recounted the event.
Conklin immediately waded into the flood water and submerged multiple times trying to find the boy, who had been swept into a drain pipe, which extended 25 feet beneath a two-lane road. After many attempts, Conklin was also swept into the pipe. Both boys tumbled into the swollen stream at the other end of the pipe, the swift current carrying them downstream, where others helped them exit the stream. Both boys suffered bumps and bruises, but they recovered.
Zahren thanked Conklin’s family for traveling to Pittsburgh for the presentation.
“Of course,” Qiang Conklin said. “We wanted to meet everyone who helped honor Kevin.”