Middletown teens who rescued kids from icy pond will split $7,500
A group of five teenagers from Middletown has been honored with cash for their heroic efforts, saving two young children from an icy pond while sledding this past winter.
Kieran Foley, Joseph Dietrich, Drew Scalice, Ryan Day and Tyler Armagan, dubbed “The Rescuers,” have been given $7,500 to split as recipients of a 2021 Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award.
The freshmen at Middletown High School North formed a human chain to pull two siblings, ages 4 and 8, to safety after the December sledding mishap at the Beacon Hill Country Club in Atlantic Highlands.
In the days following the rescue, the friends — two of whom credited their Boy Scout training in part for their quick response — were interviewed for Good Morning America on ABC and CBS New York, among other TV news outlets.
The teens are among 24 honorees, chosen out of more than 300 nominations for the 25th anniversary of the award that’s managed and hosted by Ramapo College of New Jersey.
More than $3.5 million has been awarded to New Jersey residents since 1997, ranging in age from nine years old to 90. The awards were started by and named for Russell Berrie, New Jersey based entrepreneur and CEO of greeting card and gift retailer, Russ Berrie & Company (RUSS). Berrie died in 2002.
This year’s biggest award, $50,000, has been given to Teaneck military veteran, Dionisio Cucuta, known as “Chef Dion.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cucuta created “Hot Wheels,” a volunteer-based food distribution program out of Bergen County that has provided more than 250,000 meals since March 2020.
He also is a long-time mentor through the Disabled Combat Veterans Youth Program and Englewood’s Culinary Cadets program.