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12-Year-Old Girl Scout Sadie Peterson Awarded a Bronze Cross Award


Cadette Girl Scout Sadie Peterson saved a boy’s life earning her the Girl Scouts of the USA Bronze Cross Award. Sadie’s troop leader Nicky Lunderby and Girl Scouts River Valleys staff member Pam Wurster nominated Sadie for the Girl Scout Medal of Honor for her heroic act. Girl Scouts of the USA reviewed the nomination and determined Sadie deserved the Bronze Cross, a national meritorious service award, for showing extraordinary heroism and risking her life to save another’s. Sadie was presented with the honor on January 9, 2023, in Rockford, Minnesota.

On June 12, 2022, her golden birthday, Sadie attended her church picnic in Buffalo, Minnesota. Rowan Sykes (4) and his family were also there getting to know other families at their new church.

The church’s septic tank had been receiving maintenance and one of the manhole covers was not properly bolted on. Several of the kids were playing in the grass near the pipes and were attempting to put the cover back on the manhole when Rowan fell in. He was submerged in sewage and being sucked into the connecting pipe. Sadie acted quickly, leaned headfirst into the pipe, and grabbed Rowan’s arm, holding on tight and keeping his head above the sewage.

"I thought I was going to slip and let him go on accident, and then I was so far deep down that I thought I was going to fall in," Sadie said. 

Rowan’s brother, Nolan, ran for help, and an adult, Tim Dubois, pulled the kids out of the pipe.

"I am proud of her for just jumping into it," said Sadie's mom, Stacy Peterson. "She’s in Girl Scouts, and we talk about helping people. We do our first aid [badge], we do our safety badge, but we've never had to use it."

Rowan was rushed to the hospital and treated for scrapes and bruises and monitored for long-term effects from aspirating sewage. Sadie deep cleaned her scrapes and celebrated the rest of her birthday the best she could.

Sofia Chang, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA wrote a letter to Sadie to congratulate her on earning the Bronze Cross Award in which she commended Sadie for her heroism and quick thinking and stated, “You are a testament to the highest principles of the Girl Scout Promise and Law and embody what it takes to be a girl of courage, confidence, and character who makes the world a better place.”

Watch and read the Kare11 news story about the incident here.