Two South Thomaston men who were responsible for saving the lives of two elderly people in September 2010 were recent recipients of an international award for heroism.

Kurt Winters, 35, and his father, Rolf Winters, received the Kiwanis International Foundation Robert P. Connelly Medal during the 93rd Annual Convention of the Kiwanis New England District in Warwick, R.I. on Aug. 19.

The medal was presented by Kiwanis International Trustee, Lee Kuan Yong of the Kuala Lumpur Kiwanis Club in Malaysia; and New England Kiwanis District Governor, Ron Sanville, of the Kiwanis Club of Hardwick, Vt. The pair was nominated by the members of the Kiwanis Club of Rockland, several of whom were present for the ceremony.

The Connelly Medal was awarded to both the father and son for their heroic actions during a daring water rescue of two people from an automobile that had gone over the embankment of the Keag River in South Thomaston.

The Connelly Medal is awarded to persons who risk their lives or personal physical harm on behalf of others when they “might just as well have passed along the way.”

The medal is named in honor of Robert Connelly, a Kiwanis member from Chicago who lost his life in 1966, attempting to rescue a disabled woman in the path of an oncoming train.

The Kiwanis International Foundation Board of Trustees, in a tribute to Connelly, established the Robert P. Connelly Medal “for service above and beyond the call”. The first award was presented to Connelly’s widow at the Kiwanis International Convention in Houston, Texas in 1967.

The Kiwanis board established the Connelly program to honor those whose acts of heroism are consistent with Connelly’s own example and with the Kiwanis philosophy of “the assumption of individual responsibility.”

In making the presentation, Sanville said, “…on behalf of the presidents and the collective boards of trustees of Kiwanis International and the Kiwanis International Foundation, and with admiration and respect of Kiwanians everywhere, I take great pleasure in presenting this medal. Your action is a bright page in the history of Kiwanis, and an inspiring record of mankind at its very best.”

In addition to the medals, both recipients will each receive a $500 savings bond from Kiwanis International.