Robert P. Connelly Medal of Heroism
The epitome of personal involvement
On September 23, 1966, commuters waiting for their train to Chicago were buying peanuts from members of the Kiwanis Club of Lisle, Ill., USA. It was the club’s annual Kids’ Day Peanut Sale, and Kiwanian Robert P. Connelly, 34, was engaged in the business at hand.
As the fast-moving passenger trains came and went, Connelly noticed a woman with artificial legs walking near the edge of the station’s platform. Suddenly, mild curiosity turned to horror as he watched the woman lose her balance, then fall onto the tracks directly in the path of an oncoming train.
Connelly dropped his peanuts and leapt from the platform to the woman’s side on the tracks. He tried to drag her from the train’s path, but the engine was moving too rapidly. Unable to stop, the train took both their lives.
In tribute to this selfless Kiwanian, the Kiwanis International Board of Trustees established the Robert P. Connelly Medal of Heroism “for service beyond the call of duty.”
The first Robert P. Connelly Medal of Heroism was awarded posthumously to Connelly at the 52nd Annual Kiwanis International Convention in Houston, Texas (1967) with this statement: “By his unselfish action, he put tremendous and dramatic meaning into the phrase ‘personal involvement,’ which is so much a part of Kiwanis philosophy. This man was the epitome of all that Kiwanis strives to be.”
Since then, from Japan to Thailand to England to the USA, Kiwanis International Foundation has honored more than 600 Kiwanians who, like Connelly, risked or gave their lives to save another.
Thanks to your gifts, we can honor these Kiwanian heroes with the Robert P. Connelly Medal of Heroism or Medal of Valor.
Connelly heroes have:
- Saved a woman from a burning building.
- Pulled two people from a submerged car.
- Interrupted an assault on a woman and received a gunshot in the effort.
- Dragged a man attacked by a shark to safety.
See the complete list of heroes and read their stories
Nomination form and award criteria