By Pualani Graham
Aug 25, 2016

Bradlee Wharton Receives Medal of Merit

Earlier this week, four members of the council advancement committee and I had the opportunity to present the Medal of Merit to Bradlee Wharton. Brad, at the age of 12, saved the life of a boy at Burraston Ponds in Mona, Utah. In Bradlee’s own words:

“My Scout group and I were at Burraston Pond in Mona, UT on Friday June 26, 2015, where we spent the day playing on the small rope swing, jumping off logs, kayaking, and swimming. We swam for three to four hours when we decided we should start getting ready to leave. We got the kayaks out of the water and we were draining them when we decided to take some photos. We saw this boy swimming (without a life jacket) out to his leaders who were in a kayak.”

“One of my leaders said, ‘I wonder if he’s waving at us or if he’s drowning?’ Right about that time I had this feeling that I needed to get my shirt and socks off fast and get in the water to help him. I hurried and took my shirt and socks off and jumped in the water before I had even thought of a plan. I had no life jacket on. My leader called my name as he tossed a square life preserver out in front of me.”

IMG_1691“As I was swimming I was able to scoop up the preserver by the handle and keep swimming. I made it to the kid and gave him the life preserver. He thanked me and said very softly that I saved his life. I took hold of the other handle and pulled him to shore. He thanked me the whole way to the shore. My legs were very tired by the time we made it back but I was so thankful that I made the decision to jump in the water and help him out.”

Brad’s Scoutmaster is Doug Oldham. Here are some of his comments:

“When a leader said, ‘I wonder if he’s drowning?’ Right then, Brad dove into the water as if he already had the thought and wasn’t going to wait around to find out. After swimming 10 feet or so a leader grabbed a square preserver and threw it out like a frisbee in front of Brad a couple of feet. Brad grabbed it in stride and swam another 60 feet or so super fast and held it out to the boy. Meanwhile the boy started bobbing up and down under the water more rapidly and you could tell he was losing control of treading water and was beginning to panic.”

“When Brad held the preserver out to him, he grasped onto it with both arms, hugging it for dear life. The boy exclaimed, ‘Thank you! You saved my life!’ He said it with airy, short breaths. The boy did not let go of the preserver until he got to the edge of the shore where he stood up and some other boys helped him out.”

“I was proud of Brad and his judgment to go and save the boy instead of trying to figure things out from the shore first. Had he waited any longer the boy would have drowned.”

Only 24 days earlier, I met with Allan Madsen as he was getting ready to enter the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. I also presented him with the Medal of Merit. Allan saved the life of a man who was found without a heart beat or respiration. Allan and his wrestling coach performed CPR and brought this individual back to life before the paramedics arrived. This is a very difficult thing to do without an AED. Both of these young men dropped what they were doing and ran to assist someone else. I am so proud of both Allan and Brad. They are great examples to all of us.

As I reflected on both of these young men’s actions, there is no doubt in my mind that Scouting is making the difference in the lives of the young men in the Utah National Parks Council. We really are preparing men to go on missions. It made me think about why Scouting matters.

We are helping young men develop their testimonies of Christ and of the gospel while doing their duty to God and country. We are helping them to serve others through charity and doing a good turn daily. We are preparing them to go on a mission and teach others by preparing through the Scouting program as the activity arm of the priesthood. We are preparing them to do hard things.

Scouting will help them gain confidence and prepare them for the future. We are preparing them to be good fathers and husbands by following the examples of men, such as our Scout leaders, the bishopric, our prophets and the Savior. They need character-building activities. They are being prepared by learning who they are as Scouts and sons of God by keeping themselves physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight understanding their true nature as a son of God.

Picture_Pualani Graham_Cropped


Author: Pualani Graham | Advancement Chair, Utah National Parks Council and Boy Scouts of America |Advancement News

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