Italian Minister of Sporting Luca Lotti awarded him the “Solidarity Champion of Italy” for his bravery.

Fr. Mark Hodges : Aug 28, 2017 :

(Italy) [] A 17-year-old boy with Down syndrome is a hero in Italy after saving a little girl from drowning. (Photo: Valerio Catoia was honored as a ‘Solidarity Champion of Italy’/via

Valerio Catoia and his family were at Sabaudia Beach on July 12 when two girls, aged 10 and 14, were literally swept out to sea. They were no match for the powerful undercurrent that relentlessly rushed them farther out by the second. They screamed for help.

“The little one started to go down but then re-emerged,” The Republic reported. Valerio “instinctively” dived after her instantly.

Valerio’s father also heard the girls crying out and immediately went into action. Ahead of lifeguards trying to help, the two heroes reached the girls struggling to stay afloat.

While the father assisted the older girl, Valerio reached the younger girl, cradled her, and swam her safely to the shore.

News of the rescue spread and Valerio quickly became a national hero. Italian citizens not only accepted the Down syndrome teen, they championed him all the more for overcoming his disability.

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