MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Sonia Zenobi, age 10, was recently honored by the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey (GSHNJ) with the Medal of Honor for saving her mother’s life last year when Zenobi was just nine.
The Medal of Honor is a Lifesaving Award given by Girl Scouts of the United States of America to a Girl Scout who has saved or attempted to save a human life under circumstances that indicate heroism without risk to her own life.
The Girls Scouts explained that Sonia's heroism happened early one morning in January 2018, when her mom, Elizabeth, experienced a medical crisis at their family home in Maplewood. She was shaking, was unable to communicate, and was beginning to lose consciousness.
While Cleo, Sonia’s younger sister, began crying, Sonia, ran upstairs and immediately called 911 from the landline.
"Being a true Girl Scout, Sonia spoke calmly with the emergency dispatcher while trying to care for her traumatized sister and comfort her ailing mother," stated a press release from the Girl Scouts.
When emergency responders arrived minutes later, Sonia led them to her mom and then to the medicine cabinet. She showed the EMTs all the medications and described her mother’s symptoms.
"Medical personnel were able to diagnose a stroke and a seizure based on the facts that Sonia provided, adding that if the Girl Scout did not act as quickly, her mother could have died," according to a statement from the Girl Scouts.
After being in the hospital for over a week, Elizabeth has made a full recovery.
Nancy Cook and Sandra Kopytek, who are Sonia’s troop leaders, along with several mothers in the close community, were convinced that Sonia’s heroism in such a dire situation deserved recognition. Two first responders from the Maplewood Fire Department, Sonia’s mother, and Sonia all wrote to the Girl Scouts of the USA about the experience.
In July, GSHNJ was notified that Sonia was to be honored. Cook received the notification and she along with Kopytek decided that Sonia’s prestigious award should be presented at Town Hall in Maplewood.
Michael Forrestall, COO and Tara Faquir, Senior Manager Mission Delivery and Retail of GSHNJ, presented Sonia with the letter and pin from GSUSA.
“Sonia is a shining example of courage, resourcefulness, and leadership.” Forrestall said. “She called upon her experience as a Girl Scout to save her mother’s life. It is an inspiring story for all of us.”
Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca and Maplewood Township Member Dean Dafis, along with the Sonia's friends, troop council and members, were present at the ceremony.
“I am so proud of Sonia, she is an amazing young lady," said DeLuca. “We live in a wonderful town, with great resources and a caring community, and we are happy to be here to honor her.”
“As her leader we earned the first aid badge as a Brownie, and one of the key components was always to call 911 in an emergency,” Cook said. “I am so happy and relieved that she was able to use the skills she was taught.”
“Sonia is sweet and caring, with great family values and close community ties,” shared Kopytek. “She is a well-rounded young lady, who demonstrated great leadership skills, and we are so proud of her.”
Standing next to her mother, Elizabeth, Sonia said quietly: “I am just happy,” as she gazed into her mother’s eyes.
“I am so grateful to my daughter and the way she conducted herself,” Elizabeth said. “She immediately became the adult in the situation, and as a result of her quick response I am here today to celebrate her.”