Rare Award Given to Minnesotan for Brave Recuse of Three Strangers
Marena Kouba just finished her senior year at St. Cloud State University where she was very active on the swim team, according to WCCO. But in July 2020, she and her boyfriend went to the Michigan Upper Peninsula to get away from everything for a bit.
While visiting the Upper Peninsula, they came across an uncle and his niece and nephew. Marena and her boyfriend realized that something was wrong and Marena jumped in the water. Soon she realized that the rip current had swept the three away and the situation suddenly turned into life or death. Marena recalled when she made it to the uncle. She told WCCO, "'I was trying to talk to him, and he was just like sobbing, I’m sure overwhelmed, not sure what’s gonna happen.'"
She grabbed his hand and they swam over to the kids. "'When we got over to the two kids, the little boy started asking if we were going to die,'" she told WCCO. She still gets choked up about it to this day. I can't imagine the pressure she must have felt and all of the emotions!
Marena instructed all of them to hold onto each other and make a chain. She was then able to lead them all back to shore. The uncle, Eric, is incredibly thankful to Marena. He said to WCCO, "'I will never forget her saving me, doing that. She risked her own life to save people she didn’t know, strangers.'"
Because of Marena's rescue that risked her own life, she will receive the Carnegie Medal, a national award given to "someone who risks their life to an extraordinary degree while saving a stranger." She'll be given the award in two months.