BETA

Shining moments: Calm in crisis

As early as the second grade, Douglas Leonard of the Flower Mount 1st Ward, Lewisville Texas Stake, demonstrated an ability to take responsibility.

It was then that he and his father had planned to find a way to store his bicycle. Douglas was eager to start the project, but work obligations detained his father for several days. So Douglas decided to take the lead.He went to the garage, rummaged through some odd parts, and using his own inventiveness, built a mechanism to lift his bike with hooks, pulleys and boards.

This ability to lead out served him well in August 1997 when the body of his little sister was spotted lying at the bottom of the family swimming pool.

Douglas was 9 years old at the time, and a Bear in Cub Scouts. As they did every day when temperatures hovered around 100 degrees, the Leonards were cooling off in the swimming pool.

Sister Leonard was walking in the shallow end when she heard a thud. She turned to find the four older children forming a train on the slide and realized there was no serious injury.

Then fear struck. "I realized that 3-year-old Aleah was missing," Sister Leonard said. In a fit of panic, she ordered a search. Douglas was standing on the side of the pool and saw the motionless figure of his youngest sister on the bottom of the 6-foot pool.

He yelled to his mother. She yelled back, "Go."

"I never had any doubt about his ability," Sister Leonard said. "I knew he could get her."

After being pulled from the pool, Aleah was limp, unresponsive, and her lips blue. When Aleah didn't respond to Sister Leonard's first CPR attempts, Douglas ran to the phone to call for help.

Aleah responded to later CPR attempts and was breathing irregularly when paramedics arrived. She was flown to the hospital and released the next day.

For his alertness and ability to act in a crisis, Douglas will receive Scouting's premier award for meritorious action, the National Medal of Valor for Heroism, during his ward's Scout banquet in February. - Shaun D. Stahle