August 26, 2009
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Student lifeguards honored for saving a life
Alaina Larson accepts her plaque from Deputy Chief of Police John Lamb.
Metropolitan State College of Denver softball player Alaina Larson has been recognized for her bravery in helping save a young girl’s life by the Denver Police Department and the Daniels Fund.
A lifeguard during the summer at Aztlan Recreation Center, she and three of her coworkers helped save the life of 5-year-old Stella Maziaraz on Aug. 14. “It was a first save in general for me. I have not had to perform CPR or pull anybody out of the water,” says Larson.
The four lifeguards were honored at a ceremony on Aug. 21 at the Daniels Fund, where they reunited with Maziaraz. But they weren’t the only ones being recognized. Maziaraz’ 6-year-old friend Ava McCormick was also honored. On that day in the pool, McCormick noticed that something was wrong with her friend and swam down and pulled her to the surface. She then alerted the staff.
In addressing the lifeguards, Deputy Chief of Police John Lamb called it “a really amazing story. The most impressive part was you taking charge and doing what you were trained to do and having an outstanding outcome.”
Among the 50 people on hand to recognize the lifeguards’ efforts were Larson’s parents Eric and Josie Larson, who are Metro State alumni. The high school sweethearts are not surprised by their daughter’s strength in the pool. “She started swimming as early as six months,” says Josie Larson.
Larson's parents Josie and Eric are Metro State graduates.
Athleticism runs in the family. Alaina’s father Eric Larson played and coached baseball at Metro State. Her brother and sister are also lifeguards.
Larson is a special young lady, says Metro State Athletic Director Joan McDermott. “We're very proud to have a young woman like Alaina be a part of the Roadrunner family and are grateful for her quick thinking. Hearing stories like these are even more rewarding than winning games on the field.
“It is times like these that we realize the important things in life and that we are helping shape the lives of these young men and women who are student-athletes at Metro State.”
The human performance and sport major just this past spring received emergency response re-certification through her required Emergency Response course with Assistant Professor of Human Performance and Sport Kas Parsons.
The four lifeguards received the Bill Daniels Neighborhood Hero Award, a $250 check from the Daniels Fund for their heroism, and a plaque from the Denver Police Department. Ava McCormick, the six-year-old, received the hero award and $500.
“It felt good that they were honoring us,” says Larson.
But they also wanted to make sure that Maziaraz remembers the special day. She and her fellow lifeguards presented Build-a-Bear lifeguard to Maziaraz. “We put four hearts in there for her so that she has a little piece of us.”