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Heroine gets scout medal

Molly Shore

A shiny, new gold medal on a red ribbon is pinned to Burbank Brownie

Alexi Buliavac’s uniform.

Alexi, 8, a member of Burbank Troop 535, received the Girl Scout


Medal of Honor this month at the Burbank Service Unit meeting, for

rescuing 4-year-old Riley Hooper when he got into trouble in a

backyard swimming pool.

In July, Riley was enjoying an afternoon of fun in a friend’s


backyard pool when he lost one of the water wings keeping him afloat.

“I was really, really scared because I got water in my mouth and

in my nose, and I couldn’t get up [for air],” Riley said.

Alexi, who was not in the pool at the time, realized Riley was

trapped under a raft and sprang into action.

“I actually jumped in the pool and picked him up, and then I

started to push him to the side,” she said.

Her swift response was one of the lifesaving techniques she


learned, along with Riley’s sister and fellow Brownie, Katie Hooper,

when the two girls attended the scouts’ weekend Camp Cottontail.

“If you see someone in trouble, you go to the person and pick them

up, and you find their mom or dad,” Alexi said.

Although Riley’s mother Denise Hooper was sitting poolside, she

did not immediately realize that her son was in trouble.

“I was sitting there at a table with the other mother,” Hooper

said. “We were at the edge of the pool, and I kept glancing over, but


I didn’t think anything was wrong.”

Hooper said the training Alexi received at camp taught her to be

aware of her surroundings and to pay attention to what is going on

around her.

“After this happened, I thought what she did was special,” Hooper

said. “She kept her cool when she knew that Riley was in trouble.”

After Alexi maneuvered Riley to the edge of the pool, Hooper was

there to scoop her coughing, sputtering son out of the water.

Hooper, a co-leader of Alexi’s troop, was so grateful, she

nominated Alexi for the Medal of Honor.

“Our whole troop was there to see Alexi receive the medal,” Hooper

said. “I was very happy that I could be part of that and recognize

her in that way.”