Minnesota teen posthumously receives national award for rescuing children near dam


A Minnesota teen who died after rescuing her young family members near a dam on a northern Minnesota lake has been posthumously awarded a prestigious honor from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

The organization announced Raina Neeland of Bagley received the Single Act of Heroism award among its 2021 Citizen Honors Award Honorees. The announcement came on Thursday, coinciding with National Medal of Honor Day.

"I am totally overwhelmed," said Lenora Neeland, Raina's grandmother. "Happy, sad at the same time."

In August, Neeland went swimming with a group of siblings and cousins on Clearwater Lake when some of the children got caught in the water near the dam. The 18-year-old saved four cousins, but ultimately got pulled under the water and died at the scene. 

While Lenora wishes this had never happened, she hopes Raina's act and this award can inspire.

"To do what you have to do to help somebody else," said Lenora. "That's what I want the world to know. If you have to help somebody, do it."

Neeland, along with the other awardees, will be celebrated at an event in Boston in September.