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Teen With Down Syndrome Named National Hero After Saving Two Girls From Drowning

Valerio Catoia/Instagram

With the warm weather failing to slow down anytime soon, several people will still be rushing the to beach to cool down.

However, if you're an unskilled swimmer, going too deep into the water can pose some dangerous consequences.

Fortunately, there are selfless people who risk their lives coming to the rescue of others, and one of these brave individuals is named Valerio Catoia.

Although Catoia was born with down syndrome, he never let his disability get in the way of his goals.

At the age of three, his parents enrolled him in swimming lessons to improve his strength and stamina. His love for the water eventually led him to representing Italy in the Special Olympics, earning himself a medal.

But, Catoia doesn't only have an impressive swimming career because he can now add the word "hero" to his resume.

In July 2017, the 17-year-old was given the honor after he saved two young girls from drowning at Sabaudia Beach in the Italian region of Lazio.

According to the Italian news publication Aleteia, Catoia was lounging at the beach with his father when they heard the screams of two sisters aged 14 and 10.

The tide carried them out to sea and they were unable to reach the shore.

So along with his father, Catoia leaped into action and swam to the rescue. The accomplished swimmer, who's also trained in first aid, was able to securely retrieve the 10-year-old girl by keeping a firm hold on her neck while his father brought the other to safety.

Although the girl's mother failed to acknowledge Catoia for his fearless efforts, his story earned him national attention and was given the "Solidarity Champion of Italy" award (in the form of a medal and a commemorative plate) from Italian Sports Minister Lucca Lotti.

Catoia said he hasn't let his good deed go to his head, and while he hasn't changed, he says "those around him have."

Check out Catoia receiving his award:

While a huge congratulations is in order for Catoia, he's not the only courageous one out there. Share with us the stories of your local heroes!

[H/T: Aleteia, Newsner]

Maya has been working at Shared for 11 Months. She just begrudgingly spent $200 on a gym membership. Contact her at maya@shared.com