In 1849, a group of New York underwriters, ship owners, ship masters, and merchants, founded The Life Saving Benevolent Association of New York to save lives from coastal shipwrecks and to reward acts of heroism in saving lives at sea (storms made the approaches to New York harbor treacherous and claimed a total of 338 shipwrecks in the mid-19th century).
The Association went earnestly to work establishing life saving stations along the shores of Long Island and New Jersey, manned by volunteer standby rescue crews, most of whom were nearby fishermen and lobstermen and their families.
Shortly after the beginning of the twentieth century, the Association began giving special for saving lives along the waterways of the New York metro area.
In 2006, the Association awarded a total of 2 Silver Medal Pins, 21 Bronze Medal Pins, and 7 Bronze Bars. The heroes divided $17,750.
The awardees included 6-year old Marissa Pecorella – the youngest person to receive an award from the Association. On the hot and humid evening of August 3, 2005, Marissa was in her family’s backyard swimming pool when her friend Titania tried to follow her into the 4-1/2-foot deep middle. Suddenly Titania went under. As she surfaced, she yelled, “Marissa, help!”
Marissa swam up behind her friend, grabbed her around the waist from behind and swam to the ladder. Only 5-years old at the time of the rescue, she had been taught water rescue procedures by her father, a former Red Cross swimming instructor.