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BRIDGEPORT, Pa. — On National Medal of Honor Day (March 25), The Congressional Medal of Honor Society announces their 2021 Citizen Honors Award Honorees – outstanding Americans who have gone above and beyond to perform extraordinary acts of courage or service.

The Citizen Honors Awardees receive this award from a group of Americans whose actions have defined the words courage and selfless service – Medal of Honor Recipients.

Each year, the Society conducts a nationwide search to select individuals in four categories and one organization to receive their Citizen Honors Awards. These five individuals and one organization exemplify the values embodied in the Medal of Honor: courage, sacrifice, commitment, integrity, citizenship, and patriotism.

This year, Brown University men’s water polo athlete Aidan Reilly (Sr., Los Angeles, Calif./Loyola) will receive recognition for an organization comprised of recipients of the nation’s highest award for valor.

Reilly, the creative lead, and James Kanoff, the Chief Executive Officer of the project, received national attention last year on a varsity of national outlets for their selfless service as they responded to a nationwide crisis during (and because of) a global pandemic to create a grassroots initiative — FarmLink Project – connecting farmers with surplus product to communities in need. 

In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?’”, FarmLink is a grassroots movement that won’t let food go to waste during the COVID-19 pandemic. While food banks were facing an unprecedented increase in demand, millions of pounds of produce were being dumped or wasted as commercial farms around the country struggle to adapt to decreased and cancelled orders. The project connected such farms with understocked and understaffed food banks. 100% of donations towards FarmLink were used to pay the wages of farm workers and truckers, thereby keeping employees staffed, fresh produce away from dumps and food onto the tables of those who need it most.

The 2021 Citizen Honors Service Awardees (Service Act, Youth Service and Community Service) will be celebrated on July 14, 2021 in Charleston, South Carolina, at a dinner being held at The Belmond Charleston Place Hotel. The 2021 Citizen Honors Valor Awardees (Single Act of Heroism and Young Hero) will be honored in Boston, Massachusetts, on September 10, 2021 at a dinner at the Seaport Hotel.

The selection process for the awards entails:

  • A panel assembled by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society considers all nominations and selects national finalists. Then, a second panel made up exclusively of Medal of Honor Recipients—Americans whose actions have truly defined the words “courage” and “selfless service”—selects individuals and organizations from those finalists to receive the Citizen Honors Awards.
  • Any United States civilian who, through a singular act of extraordinary heroism or through a prolonged series of selfless acts, clearly demonstrated a willingness to place his or her own life at risk for others or has dedicated themselves to the service of others can be nominated. In all cases, the actions being honored must epitomize the concept of “service above self” and must be performed “above and beyond” one’s professional or vocational area of responsibility or conduct. Young Americans aged 8-17 can be nominated for their courage or dedication to service. Community organizations can be nominated for their exceptional impact or mission in supporting our nation’s military service members and families.

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society was chartered by Congress in 1958 to create a brotherhood among the living Medal of Honor recipients; to protect and uphold the dignity and honor of the Medal; to promote patriotism and love of country; and to inspire our youth to become worthy and dedicated citizens of our nation. Its membership consists exclusively of those individuals who have received the Medal of Honor. Today, there are 69 living recipients of the Medal of Honor. The Society is unique in that its membership hopes that there will be no need to welcome new inductees.

Additional information on the the Congressional Medal of Honor Society is available at:

The 2021 Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Citizen Honors Awardees:

Single Act of Heroism Award (two honorees):
RAINA NEELAND (Posthumous) of Bagley, Minnesota, was selected for her courageous act when she rescued three young cousins after they were swept over the Clearwater Dam at Clearwater Lake.  She succumbed to the currents.

DAVID DORN (Posthumous) of St. Louis, Missouri, was selected for his courage when he was mortally wounded while saving his friend’s business from looters.

Young Hero Award:
CHRIS STONE (Posthumous) of Santa Fe, Texas, was selected for his extreme valor when he used his body as a human barricade on May 18, 2018 to keep a school shooter from entering a classroom, saving the lives of many students while losing his own.

Service Act:
AIDAN REILLY & JAMES KANOFF from Pacific Palisades, California, were chosen for their selfless service as they responded to a nationwide crisis during (and because of) a global pandemic to create a grassroots initiative — FarmLink Project – connecting farmers with surplus product to communities in need. 

Youth Service Award:
CHARLES (Charlie) AUSTIN, from Brunswick, Maine, was chosen for his selfless service for donating time and money to help fund and develop The Warrior Program, a virtual training program for Special Olympics Maine (SOME).  As Charlie grappled with living with cardiac limitations, he was determined to stay in the world of sports and immersed himself in helping athletes of Special Olympics Maine (SOME).

Community Service Hero Award:
THE GARY SINISE FOUNDATION (GSF) was selected for their outstanding service to our military, their families and first responders.  Now in its 10th year of operation, GSF honors our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need through creation and support of unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities.

Collegiate Water Polo Association