Kratzer student receives Girl Scout Medal of Honor Theresa Kleibscheidel attempted to save her mom while caring for brothers
Greenawalds Fire Company of South Whitehall recently hosted a full house for Girl Scout Theresa Kleibscheidel.
Friends, family, leaders and fellow members of Girl Scout Troop 654, and members of the Greenawalds and Cetronia emergency responder crews came out on Feb. 5 to see Kleibscheidel receive the Girl Scout Medal of Honor for trying to save the life of her mom, Beth, two years ago on Feb. 5, 2016.
“It was held at Greenawalds Fire Company because Beth, was and I am a member of the fire company,” Kleibscheidel’s dad, Mark, said. “We are not just emergency responders but basically family.
“They all know Theresa and my two sons. Beth and I were responders for Cetronia Ambulance Corps, too.”
Kleibscheidel, 9, is a fourth grader at Kratzer Elementary School.
She has been with Troop 654 for five years and is no stranger to receiving badges.
Before the Medal of Honor, Kleibscheidel earned her Social Butterfly badge for learning how not to be shy, her business owner badge for learning how to be nice to customers, and her staying fit badge.
In addition to Girl Scouts, she enjoys drawing, practicing world languages, and playing violin.
Kleibscheidel was 7 the day her mom died.
“My brothers and I were home alone when I found my mom,” Kleibscheidel said. “I knew she needed help. I called my dad because I knew it was an emergency, and he helped get my Pappy to our house.
“I kept knocking on our neighbors’ door but they were not answering. I waited to let my Pappy in, while keeping an eye on my two younger brothers, whom I made sure stayed upstairs, away from mom.”
Kleibscheidel also called emergency responders to help get her mom to the hospital.
“I was born on my mom’s birthday,” Kleibscheidel said. “I am like her mini-doctor since I got her help when she needed it.”
Kleibscheidel’s Troop Leader, Katrina Bell of South Whitehall, and her family worked together to nominate her for the Medal of Honor.
Kleibscheidel’s mom was Bell’s friend and assistant leader of the troop.
They wrote to the Girl Scouts of America sharing Kleibscheidel’s story.
The Medal of Honor is given to a Girl Scout who saves or attempts to save a life without risk to their own safety.
“Theresa’s actions were exemplary,” Bell said. “She was able to assess her mom’s need for help, remain calm, and get help quickly by reaching out to her family, her neighbors, and emergency responders, all while keeping her younger brothers calm and occupied as they were not aware an emergency was occurring.
“This took place on a school morning, too. Instead of getting ready for school Theresa tried to save a life.”
Bell said due to the effects of cancer, Ms. Beth, as the Girl Scouts called her, was unable to be revived and died at the hospital that day.
“She is missed by all who knew her,” Bell said. “Fundraisers in her honor are held several times a year. I am proud to be leading girls to become powerful leaders, just as Theresa demonstrated by her actions that day.”
Bell also spoke during the ceremony.
“Although Theresa’s mom is not with us in person tonight to share her daughter receiving this award, we know she is here in spirit.”
Georganne Seeley, director of volunteer support for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania at the Lehigh Valley Service Center, presented Kleibscheidel the Medal of Honor award.
Seeley also read and gave her a letter from the Girl Scouts of America Chief Executive Officer Sylvia Acevedo.
“The Medal of Honor represents Theresa going above and beyond,” Seeley said. “For a 7 year old to be able to keep calm in this sort of situation and get help goes above and beyond what a girl her age is able to do. It is absolutely phenomenal. I am proud of her.”
Seeley said she has been with the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania for 15 years.
“This is the first time I have experienced someone Theresa’s age receiving this award,” Seeley noted. “It is presented to a Girl Scout about once every five years. It is now a permanent part of her uniform.”
Acevedo’s letter called Kleibscheidel one of the bravest Girl Scouts she has ever known.
The letter offered Kleibscheidel the Girl Scouts of America’s most heartfelt congratulations for receiving the Medal of Honor and deepest sympathies for the loss of her mother.
The letter, which commended Kleibscheidel for her outstanding judgment and incredible courage, concluded with telling Kleibscheidel by her saving lives she is a living testament to the highest principles of the Girl Scout promise and law.
At the end of the ceremony, Kleibscheidel expressed her sincere thanks to everyone for attending.