Long Island 1st-grader honored with Girl Scout National Medal of Honor for saving little brother

NEW HYDE PARK, Long Island (WPVI) -- Long Island 1st-grader Riya Surjubali recently received the Girl Scout National Medal of Honor for saving her 3-year-old brother's life when he choked on a piece of food.

The incident happened last May at Riya's family's home in New Hyde Park just a week after she learned in a Daisy Girl Scout meeting what to do if someone is choking.

She learned she should smack the person hard on his or her back until the food comes out. So that's exactly what she did.
Riya's mother, Sharlene Surujbali, said she was washing dishes when all of a sudden she heard Riya call out, "Kirin, you're choking!"

Surjubali said Riya calmly ran up behind Kirin at the dinner table and gave him two hard back blows. The piece of grilled cheese flew out of his mouth.

"She's so brave and we absolutely love her and we're so proud of her," Surjubali said Wednesday.

Riya said she wasn't scared or nervous about performing the back blows.
"Because I learned it in Girl Scouts and I knew what to do and I went and did it," she told Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne.

Riya was honored recently by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. Curran presented Riya with a citation and said, "It is my pleasure to honor Girl Scout Daisy Riya for her bravery and quick-thinking."

Rande Bynum, the CEO for the Girl Scouts of Nassau County, said the organization is proud to have awarded Riya the National Medal of Honor.

"It's a huge deal," Bynum said. "At 6 years old to receive this honor is a great first step in I can't imagine her leadership career here in Girl Scouts."

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