GRAND HAVEN, Mich. -- Tears filled the room where five men who risked their lives to save two teenage girls from drowning were recognized for their bravery.
Wednesday's Lifesaving Awards ceremony was held in the Grand Haven Community Center. The men were recognized with a standing ovation.
The group ignored their own safety to save two strangers in the waters of Lake Michigan in the Aug. 20 rescues. A a rip current and choppy waters kept two teenage girls from betting back to shore on their own.
Zebulon Boeskool jumped into Lake Michigan at Grand Haven State Park and pulled Jozalin Francis, 13, from the lake. Her lungs were filled with water, and she was taken to the hospital in serious condition. She has recovered and attended the ceremony.
"It made me tear up a lot, and I was like happy and sad at the same time," said Francis. "If it wasn't for them, my family wouldn't have their niece or daughter or granddaughter anymore."
Boeskool was all smiles after the ceremony while trying to hold back his emotions.
"I'm full of emotion right now, man, I'm just choking back tears," he said after accepting his award.
The four other heroes honored at the ceremony were Trevor Reeths, William Gramprie, Darryl Vansledright, and Doug Jedele. Jedele was was not present.
Reeths assisted in the rescue by running for the emergency life ring on the pier.
"I knew it would trigger to the Coast Guard station, get the signal out, and get more police down there," said Reeths.
Gramprie, a state park employee, was on his lunch break. "I heard the call come out over dispatch, and we got on our Gator and rushed down to the beach," he recalled.
Darryl Vansledright, 53, rescued another unidentified 14-year-old girl at the same time. "You do what you do," he said.
"I really didn't look for any of this," Vansledright said of the ceremony. "I thought maybe we'd have some coffee and cookies."
City officials said the city's five heroes are a reminder of the raw power of Lake Michigan.