SpongeBob Squarepants Savior Gets College Scholarship

New Jersey college recognizes a little hero

By Maria Eugenia Miranda
|  Wednesday, Jul 14, 2010  |  Updated 6:35 AM EDT
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SpongeBob Savior Gets College Scholarship

SpongeBob Squarepants helped save a girl's life in April, when her best friend performed the Heimlich Maneuver on her after watching it on the SpongeBob Squarepants cartoon.


A nine-year-old New Jersey boy who took cues from a SpongeBob Squarepants episode to save a drowning five-year-old in a lake will receive a certificate for a college scholarship today.

Centenary College is an institution that focuses a lot on community service,” said Annamaria Lalevee, director for public relations at the college. “What Reese did aligns with the values of the college.”

Centenary College is acknowledging Reese Ronceray’s heroic act with a $10,000 a year, four-year scholarship at a ceremony in the Edward W.C. administration building Wednesday at 2 p.m.

For the last three of years, Reese has taken swimming lessons at the Hackettstown, N.J., school.

“We felt that he was one of Centenary’s own,” said Lalevee. “This is something that the president felt very strongly about as well.”

When adults panicked at the sight of Andrew Gentile drowning, Reese jumped into a lake at a private residence in Long Valley, N.J., and saved him. Reese recalled that Gentile’s father started screaming, “‘get the kid, get the kid.’”

“Right away,” said Reese. “I just heard screams, and I knew.”

Shirley Gentile, Andrew’s mother, attempted to swim out to her son, but she struggled once the lake got too deep.

Reese said the only moment he was scared was when Andrew pulled him under the water, but he soon pushed them both up. He wrapped his arm around Andrew’s shoulders and ferried him to safety.

Once Andrew coughed up water and caught his breath on shore, his mother thanked Reese profusely. Reese then told his mom Anne Ronceray, “‘Mom, she already thanked me once, why does she keep thanking me?’”

After weeks of widespread media attention, the family was notified that they will be going on a Nickelodeon cruise next year on Nickelodeon’s tab.

His mother said that Reese was calm and collected in another dangerous situation – he pulled out the fire extinguisher and put out a kitchen fire when he was about 4 or 5 years old. More recently, he’s just been excited to get new SpongeBob Squarepants toys and to ride in fancy cars for TV interviews in New York City.

“I just saved the kid’s life, that’s about it,” said Reese, adding that he wants to be a lifeguard when he grows up.

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