CODY Harris is legally blind, but when he was woken by the smoke detector at 5.30am, he set about rescuing his family from the burning Townsville home.
Cody, 10, is the winner of the Child of Courage medal in this year's Pride of Australia awards. He has lost most of his sight to albinism but he managed to alert his two sisters before looking for his younger brother David, 4, who was in a bedroom. Opening the door to a smoke-filled room, Cody found David curled in a corner and charged in to pull him to safety. He had earlier ordered his sisters to wake their mother, who is hearing-impaired. Cody was among an impressive group of our most inspirational humanitarians - doctors, paramedics, parents, friends, and children - declared winners of this year's Pride of Australia national medal, chosen from 70 finalists around the country.
Victorian Ryan Miller received the Outstanding Bravery medal for saving the life of an elderly woman when she fell on train tracks at Box Hill station. Also recognised were cerebral palsy sufferer Daniel Clarke and his younger brother William, who have raised more than $650,000 to save the natural habitat of Borneo's orang-utans. The NSW brothers, awarded the Environment medal, have also lobbied politicians and created their own book, which has been used in many of the state's schools. They also won the Toyota People's Choice Award for their heartfelt efforts - chosen by you, our readers - taking home $10,000 cash plus another $10,000 for charity.
Also from NSW was Georgina Kenaghan, who was awarded the Inspiration medal for her dedication to coaching the country's female Paralympic goalball team. Ms Kenaghan put a career in psychology on hold to help the six inspiring blind women fulfil their goal of qualifying for the Games for the first time in 16 years. Mother-of-two Vanessa Robinson was recognised with the Courage medal for her tireless work campaigning to improve gas and fossil fuel safety following the death of her children to carbon monoxide poisoning. Host and Network Ten newsreader Sandra Sully said the awards were a reminder that humanity was alive and kicking in Australia.
"Life's just so hard and so busy for everybody that we all get swallowed up in the world around us and forget to take a moment to recognise that there are so many people in our communities who do amazing, exceptional and inspiring things," Sully said. Now in its eighth year, the Network Ten-sponsored Pride of Australia Medal is an initiative of News Limited newspapers, including the Sunday Mail, which aims to shine the spotlight on the unsung heroes whose extraordinary efforts often slip by unrecognised. "All of these (finalists) show you what is possible. They have a passion and determination, or there was a spontaneous moment where they were thrust into a life changing decision and they made an incredible choice. "In this celebrity-centric world we live in, these awards recalibrate the community focus about what's real and important."
News Ltd group editorial director Campbell Reid said: "These people are the champions in our society and News Ltd is committed to sharing with you their stories and celebrating their achievements." Australian singer-songwriter Katie Noonan performed at yesterday's gala ceremony, while Puberty Blues actress Susie Porter, comedian Mikey Robins and newsreader Natarsha Belling provided star power.