WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – This year makes the 36th anniversary of the death of Kansas City Chief running back Joe Delaney, who passed away attempting to save three children from drowning in Louisiana.
On June 29th 1983, Joe Delaney was at Critter’s Creek Amusement Park in Monroe, La when he saw three boys screaming for help and flailing in a retention pond.
Delaney, who admittedly was not a strong swimmer, was also not going to wait for someone to step in, and rushed the waters on his own to rescue the children.
The NFL running back was successful in helping one young man escape the deep waters of the pond. A second child was brought back by Delaney but later died, along with the third child and Delaney, unable to save himself.
Joe Delaney’s sacrifice left a big impression, not just for Chiefs fans but the nation. 3,000 people attended his memorial service on July 4th.
The then-president Ronald Reagan awarded the player the Presidential Citizens Medal posthumously, weeks following the memorial, saying of Delaney, “By the supreme example of courage and compassion, this brilliantly gifted young man left a spiritual legacy for his fellow Americans.
The 24-year-old superstars Kansas City Chiefs number, #37, has been unofficially retired by the franchise out of respect to the running back and his legacy. His name is also included in the teams Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor.