Miami girl who saved cousin from kidnapper is finalist for bravery award

It took full strength for a 7-year old girl to kick, pull, bite and eventually defeat a suspected kidnapper.

A’Nari Taylor, now 8, was selected Monday as one of 23 finalists for the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, an organization that represents the United States’ war heroes and recognizes citizen heroes.

Out of hundreds of nominees nationwide, A’Nari, of Miami, is representing Florida in an effort to highlight citizens who have gone above and beyond in some extraordinary way — saving a life in a single instance of extreme bravery, or bettering their community with ongoing selfless service.

Last July, as A’Nari and two friends were playing outside their Overtown home and pretending to be famous basketball players, she heard an unfamiliar voice and immediately went around the corner to see who it was.

A man was with her 4-year-old cousin, Brandon Mincey, saying that God had commanded him to take the child.

“I started pulling, fighting the man and kicking him because I didn’t want him to take Brandon,” said A’Nari, a second-grader at Phillis Wheatley Elementary. “I was scared but I didn’t think. I just wanted to act.”

A neighbor heard the commotion and came out. The man ran away, but later was arrested after A’Nari, riding in a police car, identified him. He was charged with attempted kidnapping and false imprisonment.

The Miami-Dade Police Department recognized A’Nari with a Heroes Award and Miami-Dade County public schools gave her a Do the Right Thing Award.

But it was the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation nomination that brought her mother, Tanya Dingle, to tears.

“I never expected this,’’ Dingle said. “It’s a top award for my child to be a Medal of Honor. It’s a blessing for them to choose her. It’s nothing but joy.”

A’Nari said she’s happy she was in the right place at the right time and is particularly happy that she can Google her name and find it online.

“When I’m at the Overtown Youth Center I look up my name on the computer and I click Google and it shows my story,” A’Nari said. “I feel happy and excited because that was my first time.”

The 23 finalists now enter the next phase of judging where four Citizen Heroes will be selected to receive special medals for their service.

The four honorees will be announced on March 11. A March 25 ceremony celebrating the 150th anniversary of the awards will be held in Washington, D.C., on National Medal of Honor Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Previous Medal of Honor recipients will present the new Citizen Honorees with their awards.

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