Lake Erie/Heartland heroes celebrated in Mansfield

By: Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

Ten heroes were honored for their bravery in the American Red Cross Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter. On October 4, the Chevy Network and Graham Chevrolet presented the Hero Awards to benefit the American Red Cross and to recognize the extraordinary acts, passion, courage and dedication of the volunteers. The event was held at The Renaissance Theatre in Mansfield.

The event commenced with Matti Lynn Chrisman, Miss Ohio 2008, singing the national anthem and Air National Guard 179th Airlift Wing Commander Colonel Allison Miller providing a video message honoring the efforts and actions by the award recipients.

Ten individuals were awarded, and these are the stories of those honored:

Tracy M. Dodson, Call to Action Hero- While at the Wayne County Fair, Tracy witnessed a person in line in front of her go into cardiac arrest. Tracy, a nurse, administered CPR and continued CPR after the Red Cross First Aid Team arrived. Due to her rapid identification and quick action in stressful conditions, the individual regained a heartbeat and was conscious by the time the rescue squad arrived.

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Dr. Edward Adkins, Health Professional Hero- Dr. Atkins has been a primary care physician for more than 30 years. Along with providing quality, compassionate care to his patients in Ohio, Dr. Adkins does mission trips to third world countries to help heal individuals in dire need of health care. Dr. Adkins has provided care to individuals in Africa and he also traveled to Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.

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Pauline Anderson, Spirit of the Red Cross Hero- Since 2006, Pauline’s quarterly blood drives have collected 1,956 blood donations, and will easily clear the 2,000 mark this year. These drives may have helped save nearly 6,000 lives. Pauline’s extraordinary work as a Blood Drive Coordinator began in 2001, when her step daughter put on a blood drive honoring the life of her mother, who passed away from leukemia a year earlier.

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Hunter Woodruff, Call to Action Hero- Hunter, while driving home from his job, had noticed a car trapped in flood water in Mansfield. Without thinking twice, Hunter pulled over and jumped into the flood water. Due to Hunter’s quick action, the driver of the sinking car was saved.

Officer Ryan Garner, A Presence to Remember- Officer Ryan Garner, a Mansfield K-9 officer, was a fixture of the community. Officer Garner had a passion for being a police officer and was dedicated to not only helping his fellow officers, but also helping individuals in need. Officer Garner passed away from lung cancer in May 2018.

 Officer John Fuller, Police Hero- Officer John Fuller was the first community policing officer in Mansfield, as well as the community’s first bike patrol officer. Officer Fuller was committed to bridging the gap between the police and the community. His love for the community was evident by his interactions with children and their families. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Officer Fuller took personal time and traveled to New York City to help locate individuals trapped in the rubble.

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Merris Welge, Community Educator Hero- Merris has volunteered his time educating the community through the North Central Ohio SCORE organization for 22 years. SCORE is a mentoring program that provides free counseling, advice and resources to people who are in business or who wish to start a business.

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Jan Wendling, Military Inspiration Hero- Jan, a Mansfield resident, served as a tank commander for the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. Following his return from the war, Jan served as a Mansfield police officer and helped develop the Mansfield Vietnam War Memorial.

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Missy Houghton, Animal Advocate Hero- Missy is the passionate director of the Humane Society of Richland County. She is making a difference locally through education and action. One animal Missy helped save was a cat named Vandy. Vandy arrived as a kitten with severe burns, missing an ear and an exposed skull. Missy was able to contact the Horizon Animal Hospital, which performed a skin graft surgery in April 2017. Vandy survived and has made appearances at Humane Society fundraisers.

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The event was managed by Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter volunteer board member Luke Beekman, who also produced a video honoring the award winners, which was shown during the event.

To view photos from the Chevy Network and Graham Chevrolet Hero Awards, visit our Flickr page.

A Week at Lake to River

And What a Week it Was!

As I write this it is Friday night and I am reflecting on our amazing Northeast Ohio volunteers and the Lake to River volunteers so dear to my heart. This has been a week of unrelenting high temperatures and seemingly unrelenting disasters.

Since Sunday, just five days ago, the Lake to River Chapter has, thanks to our volunteers and donors, accomplished the following:

· Canteen for an explosion in Mahoning County that involved several fire departments. Good news is that no one was hurt

· Responded to six home fires

· Held First Aid/CPR classes

· Sent Smoke Alarm teams out on Tuesday to install and were blessed on Friday to have Red Cross volunteers from Canton help install alarms in another 15 or so homes. Thank you to our Canton colleagues for your time and talent.

· Held our 7th annual Acts of Courage event that raises vital dollars to support our mission. Without the help of volunteer’s, name tags would not get done, no one would know where to sit and cars may have parked on an active runway at the 910th Airlift Base.

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Friday, Saturday and Sunday board members, DAT volunteers, support volunteers and others will help us man two locations at the Thunder Over the Valley airshow this weekend. All this in 90 degree heat.

· Saddest of all, for two days we canteened for 50 fire, police, park and rescue divers who were looking for a 16-year-old boy in Mosquito Lake.

In this week our volunteers have experienced the joy of our Acts of Courage Event, got to meet one of the Thunderbird Pilots, met two WWII veterans who were honored, and the sadness of helping multiple families who lost everything in a fire and also had to watch from inside the crime scene tape as divers dragged the lake for a child.

This is the work of the Red Cross; it is what we do across Northeast Ohio and this country.  Our mission is powered by these mighty volunteers whose heart, compassion and knowledge make a difference every day.

As a Chapter Executive, I am humbled by their resiliency and grateful for what they do for us whenever and wherever there is a need. I know all the Chapter Executives and staff share my passion for each and every one of you.

It has been a long, tough week but if next week is even tougher, I know we are up to the challenge. Now it’s time for a Friday night glass of wine!

A grateful Executive Director…Karen Conklin, Lake To River Chapter.

*The Lake to River Chapter serves Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana and Jefferson Counties.  See  our photo album here.  Photos provided by Paul Wadowick, Red Cross Communications volunteer.

 

Cedar Fair Executive Recognized by Gail McGovern

The president of the American National Red Cross, Gail McGovern, has recognized Sanduskian Lee Alexakos for her outstanding contributions to the organization’s vital blood collection program.

National Awards and Recognition Dinner 2017

Lee Alexakos, center, is flanked on the left by Gail McGovern, President and Howie Walz, Vice President of Recruitment

A Biomedical Partnership Award — presented recently at the Red Cross National Award Program in Washington, D.C. — cited Alexakos for expanding the partnership between the Red Cross and Cedar Fair Entertainment, where she serves as Vice President of Community Relations.

Cedar Fair—a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment—is a great corporate partner with Lee Alexakos at the helm. Her extensive work on the expansion of Cedar Fair’s partnership with the American Red Cross helped to increase revenue, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction for our organization. Her successful expansion campaign included gifting the Red Cross over 16 thousand free Cedar Fair admissions to be used to recruit blood donors during the difficult summer collection months; encouraging blood donations by offering prize packs of admission for four; and gifting and promoting a Grand Prize package including family admission, fast passes, and weekend overnight accommodations. The in-kind donations from this campaign were equal to over $1 million from Cedar Fair.

The success of the Cedar Fair partnership enabled laser marketing to our youth markets during a time of the year when it can be challenging to connect with our high school and university partners. Students stepped up to coordinate blood drives in their communities resulting in youth leadership opportunities plus education on the blood donation process and the patients we serve. Lee’s dedication to our organization and endless hours invested of her own time to ensure sponsor and donor engagement were crucial for our life saving mission during the challenging summer months.

The Red Cross is always in need of blood donations.  You can make an appointment to donate at 1-800-RED CROSS, or by logging onto redcrossblood.org.  You can also make an appointment on the Red Cross Blood App, which also records your donation history, and keeps track of your blood’s journey.

(Red Cross Volunteer Eilene Guy contributed to this story)