Call for Hero Nominations

On a cool night in early spring, a husband and wife heard screaming coming from outside of their front door. A desperate pounding echoed throughout their home. Opening the door, the man saw his neighbors, holding their week-old baby. The baby was not breathing and his lips had started to turn an unnatural shade of blackish-purple.  While the wife dialed 911, the husband grabbed a nasal aspirator and began infant CPR.

In a few heartbeats, the baby’s tiny cry pierced the stillness.

On a different evening, in a different part of town, a man and his fiancé were sitting at a red light, when he noticed a car coming over the hill. It seemed like the driver was intent on rear-ending him, but at the last moment erratically pulled away. As the car drove past, he could see that the other driver was slumped over.

The vehicle blew out a telephone pole and rolled.

The driver side door was crushed, and through the window the man could see that the driver’s head was twisted. A smell like fluid leaking on the hot engine filled the evening. Carefully, he climbed in and pulled the bloody driver out of the smoking car, cradling his head until first responders appeared.

These are true stories of ordinary people who, when faced with extraordinary circumstances, became heroes.

Each year in Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties, and bi-annually in Greater Cleveland, the Red Cross honors individuals with similar stories to those you just read.

The nomination period is almost over for both events.

Do you know a hero?

For Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties visit redcross.org/neoheroes or click here to nominate them online. Nominees must reside or be employed in Medina, Summit, Portage County. The heroic event must have occurred in 2017, but may have taken place outside of Medina, Summit or Portage Counties. The deadline for nominations is December 31, 2017.

For Greater Cleveland visit redcross.org/cleheroes18. Nominees must reside or be employed in Cuyahoga, Lorain, Lake or Geauga County. The heroic event must have occurred in 2016 or 2017. The deadline for nominations is January 2, 2018.

Click here to view the co-chairs of the 2018 Greater Cleveland Hero Awards, Elizabeth Allen and Lisa Roberts-Mamone, as they explain the nomination process.

To learn more about our events, including how to sponsor or purchase tickets, visit redcross.org/neoevents and click on the event.

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Acts of Courage Recognized, Heroes Honored

They’re all heroes.

Nine “Acts of Courage” and the people who performed those acts have been recognized in the Red Cross Lake to River Chapter, which covers 5 counties in Northeast Ohio, from Lake Erie to the Ohio River.  The 2016 Acts of Courage and the Spirit of the Red Cross Award ceremony was held on Tuesday, June 14 at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.

Mercy Health-Youngstown and Mercy Health Foundation are this year’s Spirit of the Red Cross award recipients, for best exemplifying leadership in the community, compassion for its people and dedication to the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross. Mercy President Paul Homick was on hand to receive the award.

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Among the heroes honored were ten employees of Molded Fiber Glass, who performed CPR and used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to revive a fallen coworker.

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Linette Derminer was honored for TWO Acts of Courage.  She founded the KEN heart foundation in honor of her son, who died of sudden cardiac arrest while at football practice.  Through the foundation, Linette donates AEDs to various organizations and helps teach schools, coaches and the community about sudden cardiac arrest in young people.  She was also honored for donating a kidney to a police officer, who she met through her work with the foundation.

David Denovchek was also honored for being an organ donor.  He volunteered to donate part of his liver to save the life of a very sick four-year old girl.

 

16-year old Anna Cristo was honored for saving her mom’s life by performing the Heimlich maneuver.

Adam Robertson, Jerrod Ladd and Stephanie Bonilla received the Act of Courage award for saving the life of a man at Hollywood Gaming and Mahoning Valley Race Course, by performing the Heimlich and CPR for several minutes until EMTs arrived.

 

Matt Miller and Jack McDonald were also honored for performing CPR, after a softball teammate collapsed during batting practice.

 

Austintown roofers Gary Jones, Chris Denno and Richard Markel received the Acts of Courage Award for pulling two people from a burning car.  Michael Lewis ran into a burning apartment building-several times-to alert his neighbors and to carry one of them out of the building. And Tina Vincenzo was honored for applying first aid and providing comfort to the victim of a car crash who was pinned inside his vehicle.

We congratulate all the winners of the 2016 Acts of Courage Awards. And we thank all Red Cross donors and volunteers who help us fulfill our mission: to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

If you know a hero, someone who without regard to his or her own welfare, acts to help another human being, let us know with an email to contactneo@redcross.org.  And if you’d like to help us continue our mission, by providing emergency assistance to residents who are driven from their homes by fire or floods, or by teaching lifesaving CPR, or helping a member of the military get home in an emergency visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS to donate.  OR text  REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Photo credit: Paul Wadowick, American Red Cross volunteer

Greater Cleveland Heroes Honored

A psychiatric nurse who puts his life on the line to treat his patients.

A FirstEnergy Meter Reader who used his first aid training to help a severely injured man.

A U. S. Army Colonel who commands a medical unit responsible for working in combat zones.

A Patient Navigator who helps adolescent and young adult patients recover from cancer.

A Coast Guard pilot who rescued a mariner after his sailboat was smashed on the Fairport Harbor break wall.

A Cleveland Police Detective and two Patrol Officers who administered life-saving aid to an injured man.

And a miniature horse who brings comfort and joy to hospitalized children.

The 2016 American Red Cross Greater Cleveland Hero Award winners were honored on Friday, March 11 during a luncheon ceremony at the First Merit Cleveland Convention Center.  More than 400 people helped pay tribute to the heroes.  They heard Regional CEO Mike Parks update Red Cross efforts to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. And they saw a video featuring the heroes telling their stories.

Sara Shookman, co-anchor of the 6:00 PM and 11:00 PM news on WKYC TV 3 hosted the ceremony.  Channel 3 News covered the event, along with WOIO and Fox 8.

In addition to the hero honorees, Dr. Akram Boutros, President and CEO of The MetroHealth System was presented with the Community Leader Award.

Photo credit: Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross Volunteer

Here are the 2016 Greater Cleveland Heroes:

Thomas Huggins, Visiting Nurse Association

Psychiatric nurse Thomas (Thom) Huggins of the Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio goes above and beyond to help people who are in emotional or mental torment.  Even when they first refuse his help.

Thom visits their homes repeatedly until the patients begin to trust him and to believe him when he tells them that their medication will help, and that their condition is not a sign of weakness.  He knows that if a patient’s mental health and stability improve, the patient’s life will be better and the entire community will benefit.

His courage and compassion have allowed hundreds, if not thousands of individuals to continue their journey to healthy, safe, and independent living.

“To see the spark start to the return to their eyes, that they get it, and to see them feel relief from their symptoms,” says Thom, “What could I ever do that would be better than being a part of that?”

David Bailey, First Energy Corp.

Dave Bailey, a Meter Reader at First Energy, was just finishing up a job at a home in Concord Township when he was approached by another man with a look of horror on his face. The man was a carpenter who was working nearby and had severely injured his hand with a saw. Dave took control of the situation. He recalled the emergency first aid training he received as part of his job.  Dave told the man to keep pressure on the wound to help control the bleeding, and helped keep him calm while they waited for emergency medical personnel to arrive. Dave then activated the emergency lights on his truck to help guide the ambulance crew to their location.

Dave, who is preparing to retire after 15 years with First Energy, is grateful he was able to help a fellow human being in need.

Col. Thomas Dundon, DDS, Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center

Dr. Thomas Dundon is not only Chief of Dental Services at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center,  he is also a U. S. Army Colonel.  He has twice been deployed to war zones in the Middle East. Dr. Dundon has devoted his entire military and professional career to serving Army Reservists and Veterans, and is currently Commander of the 912th Dental Company.

Dr. Dundon was awarded the distinguished U.S. Army Bronze Star, a medal denoting meritorious achievement or service in a combat zone for his deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008.  Through his leadership as the Dental Commander for the entire northern region of Iraq, Dr. Dundon helped more than 12,000 coalition forces and civilians receive quality dental care.

In addition to his military deployments, Dr. Dundon has led numerous dental teams on humanitarian missions to impoverished areas throughout the world, improving access to dental care for thousands of people.

Amelia Baffa, UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital

Adolescents and young adults with cancer can face unique challenges.  They are often caught between pediatric and adult oncology. The medical and social needs of these patients often differ from the needs of infants, younger children and adults.

Amelia Baffa recognizes the challenges these patients face as a Patient Navigator for teen and young adult cancer patients at the Angie Fowler Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Institute at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

She is nationally recognized for her efforts to develop fertility preservation programs for this age group.

Prior to her role as an adolescent and young adult (AYA) Patient Navigator, Amelia was a driving force behind the transformation of blood conservation at the hospital. The standards and guidelines she helped create limited unnecessary pediatric blood transfusions.  She then went on to help other children’s hospitals develop and implement similar programs.  The impact of her efforts has been significant across the country.

Harry Ramsey, United States Coast Guard

Winds were whipping up waves on Lake Erie after sunset on October 8th, when a distress call was received: a sailboat was in danger of smashing into the Fairport Harbor break wall. The seas were 6-9 feet with winds exceeding 20 knots, as a Coast Guard response boat, piloted by Boatswain’s Mate Harry Ramsey arrived. The sailboat did indeed hit the break wall and was taking on water. Despite the extremely challenging weather conditions, and the dangerous proximity to the break wall, Petty Officer Ramsey expertly maneuvered the Coast Guard vessel to rescue the boater from his sinking sailboat.  He executed the transfer flawlessly.

The Coast Guard credits Boatswain’s Mate Harry Ramsey’s bravery, professionalism, and dedication for saving the life of the boater, and preserving the lives of his crew.

Detective John Graves, Patrol Officer Theresa Cavett, Patrol Officer Matthew Cavanaugh, Cleveland Division of Police

Police aren’t often called to chase down someone in need of medical attention.  But it happened one night in December 2015, when Detective John Graves was the first on the scene of a serious car crash on Cleveland’s near west side. Witnesses said a bleeding man ran from the crash. Detective Graves spotted him and gave chase on foot, finally apprehending the man in a yard nearby. He had severe arm and leg wounds.  Arriving on the scene, Officer Matthew Cavanaugh applied a tourniquet to the injured leg, utilizing his recent first-aid training. Officer Theresa Cavett used the man’s belt as a tourniquet on his arm, and tried to keep him from going into shock. Emergency Medical personnel then took man to a nearby hospital, where doctors said a bullet had hit the man’s femoral artery, and that he would have died without the officers’ quick and competent medical attention.

Petie the Pony, Victory Gallop Therapeutic Riding School

Petie the Pony has been bringing joy into the lives of children for nearly 20 years.  He visits patients at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, offering a form of therapy that no doctor or drug can match.  His big brown eyes and his soft muzzle offer warmth and kindness to every child he meets.  He is never impatient, and always finds a way to break through the barrier of pain or sickness to bring joy to children.

Preparing Petie is no easy task.  His handlers Sue Miller, Kim Gustely and Toril Simon of Victory Gallop, a therapeutic horseback riding school, must go through a painstaking procedure to be sure he meets the hospital’s cleanliness standards.  Petie must then negotiate a revolving door and an elevator to access patient rooms.  But the visible joy he brings to a child who hasn’t smiled in weeks is a gift well worth the effort.

Rescue at Sea Inspires Movie, Honors Heroes

The timing couldn’t have been better.

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Coinciding with the open nomination period for the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Hero Awards, was an advance screening of the full-length feature film THE FINEST HOURS, a story about real-life heroes.  Allied Integrated Marketing, publicists for the movie, graciously invited us to promote the Hero Awards at the screening on January 26 at the Capitol Theatre,  and we were delighted to accept the offer.

Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer for Northeast Ohio, spoke to a nearly full theater of guests to the advanced screen. Tim described the Hero Awards program, and the kind of people who have been honored in the past.  Honorees like Cleveland Firefighter Jim Norman, who helped rescue two children from a burning home in 2013.  Jim was in attendance, as were several members of the United States Coast Guard.

The movie, THE FINEST HOURS, depicts what many people believe was greatest small craft rescue at sea in the history of the Coast Guard.

Sara Shookman, news anchor at WKYC Channel 3 took part in the presentation as well, introducing Tim and gamely asking trivia questions prior to the start of the movie.  Sara has agreed to host the Greater Cleveland Hero Awards on Friday, March 11 at the Cleveland Convention Center.

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Cleveland Firefighter and Past Hero Award honoree Jim Norman, Sara Shookman of WKYC Channel 3 News, and Tim O’Toole, Red Cross Regional Disaster Officer

Three Red Cross volunteers: Toni-Kay Attanasio, Stephanie Naumovski Stevoff and David Schindler helped stage the event.  As Tim O’Toole noted, our volunteers perform heroic deeds every day, by helping people who suffer home fires and other disasters.

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Northeast Ohio Red Cross Volunteers Toni-Kay Attanasio, Stephanie Naumovski-Stevoff, and David Schindler

You can become a Red Cross volunteer by logging onto redcross.org/neo, and clicking on the “Volunteer” tab in the left margin.

And you can nominate a hero, through February 1, by visiting clevelandheroes.com.