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.

rescuers assisting an unconscious man with cardiac resuscitation

20th Annual Acts of Courage event in Akron a success!

We are so pleased to be able to honor those in our community who have acted courageously to save the life of another. Each of the stories we have presented at the annual Red Cross Acts of Courage in Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties over the past twenty years have inspired so many people to step up and do the same.

We continue to be amazed by these people.

This year the Red Cross presented the Acts of Courage award to ten individuals.  Whether saving a woman from a home fire, pulling a man from the wreckage of a car accident or performing an abdominal thrust to save a classmate, each of these honorees are so deserving of the recognition.

Here are their stories:

Colin Bues was recognized for performing abdominal thrusts to save the life of a classmate.

The self-described class clown, 9-year-old Weston Bauer was throwing cheese puffs into the air and catching them in his mouth during a classmate’s birthday party. One of these got lodged in his throat. Weston couldn’t breathe. He motioned that he was choking, but the other children thought he joking. Colin Bues, also 9-years-old, knew something was wrong. He ran to Weston and performed a quick abdominal thrust, the kind he had seen on a safety poster in the lunchroom at school. The puff went flying out of Weston’s mouth.

After confirming that Weston was okay, Colin threw the bag of cheese puffs in the trash. He was very pleased that he had helped his friend, but didn’t want it to happen again.

Edward Kocsis Jr. was recognized for saving a man following a car crash.

As Edward (Ed) Kocsis, Jr. and his fiancé were sitting at a red light, he noticed a car coming over the hill. It seemed like the driver was intent on rear-ending Ed, but at the last moment erratically pulled away. As the car drove past, Ed could see that the other driver was slumped over. The vehicle blew out a telephone pole and rolled.

“You see someone in trouble, and it’s just natural,” said Ed of his next move. “When you see something like that you don’t think, you just act.”

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

Officer Brandon Bridgewater was recognized for saving multiple families and carrying a child from an apartment fire.

Three days into his career as a full-time Windham Police Officer, Brandon Bridgewater was first on the scene of an apartment building in flames. Running through the residence, he pounded on doors to wake residents. At one apartment, a startled mother and small child turned back for another child who was upstairs. Officer Bridgewater ran into the smoke filled apartment and carried the second child out into the cold night.

As they watched the flames, Officer Bridgewater kept the numerous, displaced families warm by bringing coffee from a nearby convenience store and letting the young and elderly wait in his cruiser until the Red Cross was on the scene to assist them.

Carolyn Hanson, and Kristin Dowling were recognized for performing CPR on a neighbor who had collapsed.

It began as a very unusual day for Carolyn Hanson. She had woken up with a backache on the morning of Dec. 30, 2014. When her husband suggested that they take a walk to work out the kinks on the nearby City of Stow Hike and Bike trail, she decided to take him up on it. Walking on the trail was something they did regularly, though not usually at that time.

On their way they met up with David Dluzyn, a neighbor who had just finished his morning run. As they were talking, David stopped suddenly and fell backwards – smack – on to the pavement. The couple called 911, and Carolyn began CPR. Neighbors began to come out to see what was happening. Carolyn, not knowing anything about David except for his name and that he lived somewhere close by, instructed one to look in David’s shoe where he had previously mentioned that he kept identifying information. After locating the slip of paper, the neighbor ran home to get his daughter, Kristin Dowling, who was also trained in CPR.

Kristen, who had received Red Cross training as a lifeguard, and Carolyn began to trade off doing compressions until the paramedics arrived.

David is recovering and continues to run on the trail.

 

Kizzy Spaulding was recognized for rescuing a woman from her burning home.

“You notice things,” said Kizzy Spaulding, an Akron-area postal worker. “Clients start to become family.”

As Kizzy walked her East Akron mail route, an unusual smell permeated the neighborhood. She noticed that one of her clients was not out working in her yard as was her daily routine. Kizzy sensed that something wasn’t right. She doubled-back and opened the client’s mail slot. She glanced through the small area and noticed the smell was coming from the home. She could see the elderly client holding her head and laying on a couch inside.

Kizzy began to call to the woman. She seemed dazed and did not respond. Fearing for her client, Kizzy pushed open the door and carried the slight woman outside. She called 911 before she returned to the house and doused the smoking stove.

Once first responders were on the scene, Kizzy picked up her mail pouch and returned to her route.

Scott Nelson and Bob Moore were recognized saving a man who was drowning in the freezing waters of the Ohio and Erie Canal.

It was well below freezing on January 9, 2015. Bob Moore and Scott Nelson were waiting for a car repair to be completed, and decided to find some place close to eat. They found a small establishment right on the Ohio & Erie Canal.

Inside they chatted with the owner, Stephen Risner, and made friends with his dog, Sam.

Shortly after ordering their food, a woman came into the lounge shouting that there was a man thrashing in the frozen canal. Scott and Bob ran out to see what was going on and found Sam, wet and whimpering, wandering the shores of the canal and barking for his owner. Stephen had fallen in while trying to rescue Sam from the water.

Scott waded into the water, while Bob retrieved a long extension cord from the car. After tossing the cord, the two were finally able to pull Stephen from the icy water.  First responders arrived on the scene and helped Stephen up the embankment and treated Scott, whose clothes were wet and cold.

Sam was put in a warm car.

Ashley Feldman was recognized for saving man who was had fallen outdoors during the polar vortex.

On one of the coldest mornings of 2015, Ashley Feldman was on her way to her job as a receptionist when she noticed something in the open field near the dog park at Liberty Park. The object struck her as odd, so she stopped to investigate.

It turned out to be an elderly man who had gone to the park to let his dog run. He had lost his footing in the deep snow and, having recently had replacement surgery in both knees, was unable to pull himself up.

Despite not being dressed for the frigid temperatures, Ashley ran to him. As she tried to provide him some warmth, he confided that he had been laying there for 45 minutes.

Kelli Chronister was recognized for performing CPR on a fellow bike rider during the Sweet Corn Challenge.

Kelli Chronister

In the July Sweet Corn Challenge bike ride, Kelli Chronister was riding behind a man who fell off his bike in the middle of the road at mile 22 of the 25 mile ride. She recognized a full-arrest heart attack and immediately started CPR. She continued for several minutes and as other cyclists and the police got to the scene, they took turns administering the CPR. When the emergency crews arrived they administered the defibrillator. The 52-year-old victim later learned that he had a serious heart condition that required surgery. The emergency people said that without that immediate help given by Kelli and others he would have died. Kellie teaches respiratory therapy at UA.

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To commemorate twenty years of celebrating acts of heroism, we launched a CrowdRise campaign at the event to encourage community members to #GetAlarmed and be a hero in our community by supporting our smoke alarms initiative, Operation Save-A-Life.  Through donations given at the event we raised $2,015 which will help us install smoke alarms in nearly 67 homes! If you wish to donate, visit bit.ly/GetAlarmedSPM. We would also encourage you to share the message with your friends and family. Together we can help save lives.

This year’s event raised nearly $140,000. Proceeds from last night will assist us in providing Red Cross services throughout Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties.

rusleorach.jpg

In addition to recognizing the heroism of area residents at the event, we presented the H. Peter Burg Award to Leonard Foster, a community member who has been selfless in service to the community by demonstrating a lifelong commitment to humanitarian causes, charitable organizations and the vitality and welfare of the local community.

Extraordinary things happen every day…

Imagine waking up to a blaring smoke alarm.

 Through the bleary haze of your sleep-filled eyes, you begin to realize what is going on.

 Your first thoughts are of others who occupy your home – maybe your spouse, the children, a pet. You think about how to get them to safety. You trace the routes in your head.

 But then an extraordinary thing happens. In the fog of fear and smoke, you hear a neighbor calling out to you.

 “Are you all right? How can I help?”

 In that single act of selflessness, a hero is born.

This March, during national Red Cross Month, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio will honor the heroes – those ordinary members of our community who acted in extraordinary ways – in two communities.

The Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter will host the 20th Annual Acts of Courage on Thursday, March 3 at the Akron/Fairlawn Hilton. All through 2015, people were asked to submit their heroes. We will feature the stories of the honorees on this blog following the event. Tickets are available by going to the website: www.redcross.org/acts16

The Greater Cleveland Heroes event will take place on March 11. For information or to order tickets, please visit www.ClevelandHeroes.com, email laurie.klingensmith@redcross.org, or call 216-912-4091.

Red Cross of Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties celebrate the 2015 Acts of Courage

The Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter is pleased to announce the local heroes who were honored for their bravery and heroism at the annual  Acts of Courage event on Thursday, March 5.

The 2015 Honorees included:

Donald MoleskyChristopher Silbaugh and John Underwood were recognized for saving the lives of a couple after a torrential downpour left them trapped in their flooded basement.

A tornado watch was in effect for Cuyahoga Falls. As the water line began to rise during the sudden and torrential downpour in May of 2014, the Hammonds family sought safety in the basement of their home. Once the threat of a tornado had cleared, the children returned to the main floor of the house, leaving their parents to clean-up a small amount of water that had seeped through one of the windows.

Suddenly, the basement wall caved in taking a natural gas line with it. Water rushed in, trapping Michaelann and Mike in the dark stillness of the basement. They rose on the crest of the water until their heads touched the ceiling. The floor joists offered the only air space, though it was tainted by the noxious fumes of the gas. They pounded on the wood, calling to the children to go and get help.

The Hammonds siblings – Emma, Matthew and Sonia – swam across the street to the home of their neighbor, Donald Molesky. Their screams alerted many of the neighbors, including Christopher Silbaugh,  and strangers like John Underwood, whose truch had gotten stuck in the flooded road. John, Christopher and Donald ran to the house.

They pulled an ax from the Hammonds garage and used it, along with Donald’s power saw, to cut through the floorboards. They were able to free Michaelann. Working hard but carefully, they finally pulled Mike through the floor.

Peter Radke was recognized for saving a girl from drowning in Lake Erie.

Peter Radke had agreed to take his daughters and their friends to Lake Erie’s Huntington Beach for a birthday party. Though they knew the water was too choppy to swim, Peter noticed a girl in the water who was struggling to stay afloat. Peter was an excellent swimmer. In spite of the conditions, he dove into the water.

He reached the girl and was able to push her to a safe area where others could grab her.

As they did, Peter struggled to bring himself in.  He was pulled further out into the temperamental, black waters of Lake Erie.  Then he was pulled under, not to resurface.  Peter lost his life to save that drowning girl.

David EiseleDave Wokaty and Officer Justin Winebrenner were recognized their actions when a gunman entered a crowded pub.

Dave Wokaty, David Eisle and Officer Justin Winebrenner were each enjoying a night out with friends at a local pub when Wokaty noticed the manager having an altercation with a customer.

15 minutes later, the customer returned brandishing a weapon. The manager asked Wokaty to see the customer out. Their voices rose in anger. Officer Justin Winebrenner, an off-duty Akron Police officer, and David Eisele joined Wokaty in seeing the customer out.

“From that moment, in my perspective, everything began to move slowly,” said Wokaty.

The gun went off. Though their fearless, and quick thinking saved many patrons and staff members, Wokaty was shot in the stomach and arm.

Officer Winebrenner received a fatal shot.

“I believe,” continued Wokaty,” if it weren’t for Justin, I wouldn’t be here now.”

The gunman ran off. He was caught shortly afterwards by the police.

Jason Duncan was recognized for performing CPR to save the life of a 7-day old infant.

On a cool night in early May, Jason Duncan and his wife Krista heard screaming coming from outside of their front door. Then they heard the sound of someone desperately pounding. Opening the door, Jason saw his neighbors, Bobbi Jo and Dustin holding their seven-day-old baby, Logan. The baby was not breathing and his lips had started to turn an unnatural shade of blackish-purple.  While Krista dialed 911, Jason grabbed a nasal aspirator and began infant CPR.

In a few heartbeats, Logan’s tiny cry pierced the stillness. A sound that Jason and Dustin describe as one of the greatest sounds they ever heard.

Essien (Chris) Cobham and Samantha Phillips were recognized for performing CPR on a visiting student at Kent State University.

Kent State University student, Chris Cobham, was studying in a quiet area of the Student Union on campus, when he heard a thud. A high school student who had been visiting the campus was choking. Quickly assessing the situation, Chris stepped in and began abdominal thrusts on the boy. He slid him to the ground and began CPR once the student’s lips turned blue.

Samantha Phillips, who was cutting through the Student Union on her way to her next class, heard the panic in the conversations of those around her. She went to investigate.

“It’s instinct to go and help someone,” said Samantha, who is working on a degree in Athletic Training. Part of her curriculum is Red Cross certification in First Aid and CPR.

She could see that Chris was getting tired. Pulling out her CPR breathing mask, Samantha assisted breathing as Chris administered the chest compressions until help arrived. The boy was taken to the hospital, and is now back at home.

Bill Adkins and Tony Hylton were recognized for performing CPR on a friend, and fellow Seville Bronze worker.

When Jim Robinson fell to the floor not long after arriving at work, suffering from a massive heart attack, Bill Adkins and Tony Hylton responded quickly.  Trained as part of the company-sponsored first responder team at Seville Bronze, they never thought they would be called to perform CPR on Jim.

“Jim was Superman at work. To be pushing on your friend of 18…20 years? It was devastating,” said Tony.

Their extensive training in Red Cross First Aid and CPR kicked in and they were able to help maintain Jim until paramedics arrived.

“If not for the efforts of Bill and Tony, Jim may not be alive today,” said Chief Jerry Winkler of the Seville-Guilford Fire and EMS.

Officer Derrick Jackson,  and Officer Chris Crockett were recognized for saving a man from a home fire.

Officers Chris Crockett and Derrick Jackson reported to the scene of a house fire where someone was still inside. Knowing that seconds count in a fire, Officer Jackson, a new recruit on the Akron Police Department, pushed his way into the building. Thick smoke bellowed from the house. He came back out to catch his breath.

Officer Crockett returned to the police cruiser for a facemask to filter the smoke. Diving into the home, he too began searching around for the resident as Officer Jackson guided to him from the open door. Once the man was located, the officers pulled him to safety.

Devon McConnell, Ethan Cameron, Paul Martin and Andy Reece were recognized for saving two women and an infant from a fire.

Four Ohio Edison linemen — Devon McConnell, Ethan Cameron, Paul Martin and Andy Reece  — sent to a job site in Rittman, were just getting ready to break for lunch when they heard a woman’s voice screaming, “Fire!”

Looking around, Paul Martin saw a woman standing on a balcony, holding a baby in her arms.

The crew called 911. Knowing that time was of the essence, they quickly moved into position. Moving their truck closer to the building, Devon raised the bucket and grabbed the family. As he was lowering the woman and child to the ground, another woman appeared on another balcony and began yelling for help. As heat rolled out of the open door, Devon returned to rescue the second woman. It took five fire departments to contain the blaze.

All four men have first responder certification, as well as Red Cross First Aid and CPR training. They view their actions as just another facet of their job.

“We are fortunate to have a sense of pride in our jobs. It is an amazing feeling, simply to see the lights come on,” said Paul.

Melvin Davis and Steve Myers were recognized for saving a woman from an apartment fire.

On a Friday night in October, a resident at the apartment complex where Melvin Davis is a Live-in Assistant ran into his apartment to alert him to a fire in one of the apartments. Moving quickly, Melvin grabbed his pass key and followed the man. He could smell the smoke. He called out to the resident, an elderly woman. She answered that she was hurt and couldn’t get to the door.

Melvin opened the door. Struggling to breathe, he couldn’t see more than two feet in front of himself. He called out again. He moved into the apartment but returned to the hallway when he heard the door slam shut behind him. Steve Myers, a resident of the complex, was in the hall and offered to hold the door so that Melvin would be able to find his way out.

Melvin returned into the smoke and crackling flames of the apartment. Working between the sound of the woman’s voice and the sound of Steve’s, he was able to pull the woman to the door. Steve and Melvin moved her to the safety of the stairwell and then began helping the rest of the residents out of the building.

“It was just a blessing to help her,” said Steve.

Officer Adam LeMonier, Officer Darren McConnell and Officer Gregory Mesko were recognized for saving a woman from a home fire.

Officers Adam LeMonier, Darren McConnell and Gregory Mesko were called to a smoke filled home. Neighbors reported that the resident was at home and had not been seen. Moving quickly, the officers made the decision to enter the home and search for the woman. The Officers found her asleep on her bed unaware of what was going on. She was quickly removed from the home.

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In addition to recognizing the heroism of area residents at the event, the American Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties will present the H. Peter Burg Award to a community member who has been selfless in service to the community.  This year’s recipient is William (Bill) J. Ginter, who demonstrates a lifelong commitment to humanitarian causes, charitable organizations and the vitality and welfare of the local community.

While CEO of FirstEnergy and chair of the local Red Cross Board of Directors, H Peter Burg established a legacy of dedicated service to the Greater Akron community. Following his death in 2004, the American Red Cross established an award in Pete’s name to honor his memory and inspire others. By bestowing the award on Bill the Red Cross recognizes his lifetime of community service.

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Honoring seven everyday heroes at the 15th Annual Real Heroes Awards

On May 15th, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio celebrated the 15th Annual Real Heroes Awards Event.

The event, held at the beautiful Bertram Inn in Aurora, raised over $22,000 for the services and programs of the Red Cross in Northeast Ohio.

The 2014 Honorees include:

David Irland was recognized for using his First Aid knowledge to save a choking child.

During a lunch period last spring, David Irland, a teacher, noticed one of his kindergarten students not acting quite right. Within seconds, David could tell the boy was choking. Quickly and quietly, he knelt behind the boy and performed an abdominal thrust which dislodged a very large bite of sandwich. He took the kindergartener to the school nurse and they were back in the lunchroom within 15 minutes.

Now a first grader, the boy only remembers that his head slumped over and Mr. Irland came up and gave him a big hug.

 

Chance Singer was recognized for rescuing a family from an early morning house fire.

Chance Singer was driving home from work around midnight when he and his passengers spotted the roof of a house consumed by fire. Noticing a car in the driveway, Chance pulled over and ran to the house to alert the residents. After banging on various doors and windows, he had to run back to  his car to recover from the smoke. When he returned for one more attempt, he heard a dog barking. He watched as the family ran out of the burning door. The oldest son had been woken by Chance’s pounding and had pressed his family into action. With the home engulfed in flames, Chance got them across the street to safety.

Chief Seth Riewaldt was recognized for 35 years of altruistic commitment to the Aurora Community and for creating the Community Enhancement Team (CET) and K-9 unit.

Chief Riewaldt will retire in June with 35 years of service to the community of Aurora. He worked his way through the ranks, first as a dispatcher and then as an officer, and was appointed Aurora’s Police Chief in 2003. In his tenure, he has increased the size of the force and assembled funding for the city’s Police K-9 unit. In an effort to enhance the department’s response in the community the Chief created the Community Enhancement Team (CET), which is a division of three officers assigned to address concerns of residents and business owners. He initiated the school resource officer program with the local district, which has grown from one officer to two.

Bart Alcorn was recognized for creating Clay Eddy Fields Kiwanis Park and developing employment programs for area adults with disabilities.

When his daughter was young, he saw a need for more athletic fields in the area. Bart, co-owner of Eddy Fruit Farm, started his own non-profit and began raising funds to create the Clay Eddy Fields Kiwanis Park. The park grew to include baseball and soccer fields which are open to all local teams. It is now the home to the Special Olympics Softball Tournament.

Through the Special Olympics, Bart has become a proud supporter of adults with disabilities. He is taking on a new project that will tie the family business to the community members he has come to know and love. “The Green House Project” will provide fresh vegetables through Eddy Fruit Farm to the community at large all year round and will create jobs for adults with disabilities.

Andrew Wawrin was recognized for inspiring community members to donate over 500 pints of blood to help more than 1500 recipients through the annual Christopher Wawrin Blood Drive.

When his son, Christopher, passed away due to a violent act in December of 1997, Andy Wawrin wanted to observe his birthday in a way that would continue to honor his legacy. Each year he hosts a blood drive on the weekend of Christopher’s birthday. Christopher, who had been a regular blood donor, had received over 100 units of blood while fighting for his life.

In the past 16 years, the family has inspired nearly 500 people to come and donate blood and helping 1500 patients in local hospitals to receive the lifesaving treatments they need.

Zoe Burch was recognized for reporting the threat of school violence.

Zoe was in an online chat room during her second year at Kent State University when she noticed a violent threat towards a high school in Pennsylvania. She reported the threat to Kent State Police which led to involvement from Pennsylvania authorities and the FBl. The threat was confirmed and the suspect was arrested thanks to Zoe’s quick actions.

Dr. Judah Friedman was recognized for going above and beyond to assist his patients when they need it the most.

Dr. Judah Friedman loves the science behind medicine, but his passion is allowing his patients to finalize their lives without their focus being on doctors and hospitals.  Dr. Friedman visits his patients at various hospitals as a friend, he takes their prescriptions to them so their time is spent with family not driving to pharmacies. He will also continue his care as his patient’s transition to hospice and provide his personal cell phone number to be contacted anytime, day or night, even if it’s just to talk. Dr. Friedman goes above and beyond to make sure his patients are focusing on the truly important people in their lives.

Portage County community hero, A. Ray Dalton of PartsSource, was awarded the Robinson Memorial Paragon Award for his contributions to improve Portage County and the world around him.

 

Ashtabula Chapter Hosts 11th annual Heroes Breakfast

 

On the morning of March 18, the Ashtabula County Chapter hosted its 11th Annual Heroes Breakfast.

The event, which honored 11 community heroes, was held at Our Lady Peace Community Center in Ashtabula.

For more coverage, check out today’s Star Beacon article.

 

Summit and Portage Counties Chapter Hosts 18th Annual Acts of Courage Event

On March 6, the Summit and Portage Counties chapter hosted its 18th Annual Acts of Courage Event.

The event, which took place at the Hilton in Fairlawn, was attended by nearly 350 guests.

In case you missed the evening, or simply wanted to see the videos again, here is an encore presentation of the heroic stories honored that evening.

Kelsey Parkman was recognized for rescuing his Vacation Bible School instructor from drowning.

The last day of Vacation Bible School at New Covenant Sanctuary of Praise started as a rainy summer morning. As a result, 14 year-old Kelsey Parkman had not planned on swimming at the end of the week celebration at Turkeyfoot Lake. As the sun broke through the clouds, Kelsey changed his mind and joined his friends in the cool water. They began playing a game of keep-away with his instructor. Suddenly, the instructor began struggling and calling for help. While many observers thought that it was a joke, Kelsey saw the panic in his teacher’s face. Although Kelsey had no training in lifesaving, he had taken Red Cross swimming lessons a few years earlier. A strong swimmer, Kelsey swam over and realized that they were at place where the bottom of the lake dropped off. He pulled the instructor to a shallow depth and they returned to their game. It wasn’t until the ride home that the magnitude of his actions hit Kelsey.

John Duckworth was recognized for pulling a man from a burning car.

John Duckworth had worked an hour over his regular shift and was heading home at 2:30 in the morning. He was driving along his regular route when he observed a Hummer crashed down an embankment on Route 224. Its hazard lights were blinking and the engine was still running. He called 911 and then went to see about the driver. Another car stopped and a man got out. Assured that the driver was okay, John turned to go back to his own car. Stopping at his door, he heard shouting. Flames licked the hood of the car. John and the second man ran back to the Hummer. They reached into the burning car but the driver was trapped. Recalling that a colleague had recently returned his baseball bat, John sprinted to his trunk to retrieve it. He swung at the Hummer’s windshield. After several swings, the windshield shattered. John and the second man were able to free the driver and pull him away as the vehicle was engulfed in flames.

Hayden Lukasik-Barber, Officer Vince Danko, Officer Nick Szaibel and Officer Brandon Heisler were recognized for saving Emily Cable from her burning home.

On March 29, 2013, Officer Brandon Heisler was the new guy on the beat. He was out on patrol with Officer Vince Danko when they received a call to report to a possible fire. When they approached the home, nothing looked unusual. Then they noticed 9 year-old, Hayden Lukasik-Barber standing at the rear of the house motioning them to the back. Hayden quickly explained that 70 year-old Emily Cable was in the home she shared with Hayden and his grandmother, Ruth Barber. Officer Danko opened the back door only to encounter the heart of the blaze. With the back door blocked by the fire, Hayden led the officers to the front of the building. While they ran he described the layout and where he and Ruth expected Emily to be waiting with her walker. Black smoke had begun to pour through the front of home. Officer Danko plunged into the darkness and dropped to his knees once the smoke overcame him. Outside, Officer Nick Szaibel had also responded to the call. Unaware of the drama taking place at the front of the home, he attempted to enter through the rear door. The heat was too much and he retreated. Seeing Hayden, he ran to tell him to move away from the house. It was then that he learned what was transpiring.

Using the tile design as a marker of where he was going, Officer Danko crawled through the room and connected with the leg of Emily’s walker. Step by step they worked their way back through the rooms to the open door where Officer Heisler guided him the rest of the way by his gun belt.

“I didn’t feel anything until my Chief showed up. It was just my job, but talking with him made me realize all the things I risked,” said Officer Danko.

Brian Nichols was recognized for performing first aid on a car accident victim.

At approximately 2:30 a.m. on October 12, 2013 Brian Nichols heard a terrible crash outside of his home. Brian, a volunteer with the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team, ran to the site. In the wreckage of the three car accident, he observed a woman with a compound fracture of her leg and bleeding profusely. Brian sprinted back to his car and retrieved his first aid kit. On his way back to the scene he told a bystander to check in with the nearby Fire Department. Handing his flashlight to another onlooker, he attempted to control the bleeding until the paramedics arrived.

“You just respond at the scene then you go back to your home and let it sink in,” said Brian. He credits his Red Cross training for his quick response.

Jace Fletcher, was recognized for reporting a student with a gun.

May 16th was a day like any other for 11 year-old Jace Fletcher. He woke up, got dressed and prepared to ride the school bus to his classes. After boarding the bus, Jace sat down only to observe a student sitting nearby who was loading a gun. He watched as the boy slipped the magazine in and heard the click of the bullet as it slid into the chamber. Thinking quickly, he realized that he didn’t want to confront the boy, either by calling attention to the gun or by telling the bus driver, in the tight quarters of the school bus. Safe inside his first class, Jace took action. He quietly alerted two teachers to the situation.

“Jace is a Hero,” said Sergeant Ken Dies, the school resource officer. As a Bully-Free Facility, the STEM School encourages students to take a stand by not joining the activity, walking away and telling a trusted adult. Jace’s thoughtful actions that day prevented a potentially devastating situation.

Dr. Melani Sherman and Dr. Humberto Choi were recognized for performing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on a fellow competitor during the Cleveland Triathlon.

The morning of the Cleveland Triathlon, 44 year-old Todd Rains was at his physical peak. Three weeks earlier, he had had a complete physical and all looked good. On his way to the race, he spoke on the phone to a couple of friends who called to wish him well. In heat of the race, he had just finished the swimming portion and moved on to the cycling section when he went down. Dr. Humberto Choi, a fellow racer, saw him on the ground. He leapt from his own bike and ran to Todd. Approaching, he announced that he was a Cleveland Clinic doctor. Todd’s skin was blue and he had no pulse. In spite of having finished his own swim through Lake Erie, Dr. Choi immediately began Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). “Those are the moments you just get energy from places you never knew existed,” said Dr. Choi.

From her bike, Dr. Melani Sherman noticed the two men up ahead on the course. As she approached, she flew off the bike. Shouting her credentials as an emergency room doctor from Akron General Medical Center, she proceeded to assist Dr. Choi with compressions. As precious minutes ticked by, the odds were growing against Todd. Once an ambulance was finally able to make its way through the course, Todd was taken to an area hospital and the doctors continued on to the finish line.

Through various channels, the doctors learned that Todd had survived. They were both overjoyed.

“That was not a professional situation. That was very personal,” said Dr. Choi.

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Thank you, once again, to Todd Biss Photography in Akron for providing the videos.

The chapter will host a Real Heroes of Portage, Lake and Geagua Counties event on May 15. To be a sponsor or to purchase tickets please contact Shelley Sprang at shelley.sprang@redcross.org