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.

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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.

Angel of the Battlefield: Celebrating Ordinary People that do Extraordinary Things

Everyday heroes are ordinary people that do extraordinary things. Clara Barton was an ordinary person whose ideas and passions for others made her the “Angel of the Battlefield”, a hero in the American Civil War.

Clara Barton - US Patent Office

US Patent Office

Born in Massachusetts on Christmas Day, Clara grew up enjoying the wonders of the world. As a child she tended to her brother, David after a farm accident where he fell from the rafters. At 15, she became a teacher and opened a free public school in New Jersey. Throughout the 1850’s she worked for the United States Patent Office in Washington, D.C.

Following the first battle of Bull Run in 1861, Clara provided immediate assistance to federal troops, despite the social mores of the time, which said that the battlefield was no place for a woman. She provided clothing, food, and supplies to the ill and wounded she also read to the troops wrote letters fro them, and listened to their problems.

Matthew Brady Portrait of Clara Barton

Portrait of Clara Barton

In August of 1862, she appeared at a field hospital in Cedar Mountain, in northern Virginia at midnight with a wagon-load of supplies drawn by a four-mule team. Her assistance left the surgeon on duty in awe. The surgeon later wrote, “I thought that night if heaven ever sent out a[n]… angel, she must be one – her assistance was so timely.”

From that time on, Clara became known as the Angel of the Battlefield as she assisted troops in the Battlefield of Fairfax, Chantilly, Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Charleston, Petersburg and Cold Harbor.

The Red Cross shares stories of everyday heroism to inspire other people to act with generosity. The Red Cross of Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter will present its 2015 Acts of Courage event recognizing ordinary people that perform extraordinary acts to save a life, on March 5 at the Akron/Fairlawn Hilton.

Red Cross is currently calling for heroes to be recognized at the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter event in April and the Lake to River Chapter event in June.

To be considered for the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter Hometown Heroes award, nominees must reside or be employed in Carroll, Harrison and Tuscarawas County. The Heroic event must have occurred in 2014, but may have taken place outside of Carroll, Harrison and Tuscarawas Counties. Click here to access the online nomination form.

Nominees residing or working in Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana or Jefferson Counties may submit a nomination for the Lake to River Chapter Acts of Courage Event. The heroic must have occurred between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2015. To download the nomination form, visit the Lake to River Chapter event page.