The Ashtabula County Chapter of the American Red Cross is pleased to announce the latest group of “ordinary people doing extraordinary things.” The following people will be recognized at the Tenth Annual Community Heroes Breakfast on March 2nd, 2013. The breakfast will be held at the Mount Carmel Community Center, 1200 East 21st Street, Ashtabula beginning at 9 am. Heroes and a brief description of the reason for nomination include:
Medalist Heroes: This category recognizes a person or persons who put their own lives at risk to save another person. This year three adults and one youth will be recognized in this category. Brandon Bagley and Bryant Crabtree (age 17), both of Jefferson, were on the scene last August when a car struck the gas pumps at the BP Station on Rts. 46 and 6. They managed to assist a young man trapped between the car and pumps out of the way, assisted a young woman who had been badly cut and finally, pull two people from the car moments before it exploded. They remained calm and kept the victims calm in the midst of an inferno. Frank Hall of Jefferson, assistant football coach of Chardon High School was on duty in the cafeteria last March when shooter TJ Lane began his terrible shooting spree. Though he continues to credit the first responders at that scene, Mr. Hall was the person who dodged bullets to chase the shooter from the building and save countless student lives. David Perala of Geneva was enjoying the end of a great Fourth of July on the beach when he heard shouts from about 25 yards out in the water. As others on the beach remarked about a young man “fooling around” and two other swimmers swam to shore, Perala recognized the man was actually drowning. With a storm approaching and waves becoming rougher, he swam out and managed to get the, by now, flailing victim towed safely to shore.
Distinguished Heroes: This category recognizes those who have saved the life of another. Captain Tom Hogan was returning to shore after a fun fishing outing with several other boat captains. They spotted what appeared to be debris floating about 9 miles offshore and headed over. They soon saw three men, none of whom had a life jacket, barely staying afloat in the lake. Hogan recruited the assistance of a fellow captain and they pulled all three to safety. Geneva resident, Russell Starkey first donated a unit of blood in 1955. He has continued to be a regular donor and is now approaching his 31st gallon donated. Each unit of blood has the potential to save 3 lives which makes his lifetime gift more than 700 lives saved. Chief Bill Strubbe of the Plymouth Fire Department was not on duty as he and his planned to enjoy a relaxing dinner at a local restaurant. His years of training came in to play though, as he was called upon to assist a fellow diner who began choking. His successful use of the Heimlich maneuver allowed the diner to be saved.
Community Service Heroes: The honorees are associated with an extraordinary act of kindness, courage or selflessness. Shirley Corlett of Kingsville has long taken up the cause of veterans and this past year was able to gather church and community support to provide every Cleveland VA inpatient with three small gifts. Geneva residents, Retta and Rock Dodrill are being recognized for their overwhelming support of their church and the people of the area though church dinners, assisting with repairs, serving as trustees, etc. Inez Gaumer of Ashtabula is well-known to the special needs families of this county and is recognized for, among many other things, beginning and providing a Sunday School for these adults for more than thirty years. Another well-known Ashtabula resident, William (Red) Leonard, has been the “behind-the-scenes” man for such organizations and projects as St. Vincent DePaul Society, HALO and others. His tireless work has been instrumental in achieving record-setting collections in our county. Kori Marcy of Conneaut stepped in to help the family of a terminally ill child, Dylan Thomas both in making his dream of seeing a sport star come true, and in providing the costs of final arrangements. Andover residents, Chet and Christy Paul are the founders and “boots on the ground” people behind “Ride 4 Them” which is a one day event raising approximately $15,000 for the families of critically and terminally ill children in this county.
Animal Rescue Hero: This award is given to acknowledge the rescue of a human by an animal or the rescue of an animal by a human. Nassief Automotive has provided donations to APL and used their own advertising to make the public aware of the needs of stranded and abandoned animals available for adoption.
Director’s Award: This award is given by the Ashtabula County Chapter in recognition of an individual or group who best exemplifies, in action, the true spirit of the American Red Cross. This year, the award is presented to Gabriel Performance. Following a long-standing relationship through safety training with the company, staff and employees gave their Community Service Day to the chapter and improved the overall appearance with new fencing along the driveway, interior and exterior painting and new light fixtures.
“This is an incredible year in terms of nominations” said Renee Palagyi, executive director.
“It is our honor to hold these people up for praise and recognition. Each of them has said they don’t feel like heroes, each feels they did what anyone else would have done in the same circumstances. That humility alone makes their actions noteworthy.” The event also serves as a major fundraiser for the Ashtabula County Chapter. Palagyi stressed that all monies remain within the county and are used to provide disaster services. This winter has brought a record number of single family fires with the continual depletion of disaster funds within days of new donations.
Those wishing to support the heroes may purchase breakfast tickets in person at the Ashtabula County Chapter office 433 Center Street, Ashtabula, or call 998-1020. Tickets are $25 per person, reservations are due by Feb. 22 and no tickets will be sold at the door.