By WARREN DILLAWAY - firstname.lastname@example.org
Area residents were honored for their selfless efforts to help others Saturday morning during the American Red Cross Ashtabula County Chapter’s 10th Annual Community Heroes Breakfast at Mount Carmel Community Center.
“We’ve had many true heroes. We have some great Americans,” said Tim Moga, chairman of the Red Cross board of directors.
Main speaker Stuart Cordell, a local attorney with Warren and Young, encouraged those in attendance to look deep into their own lives to see how they can better serve others and the community.
“What is the common denominator in all these cases (award winners)? Human compassion,” Cordell said answering his own question.
He went on to share how studies have shown our society’s commitment to one another has broken down due to many factors ranging from time taken to commute to and from work, to both parents having to work to make ends meet.
“The net result is our communities deteriorate,” he said.
Cordell said all the pieces are in place for our community to thrive if everyone does their part.
Red Cross Executive Director Renee Palagyi said she is amazed at the nominations presented each year.
There was a standing ovation for medalist award winner Frank Hall who was honored for his efforts in the Chardon High School shootings when he chased T.J. Lane from the building last year.
“We can’t begin to imagine how many more people would have died if Frank Hall had not been there,” Palagyi said.
Other medalist winners were David Perala, who helped save a struggling swimmer on July 4, and Brandon Bagley and Bryan Crabtree, who helped save several people from further injury when a car crashed into a gas station last summer.
Marybeth Nassief, and the Nassief Auto Group, were honored for their work with the Ashtabula County Animal Protective League and Gabriel Performance Products received a director’s award for the company’s work in sprucing up the Red Cross office.
Three distinguished hero awards were given to Bill Strubbe, for applying the heimlich maneuver to a person choking at a local restaurant; Tom Hogan, for helping rescue three boaters floating in Lake Erie, and Russell Starkey for donating 31 gallons of blood during the last 67 years.
Community impact award winners were Rock and Retta Dodrill for their work at United Church in Geneva, Inez Gaumer for her work with special needs students, Shirley Corlett, for her work with veterans, Kori Marcy Campbell for her work with grieving families, William “Red” Leonard, for his work as an organizer and fundraiser for a variety of organizations committed to the less fortunate and Chet and Paul Christy for their work helping raise more than $15,000 to help three families struggling with long-term hospitalizations caused by critical illness.