ASHTABULA — The Ashtabula County Chapter of the American Red Cross will honor local heroes at the annual Community Heroes Breakfast 9 to 11 a.m. March 20 at Mount Carmel Community Center. Held in conjunction with Red Cross Month, the breakfast is also a fund-raiser, allowing the Ashtabula County Chapter to provide assistance within the county for fire families.

Renee Palagyi, executive director of the Ashtabula County Chapter, said that this breakfast has become a true community event over the past several years as nearly 100 heroes have been honored.

“This year, we are pleased to have Tim McCarthy, founder of ‘The Business of Good’ as our guest speaker,” Palagyi said. “He has a wealth of knowledge about business and has dedicated much of his time to assisting non-profits in becoming successful in fulfilling their mission. I can’t think of anyone better able to speak to us about the importance of good works in today’s economy.”

The community is invited to join the Red Cross in honoring the local heroes who have made a difference. Tickets are available ($25 per person) at the Red Cross office, 433 Center St., Ashtabula; or call 440-998-1020.

Palagyi said for the seventh consecutive year, hero nominations have been received for “ordinary people doing extraordinary things.” They are those volunteers who are willing to leave their homes whenever the call comes to make sure a local family who has lost their home to a fire has a place to sleep tonight, and clothes to wear and food to eat tomorrow. They are people who trained in their free time so they can volunteer to set up shelters here or halfway across the country in the wake of a major disaster.

“We think people who learn how to save lives through first aid and CPR are heroes, as are the people who teach them those skills; and our community is a safer place because of them,” said Palagyi. “A heroic act also takes place each time someone rolls up their sleeve to give blood, or takes out a pen to write a check to support the work of the American Red Cross.”

The Heroes Breakfast has become a true community event over the past several years as nearly 100 heroes have been honored.

This year the Ashtabula County Chapter Red Cross will honor the following community members:

• Dave and Bev Dallesandro coordinate a weekly dinner to feed the hungry in the Grand Valley area. The Sunday evening dinner provides food and fellowship to more than 100 people each week.

• Rebecca Nicholson assisted an elderly man whose wife had collapsed. Nicholson provided immediate care, notifying the ambulance and accompanying him to the hospital until other family could be located.

• Steve Polk was driving past a home and noticed smoke pouring out. He stopped and helped the mom, children and pets into his car while the firefighters battled the blaze.

• Capt. Gary Nahrstedt and Firefighter-Paramedic Shaun Buehner of the Saybrook Township Fire Department rescued a dog trapped on an ice float in Lake Erie approximately 200 feet from shore. The rescue involved descending a dangerous bank to reach the animal.

• Jayne Colin regularly donates her time to be mistress of ceremonies for fund-raisers for all types of non-profit organizations and encourages the attendees to open their wallets to support the good work being done by these organizations in Ashtabula County.

• Cassandra Lowery turned a tragedy into an opportunity to help others after her grandfather died in a house fire in 2007. She has since made and donated dozens of blanket sets for young fire victims. Each kit contains a handmade blanket, book and stuffed animal.

• Blair Cool, a graduate of Ashtabula County Joint Vocational School Healthcare Technologies, responded when a resident of a local nursing home stopped breathing. Her administration of the Conscious Choking Procedure was successful and she saved his life.

• Tiffany Payne has worked through Pymatuning Valley Student Council to coordinate the school bloodmobiles since her freshman year. Now a senior, she continues to be an amazing part of the blood drives.

• Ashtabula Branch of Ohio Highway Patrol is being recognized for the investigative work and devoted compassion shown following the hit and run accident which resulted in the death of Melanie Morretti last year.

• Bonnie Hanson, a volunteer for many years through various organizations, will be honored posthumously with the award accepted by her husband, Ray Hanson. In addition to time volunteered through the Ashtabula County Citizen Corps, she served as chairman for information retrieval at the Moving Wall in August 2009.

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