No one knows how they would behave in a life-or-death situation until they face one head on. We would all like to believe we would react with courage and quick-thinking, but in many emergency situations people can become frozen, waiting for someone else to take action. That is what makes the bravery and prompt response by two Ashtabula residents honored by the America Red Cross so worthy of praise.

Judy Shreve, who works at Martini’s Restaurant as a waitress, and also at the YMCA as a swim instructor, was honored at The American Red Cross Lake to River Chapter’s 2019 Acts of Courage awards ceremony for saving the life of Simone Campbell, 91. Shreve not only realized Campbell was choking on a piece of meat during an Ashtabula Senior Center Bridge Club night at the restaurant, but she performed the life-saving abdominal thrusts that dislodged the food.

Shreve said that when a waitress came into the kitchen that November day and said someone was choking, her reaction was just instinct. “I’m not a hero, I just did what I needed to do,” she said. “I was just doing my job basically, that’s how I feel.” We disagree. Those actions and attitudes are exactly those of a hero, and we applaud Shreve for her effort. 

The Red Cross also honored Madison Withrow, 10, of Ashtabula, who saved several family members in a July fire in Ashtabula that killed her mother and two of her siblings. Withrow saved 4-month-old twins and took them outside and laid them on the front lawn, then went back into the home to rescue her 22-month-old brother and tried to save her mother and brothers as well, but she could not get back into the home a third time. While this was a tragic, heartbreaking loss, the unselfish actions and courage of a young child prevented even more devastation. She is an inspiration to all.

“The courage and fortitude of this special young child is unmatched,” according to the Red Cross, which will honor the 10-year-old at a private ceremony. “She is indeed a true heroine. It is not the size of the hero but rather the size of the heart.”

We appreciate the Red Cross for honoring those who put others before themselves, and encourage anyone who would like to nominate someone who has performed an extraordinary act for the 2020 Acts of Courage Awards by calling 330-392-2551 by April 15.

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