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.
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.
* * * * *
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.
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.