Heroes honored for ‘Acts of Courage’ in Akron

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

March 6, 2020- I’ve had the privilege of serving on the board for  the Summit, Portage and Medina County Red Cross for nine years. As part of that, I’ve been honored to emcee the annual Acts of Courage and H. Peter Burg Community Leadership Award event with my co-host and husband, radio personality Tim Daugherty.

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Sue Wilson and Tim Daugherty

Acts of Courage honors individuals who have shown extraordinary courage, compassion, character, and humanity. These stories never cease to have a profound effect on me and every single person in the room.

The 24th annual Acts of Courage honored the following individuals:

Matt Martincin and Chris Deeks

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Matt Martincin and Chris Deeks with Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter Executive Director Rachel Telegdy

As smoke billowed from a second-floor apartment building, early in the morning of June 12, 2019, Medina police officers Matt Martincin and Chris Deeks arrived to see two women trapped in an apartment. Despite having a smoke alarm in the apartment, there were no batteries in the alarm.

After attempts to have the women jump failed, Matt and Chris found a ladder on the back of a contractor’s vehicle and used the ladder to rescue the two women and all seven of their pets.

Here is Chris and Matt’s story:

Gregg Whiteman

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Gregg Whiteman with Rachel Telegdy

What began as an ordinary day at GOJO headquarters in Akron, quickly turned to anything but ordinary.

While in a meeting, Gregg Whiteman received a call from a colleague. Realizing how unusual it was to receive a call from someone who knew he was in a meeting, Gregg answered his phone. He quickly realized that something was wrong and that the co-worker needed his assistance.

Remaining on the phone, Gregg was able to gather the proper information to realize exactly where his colleague was, despite his inability to speak coherently.

Thanks to his persistence, Gregg was not only able to find his co-worker lying on the floor of an office, behind a closed door, but his quick response and immediate call to 911 ensured that the co-worker in need was able to be taken to the hospital, where he was given medication to prevent permanent damage from the stroke he was suffering.

Here is Gregg’s story:

Brian Linder

At the end of a workday in downtown Akron, Brian Linder was walking across the skywalk to the garage to go home. As he was hurrying along to avoid the frigid February cold, Brian spotted an individual unconscious and not breathing.

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Rachel Telegdy with Brian Linder

Having just completed a CPR refresher course a few months prior, Brian began to administer CPR until paramedics arrived on the scene.

Here is Brian’s Story:

Jacob Thompson

On February 24, 2019, there was a high wind advisory for drivers. That day, Jacob Thompson was returning to the Kent State University campus following United States Coast Guard drill training in Port Clinton, Ohio.

As he was driving, the high wind took hold of a trailer and threw a semi-truck that was driving in front of Jacob into the center guardrail.

Jacob immediately pulled his vehicle to the side of the road. Upon approaching the vehicle, he was able to see the driver alive, but confused and unable to get out. Jacob then began to remove the top and debris from the truck in order to access the cab so he could pull the driver to safety from the overturned vehicle.

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Jacob is currently deployed on active duty and was unable to attend the event. However, prior to deploying, Jacob was able to receive his award and taped an acceptance video, which was shown during the evening’s activities.

Paul Diven

In October, Stan Hywet maintenance worker Paul Diven saw a crowd gathering during the annual Ohio Mart arts fair. When he made his way to the commotion, he noticed volunteer Bruce DeBarr, who requires oxygen, not breathing.

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Rachel Telegdy with Paul Diven

Understanding time was of the essence, Paul began to troubleshoot to find the issue with Bruce’s oxygen tank. Once Paul spotted that a part was installed incorrectly, he properly installed the part and began to hear the oxygen flowing, helping Bruce regain consciousness. Once Bruce made a full recovery, Paul returned to work at Ohio Mart.

Doug Price, Marcus Council and Barb Fisher

On May 9, 2019, the Akron Fire Department responded to a home fire, with reports of a child trapped in a basement.

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Marcus Council and Doug Price with Rachel Telegdy

With the home engulfed in flames and the basement full of smoke, Akron firefighters Lt. Doug Price and Marcus Council entered the home in search of the young girl. Despite low visibility, Doug was able to find the child unconscious and lying on the ground and covered. Doug and Marcus removed the child from the burning home. She was transported to the hospital, where she was able to regain consciousness and make a full recovery.

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Barb Fisher with Rachel Telegdy

It was later determined that the child remembered the fire safety instructions she was taught a week earlier by her teacher Barb Fisher, ultimately helping to save her life.

Here is Doug, Marcus and Barb’s story:

Jason Strunk, Leslie Snyder and Seth Bond

While waiting at a red light on his way to helping an elderly family friend grocery shop in Akron’s Middlebury neighborhood, Jason Strunk heard gunfire ring out in the street. That is when Jason saw a mother being shot by her boyfriend, while trying to protect her three children, including an infant.

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Jason Strunk with Rachel Teledgy

Without hesitation, Jason jumped out of his car and began to wrestle with the armed individual. At this time, Leslie Snyder and Seth Bond arrived and witnessed what was happening. Seth began to assist Jason in trying to apprehend the shooter, while Leslie attended to the injured mother and her children.

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Seth Bond and Leslie Snyder with Rachel Telegdy

During the exchange, the shooter’s gun jammed. As the shooter returned to his vehicle to find and return with a knife, Jason grabbed the two older children and placed them in his car, while Leslie placed the mother and baby in her car, while applying pressure to the mother’s wounds. Jason and Leslie were able to drive the family to safety until first responders and paramedics arrived.

Here is Jason, Leslie and Seth’s story:

Each of these  stories share one common theme: that the people involved don’t consider themselves “heroes.” And THEY are the ones who are grateful for being able to help someone.  Wow.

Another highlight of this event is  the H. Peter Burg Community Leadership Award, presented to those who best exemplify Pete Burg’s leadership qualities, his compassion for people and his dedication to the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross. This year’s award recipient is Steve Hendricks.

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Steve Hendricks receiving the award from Rachel Telegdy and H. Peter Burg’s daughter Amy Burg Cole

Steve is market president of the Northeast Ohio region for S&T Bank. He served on the Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties board of directors for 9 years and held many leadership positions including board president. After terming off the board, he remains active with the chapter, serving on multiple committees and engaging his team at S&T Bank in Sound the Alarm events throughout the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties. In addition to his Red Cross work, Hendricks serves on multiple boards throughout the area, including the Akron Area YMCA board of trustees. He is also a graduate of Leadership Akron, Class 25

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Akron Area YMCA performing “What a Wonderful World”

Among the tributes honoring Steve, children from the Akron Area YMCA youth program surprised Steve with a performance where they used American Sign Language to sing “What a Wonderful World.”

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The festivities came to an end with a visit by the Akron Fire Department’s fire pup mascot and Northeast Ohio Region Program Disaster Program Officer Tim O’Toole sharing with all those in attendance the importance of smoke alarms and home fire escape plans.

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Tim O’Toole

You too can be a local hero. If you are interested in taking a Red Cross training, such as CPR, life guarding and babysitting, please visit redcross.org/take-a-class to see upcoming classes and to register.

You can also be a hero to someone in need by donating life saving blood. Visit RedCrossBlood.org to find a blood drive near you and to schedule an appointment to give now.

To view more photos from the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter Acts of Courage event, visit the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio’s Flickr page.

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