Mike Parks recalls Red Cross response to 9/11 attacks

By Mike Parks, Rear Admiral, US Coast Guard (Retired)
Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

Family and Friends of the Northern Ohio Red Cross:  This Saturday, we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our nation.  Now known as Patriot Day, it’s a time to remember the victims and honor the brave responders.  Literally within minutes of Flight 11 crashing into the north tower of the World Trade Center, the Red Cross began mobilizing to provide immediate aid—aid that continued for years.

September 12, 2001. New York City, New York. American Red Cross volunteers receive a briefing at the site of an assistance center near the scene of the World Trade Center collapse. Photo by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

Our massive relief and recovery efforts were funded by nearly $1.1 billion in generous donations, which were used to help more than 59,000 families affected by the terrorist attacks.  The Red Cross provided hundreds of millions of dollars in financial assistance to families that lost loved ones, injured survivors, first responders, residents of lower Manhattan who couldn’t return home, and workers who lost their jobs.  More than 57,000 Red Crossers from across the country (including several from Northern Ohio) served more than 14 million meals and snacks, opened dozens of shelters for people who were left stranded, and connected some 374,000 times with people to provide emotional support and health services.  Hundreds of thousands of individuals lined up to give blood as people from all walks of life showed up to help in any way they could.

As we remember the terrible tragedy of September 11, 2001, we come together as members and supporters of the American Red Cross to mark this day in solemn remembrance and with a renewed commitment to serve those in the face of disasters.  Large scale disasters often bring a nation together—9/11 certainly did.  Here is a short video clip that helps make that point with its stark contrast.  My sincere hope and prayer is that our nation does not have to experience another tragedy like 9/11 to unite us in the pursuit of our precious freedom as Americans.  Thank you for your tireless support of our American Red Cross—the world’s premier humanitarian organization—as we honor those that perished and salute those who preceded us in service. 

Godspeed…Mike

Reflections from two Northern Ohio Red Cross responders will be posted here tomorrow, on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Police Sergeant honored for saving baby’s life

Awarded Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action

Sergeant Greg Patterson of the Richmond Heights police department was the first to respond, after a disturbing call to 9-1-1 about a baby who had stopped breathing.

“When I received the call, my first thought was to get there as quickly as possible,” said Sergeant Patterson. “When I arrived, the mother ran out the front door and handed the baby to me. When I saw that his face was blue and he wasn’t breathing, my training kicked in.”

He then described the actions he took to bring the baby back.

“I sat down on a chair on the front porch and began chest compressions,” he said. “I then turned the baby over and gave him a few back blows.” That’s when the infant began to respond, as he coughed up some mucous that Sergeant Patterson wiped away.

“I could see that he was starting to breathe again. When I saw the color coming back into his face, I was beyond relieved.”

Richmond Heights Police Sergeant Greg Patterson congratulated by Mike Parks, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

Sergeant Patterson has been awarded a Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action, which is given to those who step up in an emergency situation and help save or sustain a life. “Sergeant Patterson’s actions exemplify the mission of the American Red Cross to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Northern Ohio. “He is to be commended for his willingness to help others in distress.”

Sgt. Greg Patterson, Mike Parks, and Kim Riley, Board Chair, Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

“When I arrived, the mother handed the baby to me. When I saw that his face was blue and he wasn’t breathing, my training kicked in.”

Sergeant Greg Patterson

Sergeant Patterson was honored during the June, 2021 meeting of the board of directors of the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. He was accompanied by his wife and daughter, along with Chief Thomas Wetzel, Lieutenant Denise DeBiase, and Records Clerk Latrice Evans, who submitted the lifesaving award nomination.

The Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action is one of three awards bestowed by the Red Cross for lifesaving actions. The Certificate of Merit is the highest award given by the Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course.

Records Clerk Latrice Evans, Sgt. Greg Patterson, Lt. Denise DeBiase, and Chief Thomas Wetzel, Richmond Heights Police Department

The Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders is given to an individual, or team of individuals, who saves or sustains a life, outside of a medical setting, as part of their employment or while on duty and had an obligation to respond. 

If you know someone who may qualify for a Red Cross Lifesaving Award, you can nominate that individual or group by using this online form. And you can visit LifesavingAwards.org to learn more.

Sergeant Patterson doesn’t think he acted any differently than any of his fellow officers would have acted when responding to that call.

“I don’t consider myself a hero,” Sergeant Patterson said. “I just happened to be the one to get there first. I am very grateful that I was able to be there to help.”

The shoulders of giants, the footsteps of heroes

2021 Memorial Day message from American Red Cross Regional CEO Mike Parks,
Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)

Family & Friends of the Northern Ohio Red Cross:  May—what a busy month!!!  There are many things we typically celebrate in May including this year:  Cinco de Mayo (5th), Military Spouse Appreciation Day (7th), Mother’s Day (9th), International Nurses Day (12th), Armed Forces Day (15th), the Red Cross’s 140th Anniversary (21st), and, last, but certainly not least, Memorial Day (31st). 

I’d like to focus on the last two—the founding of the Red Cross by Clara Barton in 1881 and the holiday we now know as Memorial Day both had their origins on the battlefields of the American Civil War.  Clara Barton was inspired and founded the American Red Cross years after she, as a nurse, cared for wounded soldiers during our War Between the States.  The compassion she showed those suffering troops still inspire all of us today fortunate enough to serve in “Clara’s Army”—arguably the world’s premier humanitarian organization—an organization that still serves veterans, members of the Armed Forces, caregivers and their families some 140 years later.  Thank you for all you do to support the American Red Cross!

Mike Parks

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day.  Following the Civil War, which claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history, the country’s first national cemeteries were established.  By the end of the 1860’s various towns and cities were holding springtime tributes to those countless fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.  The first official Decoration Day was May 30, 1868 and Ohio’s own General James Garfield gave a speech at Arlington National Cemetery while 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Civil War soldiers buried there.  Although initially focused on honoring those lost in the Civil War, Decoration Day expanded after World War I to honor those who died in all American Wars.  In 1968 Congress passed legislation which established Memorial Day as a federal holiday on the last Monday in May—a change that went into effect in 1971.   Now, every Memorial Day, we continue to honor those men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. 

“Let us never forget that we are standing on the shoulders of giants and walking in the footsteps of heroes.”

Mike parks, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

Memorial Day weekend is often seen as the unofficial start to summer and we often celebrate with parades, dedications, and other commemorative events.  Unfortunately, many of those activities were cancelled last year due to the global pandemic.  Fortunately, thanks to many restrictions being eased or lifted, a number of these patriotic activities are again being held this year.  I encourage all of us to take some time out of our weekends to help honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy the freedoms we quite often take for granted.  Whether it’s our children or grandchildren, I believe we have an obligation to help ensure future generations will always remember freedom isn’t free and often comes at an extremely high price—a price paid by those heroes we honor on Memorial Day.  Whether we’re at a barbecue, a picnic, a ballgame, at the beach, out on the Lake, or working serving others, let us use Memorial Day to count our blessings as we remember those who courageously gave their lives in defense of our country.  Let us remember to proudly display our American flags and hopefully, we can all pause for a moment of silence at 3:00 pm local time for the National Moment of Remembrance. 

As I close, let us never forget that we’re standing on the shoulders of giants and walking in the footsteps of heroes.  May each of you have a memorable and enjoyable Memorial Day as we honor our nation’s fallen heroes!!  Best regards…Mike

This video was shot on Memorial Day, 2017 in Pepper Pike, Ohio. Mike spoke at the Memorial Day observance in Hiram, Ohio in 2021. Visit our photo album here. Photos by Dave Dreimiller. Visit Dave’s blog for more photos here.

Happy Holidays from the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

By Mike Parks, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

December 23, 2020-Season’s Greetings family and friends of the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio!! 

Mike Parks

Thank you for all your support throughout this incredible year! 

Please watch the video below and have a safe, happy and healthy holiday. 

Looking forward to welcoming in 2021 together!!!! 

All the best…Mike Parks

Happy Thanksgiving from the Northern Ohio Region!

By Mike Parks, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

November 26, 2020- Friends and family of the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio!! 

As challenging as this year has been, and is, for all of us, I feel strongly we still have so much for which to be grateful—not the least of which is your American Red Cross—and YOU ARE the American Red Cross!!

Thank you for everything you do to support our lifesaving mission. Please take less than a minute and watch the video below because if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be priceless!! 

Cynthia, Tiffany and Halle join me in wishing you and yours a blessed and wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving!! 

Best wishes- Mike Parks

Veteran Air Force combat rescue officer recalls how Red Cross provided critical assistance to military families in times of need

By Brinton Lincoln, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio Board Member and Chair, Service to the Armed Forces Committee

In the middle of 2006, deep within Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province where the great Kunar and Kabul rivers conflate, I was jostled awake by our outpost’s on-duty watch sergeant. The American Red Cross was on the phone, looking to pass an urgent message to one of my team members. His sister, just a junior in high school, had been critically injured in a car accident. Unable to contact him directly, his mother and father called upon the Red Cross and the emergency contact services that the humanitarian organization provides. Within an hour, my service mate and his family were together on the phone. No more than 24 hours later, with the financial and logistical assistance of the Red Cross, he was on his way home to be with his sister. 

Brinton Lincoln

On three occasions, including the aforementioned, I bore witness to the benefits of the emergency communication services provided by the Red Cross. In each instance, the world’s most recognized nonprofit humanitarian organization served as the interlocutor between a family in need and their loved one deployed a world away. I, and my fellow service mates, so very much appreciated the support provided by the Red Cross.

As vital as this service is, it is just one of many things that the Red Cross does to support our nation’s military members, veterans and their families. The organization provides nearly a half million services every year to our military constituency. Though not widely recognized, the Red Cross has a presence on every military installation within the U.S., on 36 bases overseas and within your local community.

Chapters across the country brief more than 787,000 service members and their families each year through the “Get to Know Us Before You Need Us” program. For the deserving military demographic, the Red Cross provides support programs within military hospitals and clinics, informational and referral services at a local level to assist veterans with unmet needs, mind-body workshops, educational programs to help military families cope with deployments, reconnection workshops, and various programs within our VA hospitals. 

Brinton Lincoln and Regional CEO Mike Parks at the annual meeting of the Greater Cleveland Board of Directors in June, 2019

The wonderful volunteers of the Red Cross work tirelessly every day to provide comfort and care to service members, veterans and their families the world over. In doing so, they embody, quite literally, the spirit of Clara Barton who, during the Civil War, founded the Red Cross to care for combat wounded soldiers.   

Should you wish to contribute your time to support the military community, contact your local Red Cross chapter and ask to speak with a representative on its Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) team. Perhaps you will be the one to assist an anxious family in their time of need by connecting them with their loved one serving in a far-off land.  

For more information on the Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces, visit redcross.org.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer
Photo credit: Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

Mike’s Veterans Day message for 2020

By Mike Parks, Rear Admiral, US Coast Guard (Retired)
Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

Greetings Northern Ohio Red Cross Family:  2020 has been a year filled with enormous challenges for our country and the American Red Cross including a devastating global pandemic, significant economic downturn, civil unrest brought about by social injustice, an unprecedented hurricane season, deadly Western wildfires, and a contentious election season.  All of these things, as well as countless others, have impacted our workforce, families, clients, donors and partners, bringing some degree of concern, anxiety and uncertainty.  One thing that has remained constant throughout this tumultuous year, has been the American Red Cross—the Red Cross you serve—has continued to meet mission each and every day!!  Thank you!!

Mike Parks

This week, despite all of the challenges, we can also gain comfort and certainty, as well as have confidence, in those men and women who have served, and are serving, in our Armed Forces to keep us safe and ensure we never lose the freedoms that have been won at such a high price.   As we all know, the American Red Cross has its roots in serving those who served in our military—our Veterans.  In honor of Veterans Day 2020, which we commemorate on Wednesday the 11th of November, I’ve included a link to a video clip that I encourage you to watch.  The clip shows the Texas Tenors singing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” 

I think its lyrics and the images are far more inspiring than anything I could offer in this message.  I know I felt my spirits lifted as I listened and watched it—I hope yours are as well.  In closing, please take time to reach out to a Veteran, past or present, and thank them for their service to our country—please show them by your actions that they served, or are serving, a grateful nation.  Please stay safe and well. 

Best regards…Mike

Personal Memorial Day reflections of RADM Michael N. Parks, U.S.C.G. (Ret.), CEO of the American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region

By Mike Parks, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

May 25, 2020- Memorial Day 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly be like no other in my lifetime. The first Memorial Day I remember was when I marched (in the loosest meaning of that term!) as a young Boy Scout in our rural Upstate New York town’s annual parade. A few years later, I marched in the same parade (with just slightly more precision) in our high school’s small marching band. When I joined the Coast Guard, my marching definitely improved and the parades got bigger until I was honored to be marching in front of the largest Memorial Day parade in our nation, held in Chicago. When I retired, I had the pleasure of taking in a true slice of Americana with my family as we watched our small town parade in Bay Village, Ohio. Truly, Norman Rockwell could have used those scenes for any number of his iconic patriotic paintings!

Now that I’m part of the American Red Cross, I’ve had the privilege of sharing our humanitarian organization’s story at local Memorial Day events. In Pepper Pike, I explained how the Red Cross’ treasured history finds its roots on the battlefields of the Civil War when its founder, Clara Barton, rendered aid and comfort to wounded soldiers. That tragic war between the states was also the genesis of Memorial Day, which was originally known as Decoration Day.

Mike - uniform

Regional CEO Mike Parks

And that brings us to 2020 when our nation, and the world, battle the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Parades and special events have been cancelled all over our country due to social-distancing requirements and concerns about large gatherings impacting the spread of the often-fatal coronavirus. Yes, our commemoration of this important holiday we celebrate on the last Monday in May will definitely change this year. But what won’t change is the enormous debt we owe those men and women who sacrificed everything so we could enjoy the freedoms that we still enjoy today, despite COVID-19. As is often said, “All gave some, some gave all!”

I will still proudly display “Old Glory” on Memorial Day. I hope you will as well.  Memorial Day is one of 22 days during the year we should display the American flag. That said, Memorial Day is the only day when the flag is flown at half-staff for the first half of the day, and then raised to full height from noon to sundown. This unique custom honors the deceased for the morning and living veterans for the rest of the day.

mike-whites

Although our weekend gatherings with families and friends may be curtailed this year, I do hope we will all take time to reflect on those who have gone before us and not take for granted our precious freedoms. I’m reminded of President Abraham Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg, “…that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…”  Yes, “how” we commemorate this Memorial Day will change, but the “why” we commemorate this Memorial Day remains unchanged—to honor and pay fitting tribute to those men and women who gave their lives in service to this great country. I’m proud to be an American representing a grateful nation that honors those fallen service members on this unique Memorial Day. I hope you’ll join me. God bless America!

Greater Cleveland Heroes – 2020

Breakfast ceremony held at the Global Center for Health Innovation

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

March 13, 2020- Nine people and one Labradoodle were honored at the 2020 Greater Cleveland Hero Awards breakfast on Thursday, March 12, at the Global Center for Health Innovation in Cleveland. And Ronn Richard, the President and CEO of the Cleveland Foundation was recognized at the Community Leader Award winner.

Read more about the Hero honorees, and the events that led to the recognition below:

  • Sixteen-year-old Elise Kilmer of Burton was in her room with her Labradoodle Saige last November, when suddenly, Saige began to bark continuously. When Elise opened her door, Saige bounded down the stairs to the kitchen. Elise followed, and found her grandmother lying on the floor unresponsive. Elise recalled her American Red Cross training, and applied it during this critical situation. First, she called 9-1-1. Then, she checked for a pulse and began performing CPR, continuing until medical personnel arrived. Her grandmother credits Elise with saving her life. Elise is also a Red Cross-trained lifeguard.  She was also presented with a Certificate of Merit, the highest award the American Red Cross offers to someone who used their Red Cross training to save a life. Watch Elise’s story here.

Elise Kilmer

Elise Kilmer

  • Cleveland Heights Police Officer Josh Robertson, the first to arrive at the scene of a home fire in July, was told by a distressed mother that her 6-year-old son was trapped inside. Disregarding the heavy smoke inside the home, and without the benefit of any protective clothing or equipment, Robertson pushed his way into the home and crawled on the floor in an effort to find the boy. He couldn’t see the child, but he heard the sound of moaning and followed it until he felt the boy, grabbing him by his clothes and dragging the child to safety, despite being overcome by smoke. He and the child survived. Watch Josh’s story here.

Josh Robertson

Josh Robertson with Regional CEO Mike Parks and Greater Cleveland Chapter Board of Directors Chairman Chris Mapes

  • Sandra Patrick of KeyBank has played a crucial role in helping meet the demand for blood, which is vital to the survival of hospital patients undergoing surgery, cancer treatment and other medical conditions. Patrick has organized blood drives at two KeyBank office locations for more than 10 years, and she has been instrumental in increasing sponsorship and participation. She is currently the point of contact with the Red Cross for 12 different blood drives, and recently expanded the drives to include other building tenants. Beyond her management of blood drives, Patrick has also recruited other KeyBank employees to help with Sound the Alarm, the Red Cross initiative to save lives by installing free smoke alarms. Watch Sandra’s story here.

Sandra Patrick

Sandra Patrick

  • On the morning of Thursday, Sept. 19, a Jack Casino surveillance team member was working when he went into full cardiac arrest. Within a minute, coworker Charles Fuller called for assistance and began administering CPR. Less than a minute later, security training instructor Jacqueline Duthie arrived to assist, and within a minute of that, security manager Hassan Ali arrived with an AED. It was the first time he had been called to use the lifesaving device since receiving CPR/AED training four years earlier. Fuller, Duthie and Ali continued to provide medical attention until paramedics arrived. The stricken coworker survived, and doctors confirmed that without the immediate lifesaving response, the outcome most likely would have been much different. Watch Charles, Jacqueline and Hassan’s story here.

JACK Casino Heroes

Charles Fuller, Jacqueline Duthie and Hassan Ali

  • Amanda Berry endured one of the most horrific experiences imaginable, being held captive for 10 years after being kidnapped at age 16. But she never lost hope, and 10 years later, she and her toddler daughter escaped their prison, and helped lead two other female captives to freedom as well. Since that time, Berry has dedicated her life to raising her daughter, and to help find missing persons who may be experiencing the same horrors she did. She appears on Fox 8 News, looking into a camera, describing those who have gone missing, and asking viewers for help finding them. Berry is not a trained broadcaster or news reporter, but she fearlessly puts herself out there to help others, because she genuinely cares about them, even though they are strangers. She knows they all have family members who are awaiting their return—just as her family members did. Despite her traumatic past, Berry is making the most of her present, and is looking forward to a bright future for herself, her daughter and others she may have a role in helping return home. Watch Amanda’s story here.

Amanda Barry

Amanda Berry

  • Nine-year-old Troy Cavadas of Columbia Station was watching his dad try to burn a tree stump with kerosene outside their home in early November when fuel splashed on them both, setting their clothes on fire. Troy had just learned how to stop, drop and roll at school less than a month earlier. He didn’t panic and was able to put the flames out on his clothing. He then yelled, “Roll, Daddy, roll, roll!” But the fire kept growing. Troy then grabbed a garden hose and soaked his dad with water until the flames went out. Firefighters call Troy a hero.
  • Part two of this hero story involves the firefighter who taught Troy the fire safety skills that helped save him and his dad. Columbia Township volunteer firefighter Brett Wilson visited Troy’s school just one week before the 23-year-old firefighter lost his life trying to help two people involved in a car crash. Wilson was electrocuted after coming into contact with a downed power line. Troy’s father, Jed, credits Wilson with saving his life. Brett’s parents, Barb and Gary Wilson, accepted the award on behalf of their hero son. Watch Troy and Brett’s story here.

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Troy Cavadas and Brett Wilson’s parents Barb and Gary accepting the award from Regional CEO Mike Parks and Greater Cleveland Chapter Board of Directors Chairman Chris Mapes

 

Ronn Richard’s Community Leader Award was presented by Regional Red Cross CEO Mike Parks, and Chris Mapes, President and CEO of Lincoln Electric and Chairman of the Red Cross of Greater Cleveland.

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Ronn Richard accepting the Community Leader Award from Mike Parks and Chris Mapes

The event was hosted by long-time Cleveland television journalist Denise Dufala.

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Denise Dufala with Chris Mapes

To nominate a hero for the next Hero Awards, complete the online form.

Visit our Flickr page to view more photos from the 2020 Greater Cleveland Chapter Heroes and Community Leader Award.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Happy Holidays from CEO Mike Parks

December 25, 2019- As residents across Northeast Ohio gather with family and friends to celebrate the holidays, Regional CEO Mike Parks has issued his annual holiday message.

Watch the message below to learn about the impact the Red Cross has made in the lives of those affected by disasters in 2019 and Mike Parks’ hope for 2020:

Also, Regional CEO Parks experienced what he considers to be a miracle one week before Christmas Eve.  And one week before Christmas, several children who went through the trauma of a home fire in 2019 experienced the miracle of holiday gifts, thanks to generous employees of TravelCenters of America and Red Cross volunteers.

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Listen to a special holiday episode of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio’s podcast Be A Hero, where Mike Parks discusses his experience and the miracles the volunteers of the Red Cross perform every day. Listeners can subscribe to Be A Hero on Apple podcasts and Spotify.