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.

Akron middle school students present creative ideas for disaster relief

By Debbie Chitester, Disaster Program Manager, Summit, Portage and Medina Counties

January 24, 2020- Two years ago I partnered with the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School in Akron. This year I was asked to partner with the STEM Middle School sixth grade on a project. They use problem-based learning in their school. The problem they were presented with was: How can we, as concerned citizens, work together to assist the emotional needs of survivors of natural disasters and consider:

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  • The structure of the response needed
  • The geographical location
  • The emotional needs of the young people affected

The class of more than 100 learners identified the American Red Cross as an organization that helps with disaster relief but was not sure how we did that. In mid-December I visited the classroom and talked about what we do during disasters, including sheltering, feeding, how we use GIS and mapping to make decisions, how we work with partners as well as how we deal with the emotional part of disaster relief. Their questions were thoughtful, and they had a lot of them.

STEM augmented reality cube

A month later, I was invited back for the presentations. “Impressive” and “amazing” were the words that kept coming out of my mouth. The students were separated into small groups and had been assigned various disaster types — flood, tornado, hurricane, drought, chemical spills, blizzards, etc. The solutions were unique, well thought out and, in some cases, mind blowing. I couldn’t believe sixth graders came up with these things!

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One team, assigned drought, developed a board game. This game was fun as well as educational. Through question and answer cards, it detailed how to conserve water or reasons drought happens.

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A few teams created websites. One for chemical spills addressed how to avoid them, what to do if one affects your home and who can help. They handed out a card with a QR code linking you to their website, and plan on distributing them around Akron so residents can learn more. Another website created a pen pal site for those affected by a disaster so they could connect with someone willing to share their experiences with others. One team created an augmented reality with a 3D cube that when you put your phone or tablet in front of the cube it showed, from all angles, a beach, the fish swimming in the ocean and the sun shining above it. The student said, “Well this is pretty basic.” Far from basic to me!

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This list can go on and on. I wish I had a few more hours to have walked through every display to hear all their ideas and presentations.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer 

Reflections of a former board member

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

June 16, 2019- Last week I attended the annual meeting of the board of directors for the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross. But it was more than

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L to R: Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter Executive Director Rachel Telegdy, Sue Wilson and Pam Williams

just the final meeting before the summer break. Amidst the business of thanking outgoing board members like me and recognizing new board members to take the place of those exiting, it was time to thank the volunteers—without whom the Red Cross could not accomplish its mission.

I am always moved—amazed but never surprised—to hear the stories of the heroes that make up the many volunteers who are the first responders. Those who show up and stand alongside to help people who have truly experienced the worst day of their life.

The volunteers who have:

  • installed 2,000 free smoke alarms. making 700 homes that didn’t have them safer, as part of the Sound the Alarm campaign.
  • responded to more than 120 home fires, providing residents in our three counties with help and hope.
  • deployed to the Greater Dayton area to help those affected by the recent deadly and destructive tornadoes—running toward disaster while most are running away.
  • given blood and/or found ways to encourage blood donation, especially as part of the Missing Types campaign, which strives to increase the nation’s blood supply by bringing attention to the more rare, missing types of blood, A, B and O, potentially saving more than 75,000 lives.

The thing that hit me most, however, after I received my certificate of appreciation for nine years of board service, was how little I felt I had done compared to these heroic volunteers. And how inspired I feel to continue on, if not as a board member, as a volunteer for this incredible organization so that I can help to continue its legacy of service. I can’t help but feel especially inspired to “be like Pam.”

Pam Williams received the H. Peter Burg award last year for her lifetime of service to our community and the Red Cross. She also steps down as board chair, passing the gavel to Alan Papa, president and chief operating officer for Cleveland Clinic Akron General. Pam truly is a dedicated volunteer. This small space cannot list her many acts of selflessness:  from sleeping in shelters alongside victims of disasters, to driving a forklift, to serving as our government liaison before and while she was our board chair.

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New board of directors chair Alan Papa speaks at the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter annual meeting

Last week may have been the end of my three-term, nine-year stint as a member of the Red Cross board of directors. But it was the first day of my continuation of a commitment to be a better volunteer for this amazing organization so that I can not only be more like Pam but also like the many volunteers who make up the Red Cross family.

Click here to visit our Flickr account to view photos from the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter annual meeting.

Red Cross worker gives blood to honor dad’s memory, sister’s recovery

By Mary Williams, Special Events and Marketing, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

AKRON, January 23, 2019 – I went through a phase, not so long ago – in the early 2000s, when I listened to the Greatest Hits of Dan Fogelberg incessantly.

(I promise that this is going somewhere Red Cross related, folks!)

I lived with my parents at the time and would listen to the music, primarily, while doing my homework at the dining room table. The perfect place for everyone in the household to hear my obsessive 70s lite rock journey.

My father stopped on his way to the kitchen during the song Longer one day. With tears in his eyes, he confided that the song reminded him of my sister and the time when she was very sick (which would have been sometime around when the song originally came out.) With lyrics such as “longer than there’s been stars up in the heavens, I’ve been in love with you,” the song perfectly verbalized the love of a father for his daughter.

She had been diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura, and while doing wonderfully now – nearly forty years later, the ensuing procedures and doctor visits were frightening for my father.

Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura, as defined on the Mayo Clinic website, is a blood disorder that can lead to easy or excessive bruising and bleeding. The bleeding results from unusually low levels of platelets – the cells that help clot blood. Early symptoms mirror those of leukemia and other scary sounding blood related disorders.

“Though the binding cracks, and the pages start to yellow…”

Today is the sixth anniversary of my father’s passing, and so, in honor of him (and my sister) this afternoon I walked down to the Summit Blood Donation Center to donate.

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Mary Williams

The need for blood is constant.

The Red Cross currently has an emergency need for blood and platelet donors to give now to help ensure lifesaving medical treatments and emergency care are not delayed or canceled this winter. The Red Cross collected more than 27,000 fewer blood and platelet donations the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s than needed to sustain a sufficient blood supply, as busy holiday schedules kept donors away. Blood and platelet donations are needed in the coming days so that lifesaving blood products are available for patients who depend on transfusions for everyday survival.

You can help by donating (or if you can’t donate, finding a friend who can donate in your place) today by simply visiting www.redcrossblood.org and entering your zip code to find a blood drive near you.

If you, like me, are in Summit County, stop by our fixed site at the Akron Office (501 W. Market St., across from The Tangier) during these times:

Mondays; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Tuesdays; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Wednesdays; 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Thursdays; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Fridays; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Saturdays; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sundays; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Special Recognition For a Special Red Cross Volunteer

What HASN’T George Figel done as a volunteer with the American Red Cross?

The Akron resident was honored by the Center for Community Solutions as a “Most Treasured Volunteer,” at the agency’s Celebration of Human Services on Tuesday, November 17, 2015.  He is one of 5 “MTV” recipients for 2014-2015.

George currently volunteers 3-4 days a week as a Blood Donor Ambassador, greeting donors, helping them through the registration process, and making sure they’re comfortable after they make their donation.

During his nearly 30 years of volunteer service, George has: worked on local and national disasters, driven for medical transportation, helped maintain Red Cross facilities, worked with Youth Services, and represented the Red Cross at national conferences and local health fairs.

He has even taken pictures at various events.

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Photo credit: Jim  McIntyre/American Red Cross

George was accompanied by a contingent of Red Cross staff members, including Ann Catanese, Lynne Lisner and Lindsay Harris of Blood Services, and Debra Kellar of Volunteer Services.

Another Red Cross volunteer, Ruby Dailey of Warren was also congratulated as a Commended Volunteer. She has volunteered since 2000.

“These two volunteers are really dedicated to helping us support the mission of the American Red Cross,” said Pat Buckhold, Volunteer Services Officer for the Northeast Ohio Region.  “Their commitment to community service over such a sustained period of time shows just how much George and Ruby care about others.”

Other volunteers honored included Long Term Care Ombudsman Robert Blusko, Louise Dempsey of the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools, Mr. Shirley Stevens of University Hospitals and Dr. Mark Massie of the West Side Catholic Center.

 

Angel of the Battlefield: Celebrating Ordinary People that do Extraordinary Things

Everyday heroes are ordinary people that do extraordinary things. Clara Barton was an ordinary person whose ideas and passions for others made her the “Angel of the Battlefield”, a hero in the American Civil War.

Clara Barton - US Patent Office

US Patent Office

Born in Massachusetts on Christmas Day, Clara grew up enjoying the wonders of the world. As a child she tended to her brother, David after a farm accident where he fell from the rafters. At 15, she became a teacher and opened a free public school in New Jersey. Throughout the 1850’s she worked for the United States Patent Office in Washington, D.C.

Following the first battle of Bull Run in 1861, Clara provided immediate assistance to federal troops, despite the social mores of the time, which said that the battlefield was no place for a woman. She provided clothing, food, and supplies to the ill and wounded she also read to the troops wrote letters fro them, and listened to their problems.

Matthew Brady Portrait of Clara Barton

Portrait of Clara Barton

In August of 1862, she appeared at a field hospital in Cedar Mountain, in northern Virginia at midnight with a wagon-load of supplies drawn by a four-mule team. Her assistance left the surgeon on duty in awe. The surgeon later wrote, “I thought that night if heaven ever sent out a[n]… angel, she must be one – her assistance was so timely.”

From that time on, Clara became known as the Angel of the Battlefield as she assisted troops in the Battlefield of Fairfax, Chantilly, Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Charleston, Petersburg and Cold Harbor.

The Red Cross shares stories of everyday heroism to inspire other people to act with generosity. The Red Cross of Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter will present its 2015 Acts of Courage event recognizing ordinary people that perform extraordinary acts to save a life, on March 5 at the Akron/Fairlawn Hilton.

Red Cross is currently calling for heroes to be recognized at the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter event in April and the Lake to River Chapter event in June.

To be considered for the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter Hometown Heroes award, nominees must reside or be employed in Carroll, Harrison and Tuscarawas County. The Heroic event must have occurred in 2014, but may have taken place outside of Carroll, Harrison and Tuscarawas Counties. Click here to access the online nomination form.

Nominees residing or working in Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana or Jefferson Counties may submit a nomination for the Lake to River Chapter Acts of Courage Event. The heroic must have occurred between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2015. To download the nomination form, visit the Lake to River Chapter event page.