The Firelands Chapter of the American Red Cross will honor 15 local heroes at the fourth annual Firelands Hero Awards March 1 the beginning of Red Cross Month. The award winners have been chosen for their acts of courage and kindness, determination and dedication.
Each of these 15 people has made the Firelands area a better place to live.
Award winners in alphabetical order are:
Red Cross Blood Donor Hero: Raymond Barman, Sandusky, has donated more than 20 gallons of blood to the American Red Cross.
Red Cross Volunteer Hero: Rev. V. Ned Bixler, Sandusky, has served over 37 years as a volunteer for the Firelands Chapter of the American Red Cross. He has served on the chapter's board of directors for 33 years and has also served on several state councils.
Youth Hero: Ryan Hale, Greenwich, although only 8 years old and in the second grade, Ryan saved his grandmother's life by calling 911 when she was suffering from a heart attack.
Lifesaving Rescue Hero: Chuck Herndon, Kelley Island, risked his own life when he pulled 7-year-old Joel Hutchinson out of Lake Erie after the plane his father was flying crashed into the lake.
Community Service Hero: Rose Jaeckin, Willard, is the director of the Plymouth-Shiloh Food Pantry. Jaeckin helps more than 1,200 client families by providing food and other needed services.
Organ Donor Hero: Lisa Long, deceased, became a Life Banc "true hero" by donating her organs when she passed away in August of 2008. Her heart, liver, both kidneys and pancreas were harvested and five lives were saved through her donation.
Community Service Youth Heroes: the Margaretta High School National Honor Society has volunteered for the Sandusky Rotary Club's "Clothe-A-Child" program for the past several years. They are heroes to the young people they help shop for warm clothes.
Lifesaving Emergency Hero: Todd Parish, Sandusky, saved the life of his friend, Joe Dye after Dye fell down his basement steps. Dye suffered a skull fracture and massive brain swelling. Parish's quick response and use of his Red Cross CPR training saved Dye's life.
Military Hero: Captain Larry Robinson Jr., 82nd Airborne Division, U.S. Army, was serving in Iraq as an Army physician when a mortar exploded next to his Humvee. A piece of metal shattered Robinson's skull and fractured four facial bones. His recovery has been nothing short of miraculous, and he hopes to return to Sandusky in the fall to open a family practice.
Education Hero: John Schlessman, Sandusky, has been a teacher, coach, and guidance counselor in the Sandusky and Perkins School Districts. Schlessman has also worked on many youth related projects for the betterment of our community.
Animal Rescue Hero: Maribeth Taylor, Willard, is the president and founder of God's Little Critters an animal rescue shelter in Huron County. Taylor has dedicated her life to giving injured animals humane, professional care and releasing them back into the wild.
Honorable Mention Awards will be given to: Martha Cheetham, Sandusky, she saved her husbands life by giving him the Heimlich maneuver, Tim Hall, New London, saved a seven-year olds life at South Central School by performing the Heimlich maneuver, Sarah Mizlah, and Tanny Von Thron, both teachers at Huron High School, were nominated for the extra attention they gave a student who had missed a lot of school due to illness.
"We have a wonderful group of Heroes this year and I can't wait for the ceremony," said Ron Rude, executive director of the Firelands Chapter of the Red Cross. "March is Red Cross month, so we kick-off the month with our annual Hero Awards. The mission of the Red Cross is to respond to and prepare for emergencies, and we feel these awards honor people who personify our mission by saving lives and improving the lives of those around them."
In November, the Red Cross solicited nominations for heroes from Erie and Huron counties. Winners were selected by a committee of community leaders: Mike Adelman, Ralph Fegley, Bob Bickley, John Borgia, Gene Kidwell, George Mylander, Nancy McKeen and Les Flounders.
The Firelands Hero Awards will be presented March 1 at the Nia Center at Kalahari Resort, U.S. 250, Sandusky. Doors will open at 8:30 a.m. with breakfast beginning at 9. The awards ceremony will follow. Friends and families of the Hero Award winners are invited to attend and the event is open to the public. Tickets are $15 and are available at the American Red Cross, 300 Central Ave., Sandusky, or by calling (419) 626-1641.