Sunday, Jun 24, 2018
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'Everyday' people honored for not-so-everyday heroics in Monroe County

MONROE - A hero is defined in Webster's dictionary as a mythological or legendary figure, an illustrious warrior, or person of extreme admiration or devotion.

While the "everyday heroes" recognized last week by the Monroe County chapter of the American Red Cross are neither mythological or illustrious, they deserve admiration for their achievements.

Debbie Davenport, director of community outreach and volunteer services for the Red Cross chapter, said the recipients of the awards are unsung heroes who have done something outstanding that made a difference or helped the community.

"Heroes can come in all different forms," Ms. Davenport said.

The 11 "everyday heroes" picked in 10 categories include an Army Ranger who was killed in Afghanistan and a family cat who roused a woman and her two children from a burning house.

Ms. Davenport said those recognized for achievements are often modest in accepting recognition for their actions.

"They really don't feel that they are a hero. The police and fireman believe that it was part of their jobs. Some of the others feel that if it had happened to them, they hoped somebody would have done the same thing for them," she said.

Pfc. Eric Hario, 19, who was killed in combat Aug. 29 in a mountainous area of Afghanistan, was chosen in the local military hero category.

The 2008 Monroe High School graduate enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 17 and entered basic training in July, 2008, to fulfill his dream for a military career.

"Eric's parents always encouraged him to follow his dreams, and that he did. He always strived to be the best. He wanted to be a ranger because they are the best, all the way," according to the Red Cross news release.

Monroe County Circuit Judge Joseph Costello, Jr., is chairman of the 11-person committee that was responsible for reviewing the 24 nominations and picking the winners. "It is reassuring to see that so many good people are out there. The only tough part is the military hero award because so many times the award is given to a fallen hero," Judge Costello said.

The other everyday heroes honored and their exceptional efforts were:

•Temperance resident and retired Fermi 2 nuclear power plant employee Wayne Meehean was selected as the labor/union hero.

Mr. Meehean has been active as a volunteer in the community, including the "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" youth bed program at First Presbyterian Church in Monroe, the Salvation Army's Backpacks for Kids, and the United Way's annual Easter egg hunt.

A member of the Utility Workers Union of America Local 223 AFL-CIO, he was a group leader in the 2009-2010 United Way campaign.

"He has a long history of community service. He is involved in everything," said Mike Smith, AFL-CIO community services liaison to the United Way of Monroe County.

•Monroe police Cpl. Chad Tolstedt crawled through a burning apartment on June 30 to find and carry out the person who lived there. He earned the award for law enforcement hero.

•Rhonda Goins, a registered nurse, gave emergency medical treatment to a woman who was knocked unconscious on Dec. 16 at a Walmart. She was the recipient of the medical professional hero award.

•Monroe Public Schools bus driver Don Delano was recognized as the workplace good Samaritan for taking extra steps to get a wheelchair ramp built at the home of a disabled student on his bus route.

•Twin 8-year-old sisters Katie Hemwall and Erica Hemwall received the youth good Samaritan hero honor for life-saving actions they took when their older sister, Shayna Hemwall, passed out and went into a seizure at their home in Monroe on July 6. Katie called 911 to get medical help while Erica turned Shayna on her side to keep her breathing.

•Caleb Hosler, 8, used a fishing net pole to reach and keep his 5-year-old brother from slipping under the ice after he broke through an ice-covered channel leading to Lake Erie at a relative's home. Caleb was given the youth good Samaritan award for his heroic action in March, 2009.

•Travis Smith entered the burning bedroom of their home near Petersburg to carry his older brother to safety after the mattress in the room caught fire because of a faulty electrical outlet. Mr. Smith, a 2008 Summerfield High School graduate, received the adult good Samaritan award.

•Stitch was nominated by its owners for the animal hero award because they believe the family cat alerted Jennifer Merling to the fire that destroyed their home in January, 2009. She said she woke up after hearing Stitch's meows in time to carry her two children to safety.

•Nick Duvall received the community hero award for going the extra mile to help James Bartel after a fire last June gutted the second floor of his home. Mr. Duvall and another man replaced the roof and framed the walls after Mr. Duvall secured donated materials and recruited other volunteers.

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