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Meet Our 2016 Heroes

  • Connecticut - Meet our 2016 Heroes

Meet Our 2016 Heroes - Connecticut

Community Resilience Hero- The City of Milford

The City of Milford is recognized for their incredible recovery after Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, earning them this year’s Community Resilience Hero Award.

In October 2012, Superstorm Sandy hit the coast of Milford, Connecticut, destroying much of the shoreline. During the months and years following the storm, the City of Milford has worked with government and civilian forces to restore their broken shoreline, while upholding a standard of excellence. Thanks to the efforts of Milford’s Fire, Police, Public Works, and Health Departments, the National Guard, and civilian heroes, Milford was able to have the streets cleared and safe for travel in only a week’s time.

Milford reacted similarly when faced with Hurricane Irene in 2011, demonstrating the city’s history of community and recovery. While both storms brought horrific damage and destruction, they also brought Milford together as a community, with neighbors and strangers alike helping one another in their time of need.

In reaction to the City of Milford’s nomination for the award, Mayor Benjamin Blake stated “We’ve been tested and we have withstood each test, and once again, we’ve proven what we’ve always held to be true, that if you’re lucky enough to live in Milford, you’re lucky enough.”

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Meet Our 2016 Heroes - Connecticut

Lifesaving Hero- Jovany Roman

Jovany Roman, a 16-year-old student at Weaver High’s Culinary Arts Academy in Hartford, sprang into action when he heard a man was in distress in the parking lot of his workplace. His actions that day and his desire to help others make him this year's lifesaving hero.

On April 26, 2015, a distraught customer entered Jovany’s workplace, asking if anyone knew CPR. Without hesitation, Jovany ran to the parking lot where he found a man unconscious in a car. Jovany proceeded to pull the man out of the car where he performed CPR on him for seven minutes until paramedics arrived. Jovany’s heroic and selfless actions are the reason the man survived.

This was the first and only time Jovany has performed CPR, which he learned from his gym teacher the year before his heroic act. When asked if he had to do it again, he said he would, as he is pained by lives being taken away daily due to preventable causes.

When Jovany was asked how he would define the word hero, he stated, “a hero is someone who performs an action to help someone in need of help in a terrible situation.”

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Meet Our 2016 Heroes - Connecticut

Military Hero- United States Coast Guard

The United States Coast Guard has earned this year’s Military Hero Award for their coordinated rescue of two boaters on a cold November day from the frigid waters of Long Island Sound.

Two men boating in Long Island Sound found themselves in peril when their boat struck rocks and quickly started taking on water. Mayday was called from the boat and received by the Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound Command Center. Instructions were given to the boaters to use their personal locator device to help the Coast Guard pinpoint the boat’s location. A vessel was dispatched from Coast Guard Station New London, and aircraft from Coast Guard Station Cape Cod was diverted to maintain a visual on the scene.

The victims were located and pulled from the water just as the boat sank. Both were transported to Noank, Connecticut where they were placed in the care of EMS personnel.

Most boaters are not as prepared as these two were on this fateful day. They were able to place a Mayday call, had a personal locater beacon, and had lifejackets which they put on at the first sign of trouble. The Coast Guard was nearby, both on the water and in the air, and the boaters were rescued with only minor injuries.

If you ask the members of the Coast Guard about this heroic rescue, they will all tell you this is just part of the job.

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Meet Our 2016 Heroes - Connecticut

Spirit of the Red Cross- Mark and MaryGrace Gudis and Norwalk Hospital

Mark and MaryGrace Gudis have formed and funded an initiative in conjunction with Mike Daglio, president of Norwalk Hospital, Grace Linhard, chief development officer of Norwalk Hospital Foundation, and Matt Soicher, director of EMS at Norwalk Hospital, to promote the need for more Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs, and expand CPR training in their community. For this, they are being honored with this year's Spirit of the Red Cross Hero Award.

The Gudis family was inspired to start this initiative after Mark helped save the life of a collapsed teenager. On October 23, 2015, Mark Gudis, a Norwalk Hospital Trustee, helped resuscitate a collapsed teenager who experienced sudden cardiac arrest using a portable AED he carries with him in his car. This prompted Mark and his wife, MaryGrace, to form and fund an awareness initiative, partnering with Norwalk Hospital to place 100 AEDs in the towns of Westport, Wilton, Weston, Norwalk, and New Canaan. They also are spearheading the introduction of mandatory CPR and AED training as part of the high school curriculum for all students.

Mark and MaryGrace do not believe they acted heroically, but rather were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and were equipped with the right skills. When asked how they would define the word hero, Mark and MaryGrace responded that, “A hero is someone who risks their well-being to save a life or prevent a tragedy.”

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Meet Our 2016 Heroes - Connecticut

Water Safety Hero- Plainville Lifeguards

The lifeguards at Elizabeth Berner Pool in Norton Park in Plainville, Connecticut dedicate their time and energy to saving lives while maintaining stellar professionalism, earning them this year’s Water Safety Hero Award.

The lifeguards serve their community by providing a safe and family-friendly place to swim all year long. The group trains together once a week and are all Red Cross-certified, keeping up to date on yearly changes to CPR and AED procedures. This year, Steven Carter, a frequent patron of Berner Pool, witnessed the lifeguard team rescuing three swimmers over a five-week period. “The lifeguards are all young adults who take their job seriously," said Carter. "They do a fantastic job and should be recognized for the lives they’ve saved." The aquatic director of Berner Pool says parents can be assured their children are being protected by a professional and dedicated lifeguarding staff.

When asked to define a hero, the employees at Berner Pool stated, “a hero is an individual who is selfless, protective and caring of others while maintaining a safe and stable environment. A hero is a leader who sets examples for others to follow. At Berner Pool, we work as a team to maintain a safe facility, as well as having caring relationships with the patrons.”

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Meet Our 2016 Heroes - Connecticut

Workplace Hero- Bridgewater Associates

For their commitment to the community, and longstanding dedication to supporting the Red Cross, today we honor Bridgewater Associates, LP with the Workplace Hero Award.

Bridgewater Associates, based in Westport, Connecticut, manages approximately $146 billion* in global investments for a wide array of institutional clients, including foreign governments and central banks, corporate and public pension funds, university endowments and charitable foundations.

Founded in 1975 out of a two-bedroom apartment, Bridgewater Associates remains an independent, employee-run organization. Throughout its 40-year history, Bridgewater has been recognized as a top-performing manager and an industry innovator. Bridgewater's unique results are a product of its unique culture in which truth and excellence are valued above all else. Led by founder, Ray Dalio, Bridgewater has not only become an industry innovator, but also a leader in philanthropy.

In 2006, instead of giving the traditional “fruit basket” as a holiday gift, Ray Dalio instead offered clients the opportunity to donate to charity. The note he sent to clients said, “For this year's holiday gift to you, we at Bridgewater would like to donate to your favorite charity in your name … It's a great pleasure for us to help you help others who are less fortunate. Imagine how much more meaningful the holiday season would be if all the money that was spent on junk gifts (like the sweater from Aunt Millie) was redirected to help people who really need it.”

*AUM figures are estimated as of February 2016.