Award Winners 2014

  • massachusetts heroes


Dr. Michael R. Bourque


Dr. Michael R. Bourque

Dr. Bourque is a leading force behind the Blue Team – one of two teams that make up the international medical missions group at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, whose volunteers have supported life-changing and life-saving medical efforts in numerous countries without sufficient medical care resources.

Dr. Bourque, an obstetrician, has participated in medical missions in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. On his first medical mission in 2006, he lost a patient after saving her life and that of her baby just one day earlier. “I promised her death would mean something, so I began the journey that has continued up to the present day,” Bourque said. For eight years, Bourque has led the Blue Team, which has served more than 3,000 mostly surgical patients in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Most recently, Bourque has worked to create a sustainable medical presence in the remote town of Dame Marie in western Haiti. Bourque’s team makes week-long visits to the town several times a year to perform surgeries in the local hospital — the only surgeries that operating room sees all year. Now the organization is forming alliances with community and Haitian medical authorities and planning to create a more permanent presence in the coastal town of 40,000.

While women in the United States can deliver babies in a hospital with experienced doctors or midwives and “a small platoon of supporting personnel,” women in places like Dame Marie, face the possibility that either they or their child may suffer permanent physical damage or death as a result of giving birth, Bourque wrote in a 2012 article for the Catholic Transcript.

For his efforts to improve medical conditions in Dame Marie, Bourque was designated, last month, as a Daily Point of Light by a national foundation that recognizes outstanding feats of public service by private citizens. “It has actually become my life’s work,” he said in a recent interview. “It didn’t start out that way.”

Watch Dr. Bourque tell his story.


Jim Schepker

SVP Marketing

Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center

Susan B. Dunn

President and CEO United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut

Rosemary O’Neill, of New Canaan


Rosemary O’Neill, of New Canaan

Thirteen-year-old Rosemary O’Neill had just school one afternoon and sat down to do her homework when she heard her younger sister Molly call from the other room, “Rosie, the house is on fire!” When Rosemary checked and said she “found flames coming out of the wall.” When Molly went to a nearby closet to get a bucket, Rosemary went into action. “I said ‘no we need to get to the end of the driveway we need to get out of the house.’ I called the police from there.” Rosemary credits her mother and the Girl Scouts with the training she had that helped her react quickly.

Rosemary believes in the importance of being prepared for emergencies by having a plan and knowing what to do in dangerous situations. She learned this from her mother, Celia, teaching CPR classes and from her first aid study with the Girl Scouts. Rosemary knew from practice that the end of the driveway was her emergency meeting place.

While Molly’s fish did not survive the fire, all the family members and their dog and cat escaped. Celia O’Neill says, “I most definitely consider my daughter to be a hero. She has shown maturity beyond her years.”

Michael L. Solazzo


Michael L. Solazzo

Michael Solazzo, a student at the Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, has devoted significant time and energy to establishing a Red Cross Club at his school, along with coordinating CPR/First Aid training for his fellow students with the Red Cross and his school staff.

Working with staff from the Red Cross and the director of community service at Choate Rosemary Hall, Solazzo spent last summer preparing for the club’s launch in the fall. His goal is to use the club as a vehicle to get students interested in “volunteering and developing skills like CPR and AED training offered by the Red Cross.” Solazzo plans to organize an orientation on the American Red Cross for students at the school and is also planning to have a collection of toiletries to support the Totes of Hope program that provides personal care and comfort items to organizations that serve homeless veterans.

Solazzo is active in school and community service programs but says establishing this group takes his involvement to a new level. “It takes time to establish a club like this and I would like to spend the remainder of my time at Choate working to make sure the Red Cross Club at Choate becomes a permanent part of the community service effort at the school,” he said.

Solazzo is excited to be leading this effort. “I founded the Choate Red Cross Club because it is something that I am interested in, and something that I believe in.”

Watch Michael tell his story.


Richard Branigan

Chief Program Officer American Red Cross Connecticut & Rhode Island Region

Stefan Pryor

Commissioner Connecticut Department of Education

SPC Gregory Corvo


SPC Gregory Corvo

U.S. Army Specialist Gregory Corvo recently completed a four-year enlistment that included a one year deployment to Afghanistan and a deployment in Kuwait.

Corvo, of Cromwell, told a reporter from the Middletown Press that he joined the military because he had several relatives, including grandparents, who had been in military service. He also said he “felt very blessed and privileged” to have grown up in America, “and I felt I hadn’t sacrificed much.”

Corvo was in a convoy driving a transport vehicle, when it was struck by an improvised

explosive device (IED). The vehicle was heavily damaged and he sustained injury to his shoulders, rib cage and leg. He was also involved in a rescue of personnel from another IED attack that happened shortly after on another vehicle in their convoy. For his injuries sustained in battle, Corvo was awarded the Purple Heart.

Asked how he felt about being recognized by the Red Cross, Corvo said he was honored. He noted a past connection to the Red Cross when he received a Red Cross Message regarding a family health emergency and was able to be home within 24 hours.

Watch SPC Corvo tell his story.


Kent McClun

Area President Greater Connecticut Wells Fargo

Richard Blumenthal

United States Senator Connecticut

Sean M. Pesce, of West Haven


Army Specialist Sean M. Pesce, of West Haven

SPC Sean Pesce, a U.S. Ranger with the 275th Regiment, was serving in Afghanistan in October of 2012 when his unit was on a mission near Ghanzi and came under intense enemy fire.

Pesce and his comrade Seargeant Thomas MacPherson were working to secure a rooftop when they were attacked by machine gun fire from an adjacent building. SGT MacPherson was killed in action. PFC Pesce was hit multiple times and gravely wounded, but was still able to radio his unit for support with the location of the enemy.

Members of Pesce’s unit were able to move him out of harm’s way while their position was secured. He was evacuated by helicopter and received emergency surgery in-flight. Pesce’s injuries included severe damage to many of his major organs and resulted in him being paralyzed from the waist down.

Sean spent much of the next year undergoing multiple surgeries and rehabilitation. According to his nominator, Ronald Heckert, “Sean never let his injuries or his handicap effect his outlook.” Heckert notes that, although Pesce still faces “a long road, multiple surgeries and significant rehabilitation, he remains very positive and always has a smile on his face.”

Ronald R. Bentley, Jr.


New Canaan Police Officer Ronald R. Bentley, Jr.

On January 13, Officer Ronald Bentley was dispatched to a New Canaan home where a four-month -old baby boy was unresponsive. When Officer Bentley arrived, the baby appeared lifeless, had turned blue and had no pulse.

Bentley immediately opened the baby’s shirt and began a sternum rub. While continuing to perform CPR, he instructed the baby’s mother on how to ready the oxygen tank he had brought with him. Bentley began a course of CPR and back blows in an effort to help the child breathe.

Having a four-month-old son of his own, Bentley was determined to help the baby. He repositioned him and began applying back blows again. To everyone’s relief, the baby opened his eyes and vomited. The baby’s color started to return and he began crying. When medical responders arrived, Bentley carried the baby to the ambulance, where he received further care and was transported to the hospital. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The baby’s parents thank Bentley for his swift and caring response. After seeing the baby off in the ambulance, he returned to the family to make sure everyone was okay. He comforted the baby’s older sister by talking to her about his own children. He later visited the baby in the hospital.

Bentley said he had just recently been re-certified in CPR and use of an AED with an emphasis on birth deliveries in the field, as well as child and infant care. “Every household should have an AED,” Bentley says, adding, “CPR is definitely something that everyone should know. It does save lives.”

Christopher Brown, Lemon Coleman, & Antwana Tulley


Christopher Brown, Antwana Tulley, & Lemon Coleman

On December 18 of last year, fire swept through a multi-family home in Hartford. Two teens living in the home, along with a neighbor, were responsible for helping to get 17 people safely out of the house.

Antwana, aged 17, awoke to find her family’s first floor apartment in flames. Antwana acted quickly to wake her family. She then got all seven siblings out of the apartment through a window jumping out herself. She then raced to the front of the house and began banging on the door and ringing the doorbell to alert others. “I’d rather see myself die than see them die or get burned,” Tulley told a reporter from The Hartford Courant. “They come first.”

Upstairs, Christopher Brown, aged 16, was awakened by the sound of smoke alarms

sounding in the house. Christopher Brown (age 16) helped his sister escape the blaze and alerted neighbors on the third floor to the fire.

Christopher’s neighbor, Lemon Coleman, came to the scene and learned that Christopher’s partially paralyzed mother was still trapped on the second floor, hemmed in by heavy smoke. Coleman ran into the house, reached Rosemarie Gooden on the second floor and carried her down the stairs and safely out of the home.

Watch Christopher, Antwana, and Lemon tell their story.


Gregory Brown

SVP Commercial Operations The Hartford

Pedro Segarra

Mayor, City of Hartford

Daniel Tesfamihret


Daniel Tesfamihret

On December 10 of last year, Daniel woke up to crackling sounds in his apartment in New Britain and at first thought it was the sound of sleet against the windows. Upon opening his bedroom door, he found heavy smoke in the burning home. Daniel quickly grabbed his cell phone and ran up the stairs to alert the family of four on the second floor, a mother and three daughters, aged 12, seven and three years old.

Upstairs neighbor Latasha King said Daniel kicked in the outer locked door and banged on the inner door until the oldest daughter woke up. He helped the daughters out of the home, made sure everyone had escaped and called 911.

Latasha King had not taken anything out of the apartment so she did not have her car keys. Daniel put King and her three daughters in his car with a blanket to keep them warm.

King said that, amazingly, her neighbor is rarely home and that she had only seen him perhaps twice since she moved in. She noted that there were two locked doors and she was certain that if he had not been home that night, there would be a different ending to the story.

Watch Daniel tell his story.


Laurance A. Selnick

Senior Vice President Treasury & Payment Solutions Commercial Banking Webster Bank

Erin Stewart

Mayor, City of New Britain

Wilton Police Sergeant Thomas Tunney


Wilton Police Sergeant Thomas Tunney

On October 9, 2012, Sergeant Thomas Tunney willingly placed himself in grave danger when he responded to a car accident. The first responder on the scene, he found a vehicle off the road in thick brush, leaning driver’s side down against a tree and on fire.

Due to extensive front-end damage to the vehicle, the driver was trapped between the steering wheel and the dashboard and partially outside the vehicle. The vehicle’s engine and passenger compartments were fully engulfed in flames and thick smoke.

Sergeant Tunney called headquarters asking for additional help. Other officers arrived and tossed fire extinguishers down the embankment to Tunney. Sergeant Tunney worked to extinguish flames while attempting to free the victim from the burning vehicle. When he knocked the flames down, he tried to pull the victim out, but the driver was trapped. After three attempts, Tunney succeeded.

As Sergeant Tunney worked to remove the driver from the car, he placed himself in extreme danger and at risk for severe burns as the fire encroached on him. Sergeant Tunney sustained scorching to his hair, face and arms.

The firefighters soon arrived and were able to extinguish the fire. When the ambulance arrived, they administered first aid. The victim survived, but lost both legs below the knees. Tunney acknowledged the “incredible team” of first responders that helped him save the driver’s life.

Jared Thurston


Jared Thurston

Last July, 19 year-old lifeguard Jared Thurston was on duty at the Wallingford community pool, part of a team overseeing a busy afternoon with approximately 300 people in the water. He noticed two boys drifting into deep water and was about to

whistle them back to the shallow end when he noticed one boy was flailing. Once Thurston reached the boy, he was floating face down and not breathing. Thurston turned the boy over and said the boy’s eyes rolled back in his head. That is “one of those things you’re never going to forget,” Thurston told a reporter from New England Cable News.

Thurston acted quickly, pulling the boy from the water. Colleagues called 911 and helped get the ambulance through the gates to the pool. Two other guards, Rob Purcell and Tim Russo, “were right there to assist me in starting CPR because he had no pulse and he was not breathing,” Thurston said.

Thurston came to be a lifeguard because of his own experience nearly drowning when

he was a captain of his high school swim team. His teammates and lifeguards pulled him out and saved him. Thurston recalled that moment and his teammates calling him back to consciousness, so he talked to the boy, encouraging him to follow his voice and squeeze his hand.

The boy was successfully resuscitated and has recovered.

Watch Jared tell his story.


Elizabeth Bossidy-Tobin

Account Director Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield

Lisa A. Davis

Deputy Commissioner Connecticut Department of Public Health

West Haven Police Department


West Haven Police Department

Community Resource Officers Jason Aklin, Kim DeMayo and Jonathan Healey

Quick action by three West Haven Community Resource Officers last June saved a man drowning in Long Island Sound.

On a June evening when they patrolling the Savin Rock boardwalk, Officers Jonathan Healey, Jason Aklin and Kim DeMayo noticed a man on the beach. The man appeared agitated and soon ran into the water. Though it was dark out, moonlight provided enough illumination for the officers and others to see the man bobbing in the water. After a few minutes, the man disappeared from view. When he did not appear on shore, the officers knew they needed to take action.

Officer Healey removed his shoes, gun belt, shirt and bulletproof vest and entered the water. He waded out about 15 feet, finding the swimmer unresponsive in water that reached chest level on the six-foot-tall Healey. He worked to bring the man toward shore. Officers Aklin and DeMayo waded in to help Healey get the man out of the water and onto the beach.

Officer Healey began CPR on the victim. Officers Aklin and DeMayo assisted, helping to roll the man over to prevent choking as water poured from his mouth. Calling the response “a team effort,” Officer Aklin said all three officers simply followed instinct. He also mentioned help from a nurse who had been having dinner nearby and who rushed to the scene to assist. Emergency medical responders soon arrived and were able to successfully revive the victim and transport him to a hospital.

Officer Tracy Dunne & Lt. Ewan Sheriff


Officer Tracy Dunne & Lt. Ewan Sheriff

Two off-duty emergency responders, Simsbury Police Officer Tracy Dunne and Hartford Fire Department Lieutenant Ewan Sheriff, helped save the life of a man in cardiac arrest at Airways Golf Course in West Suffield.

Sheriff and his friend, Hartford Fire Department Lieutenant Lionel Thompson, had just finished a round of golf and were putting their clubs in their car when they heard someone shouting from the course that a man had collapsed. They got back in their cart and went to the scene, where a man was in cardiac arrest.

Dunne was already at the scene and had begun chest compressions. Sheriff assisted with

CPR and performed rescue breaths on the victim. A golf course attendant was summoned with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to shock the victim’s heart.

The team continued to work with the victim until emergency personnel arrived and transported him to the hospital.

The victim’s wife wrote to the team soon after to say her husband was recovering after open heart surgery and doing well. She further wrote that her husband told her after his surgery “that he had a dream three days before the heart attack and that two firemen saved his life.”

Watch Officer Dunne and Lt. Sheriff tell their story.


Mary Glassman

First Selectman, Town of Simsbury

Ryan Cook


Ryan Cook

Last August, Ryan Cook, a security guard at ESPN, was spending time in a local park when a woman approached him and struck up a conversation about his ESPN t-shirt. Finding out he worked there, the woman and her grandson began asking questions about ESPN and the famous people Ryan had probably met. The young boy was eating a sandwich during the conversation and began to choke. Ryan recalled his CPR and first aid training and immediately went into action, giving the boy a combination of back blows and abdominal thrusts to dislodge the food successfully.

It wasn’t the first time Ryan has gone out of his way to help another, said his nominator. During the February 2013 blizzard, Ryan came upon a motorist stranded in the snow. When he had gotten stuck, he got out of the vehicle and accidentally locked the doors, leaving his cell phone inside and the engine running. He had been out in the cold with no gloves for more than an hour. Ryan offered help and, using a punch tool, broke a small side window allowing the driver access to his car. Ryan then helped shovel him out and gave the man his shovel in case he needed it again on the trip home.

Ryan is an active volunteer, devoting time to the American Red Cross, the Town of Prospect Citizen Emergency Response Team and the State of Connecticut Incident Management Team. His training and volunteer service equipped Ryan to be in the right place at the right time. “There truly is no greater reward than knowing you helped someone,” Ryan said.

Watch Ryan tell his story.


Mario Bruno

Chief Executive Officer American Red Cross Connecticut & Rhode Island Region

William H. Austin

Homeland Security Coordinator Capitol Region Council of Governments

The Daughters of Charity, Bridgeport


The Daughters of Charity, Bridgeport

For more than 100 years, the Daughters of Charity have cared for generations through their leadership and dedicated work at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. They are a multi-faith tradition, which shares what they have in common, rather than their differences in faith.

The Daughters of Charity were called to Bridgeport in 1903 by a local parish priest who asked their help in caring for the sick and poor who were flocking to a growing industrial city at the turn of the twentieth century. In the spirit of heroes, they answered the call for help and accepted the mission of operating the newly established St. Vincent’s Hospital.

The Daughters of Charity have remained devoted to their mission to serve the poor, resisting calls in the 1970s to move the hospital to the suburbs and, instead, building a new structure at the original city location. The Daughters of Charity have expanded their mission, creating a school of nursing in 1905 and allied health and residency programs, which today have grown into expanded programs at St. Vincent’s College and physician residency programs at the Medical Center.

The Daughters of Charity, who responded as a group to word of their selection for this award, said “Our Sisters before us, and we who serve now, have always been committed to being that safety net for those most in need.”

Animal Hero Atticus


Atticus, of Madison

Atticus is a diabetic alert dog that helps monitor the glucose levels of his companion, Erik Lazor in Madison. Atticus is able to perform his task because of the powerful sense of smell dogs possess. While humans smell odor elements in parts per million and dogs smell in parts per trillion. Atticus is able to detect chemical changes in Erik’s body 45 minutes before a monitor.

Erik previously had a continuous glucose monitor inserted into his lower back, but activities such as basketball and horseback riding weren’t easy. “It was a huge needle and I have four brothers,” says Erik. “We’re always horsing around, so it got knocked around and it hurts a lot, so we were looking for an alternative.”

Atticus is Erik’s best friend. They go everywhere together. When Atticus gives Erik a paw, his blood sugar is high. When his blood sugar is low, he gives him a nose. Atticus has saved Erik multiple times when his level has dropped below 38. Atticus will someday be trained to press a button to call 911 if Erik is in trouble.

Because of Atticus, Erik was able to attend his first parent-free campout with the Boy Scouts. Erik has been home-schooled for the past eight years. For the first time this fall however, he will be able to attend public high school in the fall.

Fidelco Guide Dog Izaac


Fidelco Guide Dog Izaac

Izaac is a guide dog trained by the Fidelco Foundation of Bloomfield. He is partnered with Bill DeMaio, director of parks and recreation for the city of New Britain.

DeMaio, who has a demanding and wide-ranging job that includes managing 70 full-time and 400 part-time employees in seven divisions, including Veterans Affairs, Parks, Recreation, Golf and Cemeteries. DeMaio has Retinitis Pigmentosa, which has resulted in the gradual loss of his vision. He resisted use of a cane or guide dog, believing it would label him as “blind and dependent.” He has coped ably, succeeding in his career, but it took a toll on his life, affecting his ability to socialize

and experience new things. As DeMaio’s eyesight continued to degenerate he had what he describes as his “ah-ha moment,” when, while walking, he collided with an approaching jogger he never even saw.

That was when DeMaio seriously investigated getting a guide dog. Soon after, Izaac, Bill’s Fidelco Guide Dog, came into his life. Izaac has helped Bill, a former athlete and avid walker, maintain his mobility and keep up with the demands of his busy lifestyle. “Now I walk with speed and confidence,” Bill explains. “I’m not afraid anymore to go anywhere. It’s been so good to be able to go outside you can’t put a price on freedom and independence.” Bill says Izaac helps him feel like part of the world again. “Getting Izaac opened up the world of people that I had gradually distanced myself from. Izaac is a social magnet, people flock to him and me by association— freeing me from that old isolation due to my blindness.”

DeMaio says his new found confidence has given him a new mission. “Now I’m outgoing enough to even plan an upcoming speaking engagement to a group of fifth graders in Massachusetts. It’s part of my quest to be a goodwill ambassador for guide dogs and Fidelco. I even have a mantra— ‘Changing what it means to be blind’.”

Watch Bill tell his story.


Peter Clarke

SVP Emergency Preparedness Northeast Utilities

Alex Palluzzi

President Connecticut Recreation & Parks Association

Centralized Transportation Unit & Willimantic Juvenile Court


Centralized Transportation Unit & Willimantic Juvenile Court

In November 2012, a group of judicial marshals worked together to collect relief supplies and deliver them to communities in New York devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

Marshal Ryan Labieniec, hoped to gather some supplies to deliver in his pickup truck but soon realized he could do more if he had the capacity. He approached O’Donovan Murphy, director of judicial services, who immediately agreed to Labieniec’s proposal to use a larger prisoner transport vehicle to move supplies.

Labieniec then approached his staff and colleagues across the state. Marshals Jon Bullock, Holly Cruz and Karen Dobson quickly joined the effort, as did Chief Larry Callahan, who facilitated a collection at the marshals’ lockup facility in Hartford.

Collections quickly grew. The team got discounted prices from area businesses to purchase additional supplies with donated funds. By November 10, the team was ready to deliver the items to a community in need. The team, now including Marshals Dan Gannon and Sylveri Gonzalez, started in Willimantic with a convoy of three trucks, stopping in Hartford and New Haven to gather more donations and made their way to New York.

Arriving in Breezy Point in New York, the marshals worked with the NYPD 100th precinct to reach two schools serving as distribution points. The items were distributed immediately to families in need.

Labieniec said the final 15-hour day was exhausting, but “well worth the effort,” a sentiment echoed by many of his colleagues. Labieniec praised his team for their professionalism, compassion and calm in a hectic disaster scene. He noted the Marshals shared their meals with the students helping to unload trucks. The group agrees they were honored to help and would readily do the same thing again if needed.

Watch Marshal Ryan Labieniec tell his story.


Peter Clarke

SVP Emergency Preparedness, Northeast Utilities

Bruce Lockwood

President International Association of Emergency Managers

The Community of Newtown


The Community of Newtown

Newtown First Selectman Patricia Llodra has been involved in her community for over 40 years a teacher, engaged parent, community volunteer and elected official. In many ways, she symbolizes the kind of commitment required to make a small community viable. Since her election in 2010, Llodra and her community faced and conquered many challenges, including tornadoes, a small earthquake, flooding and a massive snowstorm. In each of these emergencies, Llodra worked with her community to help them weather the storms. She always reminded people to check on their neighbors, helping to ensure the safety of the community. But nothing could have prepared them for the events of December 14, 2012, at the Sandy Hook School.

While Llodra has been the public face of the community for much of the world and received much-deserved praise for her response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook, she reminds people that the response and recovery that continue in Newtown are the work of many people and organizations.

“I’m very much a part of a team,” Llodra said, recognizing her two colleagues on the Board of Selectmen, William Rodgers and James Gaston, Sr. In addition, there are community members who joined forces to cope with the influx of donations; volunteers who staffed telephone hotlines; town employees who stepped forward to support logistical arrangements for people, supplies and donations; the leaders of the faith community who provided spiritual support and mobilized their congregations to help; and the numerous nonprofit organizations and government entities that swung into action to help bring comfort and hope to a hard-hit community.

“No one person can achieve the kinds of things we've had to achieve,” Selectman Llodra said. The larger community that stepped forward to support victims’ families and each other is a powerful example of resilience that has inspired the world.

Dr. Jeffrey Meter


Dr. Jeffrey Meter

Jeffrey J. Meter, MD, an Orthopedic Surgeon at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, traveled to Kenya last summer on a medical mission to teach general and orthopedic surgery and perform four to 12 surgeries daily along with 100

outpatient visits at Tenwek Hospital, a 260-bed facility, in the city of Bomet. Tenwek is a teaching hospital with an intern training program and residency programs in family medicine and general surgery.

In a recent interview on Fox CT, Dr. Meter said that the teaching function of the trip is

especially important, noting that “When we go there on our own and just perform surgeries and don’t train, then we leave complications and issues that the people there can’t manage.” Dr. Meter said he believes in the adage, “It’s better to teach a man to fish.” Kenya, with a population of 41 million, has just 50 orthopedic surgeons.

On this most recent trip, Dr. Meter took a very personal lifesaving step when he donated blood to save the life of a local resident. During a church service, the pastor announced that someone urgently needed a type O+ blood transfusion – a blood type that matched Dr. Meter’s. According to Dr. Meter, the man needed an endoscopy but his blood count was too low. After receiving the blood transfusion from Dr. Meter, he was able to have the endoscopy. The next day he sat up, very thankful, and said, “Yesterday I could only see darkness, today I see the light.”

Dr. Meter, of Avon, is a member of Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Assistance Response Team and has served as battalion surgeon with the 10th Special Forces Group. Over the next two years, Dr. Meter plans to return to Tenwek to assist in the development of the hospital’s orthopedic residency program.

Watch Dr. Meter tell his story.


Jim Schepker

SVP Marketing Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center

Jeff Meyer

Chief Executive Officer American Red Cross Massachusetts and Connecticut Blood Regions

Dr. Jeffrey Meter


Kathleen Russotto

Kathleen Russotto, Manager of Sports World in South Windsor, was at the facility on July 1 of last year when she learned through an alert on her phone that a tornado was in the area. The Funtime summer camp program was in progress that day.

Kathleen rushed to the domed facility at Sports World where 29 campers and five staff were located. She told Fox CT news that she “whistled for the kids,” gathered them and moved them quickly to an adjacent building where she instructed them to hide under tables. Speed was critical as the storm was approaching. “There was a little five-year-old. I had a counselor pick him up because I could see the dome starting to move, which is very uncommon,” Russotto told Fox CT.

Within moments, the tornado swept over the area, destroying the dome. According to news reports, pieces of the dome were scattered across nearby Interstate 91. None of the children or staff at the Sports World facility were injured.

Sports World co-owner Kate Muratore called Russotto a hero for keeping everyone safe. Russotto said she was only doing what she was supposed to. On July 2, the day after the storm, many of the campers returned along with their parents, who brought a cake to thank Russotto for her quick actions to keep their children safe. Parent Davina Dax-Rabb told NBC Connecticut news that she was “very comfortable” sending her children back to the camp in the aftermath of the storm.

Watch Kathleen tell her story.


Kent McClun

Area President, Greater Connecticut Wells Fargo

William Shea

Deputy Commissioner, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection

Sikorsky Medical Assistance Team Members, Stratford


Sikorsky Medical Assistance Team Members, Stratford

Last November, in the cafeteria at Sikorsky aircraft, an employee suffered a cardiac arrest while in line. Co-worker Ide Ehigiato caught him before he hit the floor. She shouted for someone to call 911 and immediately began performing CPR .

Alerted to the emergency, members of the Sikorsky Medical Assistance Team (MAT) arrived on the scene. Team members Sarah Zayas until Jude Ade took over administering CPR.

The patient was not breathing, had no pulse and was grey in color. A MAT member attached the employee to an AED, but he did not have a shockable rhythm. CPR was administered again.

After 33 additional compressions, the patient’s heart began beating and he was breathing. Site medical personnel continued care by starting an IV while EMTs arrived to transport the employee to the hospital. When he left, he was alert and orientated. He underwent treatments at the hospital and was home in time to spend the holidays with his family.

In addition to saying they would help again if the situation called for it, the Sikorsky employees interviewed about this incident all noted the importance of American Red Cross CPR certification. The Red Cross training and review provides the foundational knowledge for quick action to save lives.

Jeff Meier, of Norwalk


Jeff Meier, of Norwalk

Jeff Meier has found a way to blend his community service activities and his pastimes by supporting Red Cross blood drives.

Meier, a member of the Norwalk Exchange Club, a community service organization, was looking for a project in which the entire club could be involved. His wife had the idea of running blood drives. Jeff now runs a blood drive for the Norwalk Exchange club every 90 days. He has been doing this for the past eight years. He has also recruits donors from the Sprite Island Yacht Club, where he is a member.

The drives have become a significant source of lifesaving blood for the Red Cross. The blood drives have gained great community interest, producing up to 63 units in one day. Drives that Meier has arranged have produced 150 gallons to date. Meier reaches out to everyone he knows to donate. This has led to the start of many friendships.

Jeff Meier believes blood donation is one of the most important ways to give back to the community. “It is a great feeling, doing this for the community,” he said. Meier has also taken a leadership role on some national blood drive issues. His daughter has even taken an interest, and is now a regular volunteer behind the registration desk at his drives and runs blood drives at her high school.