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Award Winners 2015

  • massachusetts heroes
Lauren McCutcheon

Educator Hero

Lauren McCutcheon

Spend a few minutes with fourth grade teacher Lauren McCutcheon and you can’t help but notice her energy and enthusiasm, particularly when it comes to teaching and working with the students of McCormick Elementary School in the Moon Area School District.

Lauren has been teaching for just six years, but she has a perspective on education that is far beyond her years.

Lauren believes that children can do anything and she is continually proving that belief with the students at McCormick Elementary. Since joining the staff at McCormick Elementary, Lauren has willingly accepted the roles of Student Council sponsor, Study Island facilitator and serves as an academic coach for learning and literacy. She also meets and greets the entire student body every morning. This is in addition to her regular duties as a fourth grade teacher.

One of the projects of which she is most proud is the School Store where students can purchase items. The store is entirely student-run and has been a successful fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She also has organized fundraisers such as “Quarter Wars”, “Pink Out Day”, and “Green Out Day.” Last year, she helped the students participate in the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to raise money and awareness of ALS. Her latest endeavor is “Pennies for Patients”, in which students donate coins for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

In the words of Dr. Julie Moore, principal of McCormick Elementary, “Lauren is a dedicated, motivated, caring educator...she teaches, coaches, volunteers and tutors.”

Lauren has certainly accomplished a great deal in six years and, by all indications, will continue to be an inspiring “Educator Hero” in the years to come.

Watch Lauren tell her story.

Award presented by Dean Kenyon R. Bonner, Vice Provost and Dean of Students, University of Pittsburgh

Thomas Cook

Firefighter Hero

Thomas Cook

On April 20, 2015, Assistant Chief Thomas Cook, a veteran firefighter with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire, was heading home after working late in the office. As he wound his way through the South Hills, a dispatch came across the radio: a structure fire with entrapment. The location was on his way, so he drove to the address on Rockland Avenue in the City of Pittsburgh.

Arriving at the same time as the first alarm fire companies, he noticed a woman hanging from a first floor window about eight feet off the ground. He donned his fire gear and approached the window.

Smoke was billowing from the window and the woman could not go back into the room to escape the fire. Assistant Chief Cook climbed up onto the window, but the smoke was too intense. He climbed down and told the woman to lean forward and put her hands on his shoulders. She did so and he gently lowered her to the ground.

Once on the ground, she told him that her daughter was still in the house. Assistant Chief Cook immediately told the responding firefighters to search the burning house for the daughter. They entered the home and rescued her.

There is no question that Assistant Chief Cook displayed the heart of a hero when he rescued the woman from the burning house. Already on his way home, he could have kept driving, but he chose to go to the scene of the fire. He could have directed one of the responding firefighters to rescue the woman from the window, but he chose to find a way to get her out of the window.

Assistant Chief Cook doesn’t believe he did anything special, but was just doing a job. He placed himself in danger to save a woman and her daughter from what could have been a tragedy. For that, he is being recognized as a hero and deservedly so.

Watch Asst. Chief Cook tell his story.

Award presented by Dave Volk, Regional Manager, First Responder Market, MSA

Tim Vlahos

Good Samaritan Hero

Tim Vlahos

Alcoma on the Green Apartments Maintenance Supervisor Tim Vlahos was answering a call to the complex in Penn Hills on February 5, 2015. As he entered one of the buildings, he smelled smoke and noticed the fire alarm panel was signaling a fire in the building. He headed to the fourth floor and, as he entered the floor from the stairwell, he could see smoke coming from Apt. 410.

He banged on the door and called out to the apartment resident. He recalled that she was elderly and lived alone. When he received no response, he used his master key to unlock the door. The apartment was filled with smoke, but he could see what appeared to be the resident sitting on a sofa in the living room. He called out to her but she couldn’t respond. She suddenly fell to the floor. Tim crawled beneath the smoke to her. She was nearly unconscious and could not get up. If he left to get help, she might be overcome by the thick smoke before he returned. He had to act fast. He couldn’t lift her, so he grabbed her ankles and pulled her towards the door.

Outside the apartment, the resident started to come around. Tim helped her into the stairwell to get away from the smoke. He sat with her for a minute. Tim knew she had family who visited her from time to time and he became concerned that a family member might still be in the apartment. He went back into the billowing smoke in the apartment, but could not find anyone else. Returning to the stairwell, he comforted the resident until the firefighters and paramedics arrived shortly after.

Because of the building construction, the fire in Apt. 410 did not spread to other apartments and the remaining residents were safe. The resident of Apt. 410 was taken to the hospital. Thanks to Tim’s bravery, she survived the fire.

Watch Tim tell his story.

Award presented by Angela Reynolds, Director of 2-1-1 and Helping Families Thrive, United Way of Allegheny County

Debra Sines

Lifetime Commitment to the Red Cross:

Debra Sines

Despite being a full-time nurse practitioner at Magee Womens Hospital of UPMC, Debra Sines always finds time to assist those in need, even when she's not "on-call" with Red Cross Health Services. Debra has spent the last sixteen years as a Red Cross Health Services volunteer, offering her time and expertise to help local disaster victims with their health-related needs.

As a Team Leader of the Health Services volunteers, Debra teaches the Health Services Response Workshop, is "on-call" to provide Health Services support for disaster responders, offers advice to staff and volunteers for health-related issues, and assists the disaster-related health care needs of victims. This involves coordinating the replacement of victims' prescriptions and medical equipment with pharmacists, physicians, insurance companies and the Red Cross.

"I always wanted to be a Red Cross nurse, so when I was laid-off from my job in 1994 I used that as an opportunity to get involved," she said.

Debra responds to about eight disasters a month, usually spending over two hours on each case. While she typically coordinates the replacement of prescriptions and medical supplies lost by victims, Debra will volunteer to assist victims of large-scale disasters, as well. When heavy snows devastated the region in February, Debra volunteered at a local Red Cross shelter where she handed out food, offered emotional support, and helped find shelter residents a place to stay after the shelter closed.

An experience she will always remember, Debra led a disaster health services team to provide 24-hour support to 20 family members of a Flight 93 passenger when they attended a memorial service at Shanksville a week after Sept. 11, 2001. Her experience as a nurse proved priceless, for many of the family members had “special and unique needs" as she recalls.

In regards to her experiences with the Red Cross, Debra said, "It's been a memorable 15-plus years.”

Watch Debra’s story.

Award presented by Erica Snyder, Chief Executive Officer, Hunter Associates, Inc.

Timothy M. Campbell, M.D.

Medical Professional Hero

Timothy M. Campbell, M.D.

I believe a person needs to be proactive in seeking service opportunities; it is by giving back that we often find ourselves.

Dr. Timothy Campbell, an internal medicine physician, included this comment in his personal mission statement. It is clear from his achievements that he has devoted his life to serving others and is truly living his mission statement.

A life-long resident of Bethel Park, Dr. Campbell graduated from Bethel Park High School and West Virginia University where he received his undergraduate and medical degrees. He served an internship and medical residency and established his medical practice at the Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Campbell holds appointments as a member of the medical staff at UPMC Mercy as well as appointments as a member of the teaching faculties of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at UPMC Mercy and the Family Nurse Practitioner Program at Duquesne University School of Nursing. He is also Medical Director and Founding Member of the Light of Life Mission Medical Clinic and Medical Director of Family Hospice & Palliative Care.

His enthusiasm for active service to his fellowman has resulted in his participation in various humanitarian service trips. He has gone to Guatemala for the past 11 years as the physician working with Christian Medical Missions, Inc., for week-long service trips, and has served as a volunteer alongside Navy

personnel aboard the USNS Mercy for three weeks in 2013 in the Philippines and aboard the USNS Comfort for six months from April to September 2015 for their "Continuing Promise" mission. He has served on the Bethel Park School District Board and has been a member of various community relief teams, such as DMAT and HAZMAT. Dr. Campbell is a Red Cross volunteer and holds a private pilot license as well as an advanced rescue scuba license.

Dr. Campbell is married and has six children and three grandchildren. He is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Truly an accomplished individual, Dr. Campbell’s humanitarian service is an outstanding example of the spirit of the Medical Professional Hero Award.

Watch Dr. Campbell tell his story.

Award presented by Donald Jansen, M.D., Director of the Care Management Department, UPMC Mercy

Ken Haynes

Military Hero

Ken Haynes

When you say military hero, the first image that comes to mind might be a solider in combat rescuing a fellow solider from enemy fire. Heroism came to Ken Haynes long after his military service ended.

A Navy veteran and a Housing Specialist with the Veterans Leadership Program (VLP) of Pittsburgh, Ken’s heroism comes from working day in and day out to serve his fellow veterans.

Many vets who seek help from the VLP are having financial difficulties and some are homeless. With a quiet confidence and reassurance, Ken helps these vets turn their lives around.

Ken has learned that a lack of budgeting skills is at the root of many of his clients’ problems. Without these vital skills, bills pile up, kids go hungry and families are left homeless. VLP can provide financial help, but Ken knows that, without a budget and a plan, some will fall back into their former state. To help vets develop budgeting skills, he arranged for Advantage Credit Counseling to hold monthly classes at VLP to teach vets financial literacy skills. He also convinced the United Way of Allegheny County to offer a free tax clinic at the VLP offices twice a week between January and April.

Often, in the course of working with vets who come to the VLP, Ken learns of other problems they are facing. After exploring several solutions for a Vietnam vet who came to VLP for help, Ken found out that the gas utility in his residence had been shut off and the man had been cooking his meals on an outdoor barbeque grill. Ken intervened with the utility company and the gas was turned back on. It was a small matter, but it made a big difference in the vet’s quality of life.

No challenge is too small or too large for Ken. His goal is to see that veterans receive the help they need and deserve to get their lives on track. Sometimes our heroes are found, not on battlefields, but working quietly in offices helping those in need.

Watch Ken tell his story.

Award presented by Mark Lepore, Ed.D., MSW, Asst. Prof., Allied Health, Human Services, Rehabilitation, Clarion University

Ryan D. Wooten

Professional Responder Hero

Ryan D. Wooten

Professional responders, be they police officers, firefighters or paramedics, are trained to react quickly and calmly to events that would make the ordinary person turn away. It was just that kind of event on Thursday morning, Dec. 4, 2014, when Rankin Borough Chief of Police Ryan D. Wooten was called to a two-vehicle accident on the icy Rankin Bridge.

A car carrying a family, including three-year-old Sonya Martin in the back seat, slid on an icy patch while driving across the bridge and careened into another car. The car was badly damaged. As he exited his police cruiser, Chief Wooten saw Sonya’s father standing outside the wrecked family car, holding her limp body. The Chief, trained by the Red Cross in CPR, immediately recognized that she was not breathing. He took Sonya from her father, placed her gently on the hood of his police car and began performing CPR. She responded and paramedics arrived shortly and took over resuscitation efforts.

Her injuries were severe and she was taken to Children’s Hospital where her parents learned the heart-breaking diagnosis that she was paralyzed from the neck down.

Witnesses on the bridge that morning credit Chief Wooten with saving little Sonya’s life. She certainly would not have survived if he had not performed CPR. While she has recovered from the injuries she received in the accident, her family is facing mounting expenses for her care.

As if the extraordinary feat of saving her life was not enough, Chief Wooten has since organized several fundraisers to help pay for Sonya’s care. The community has responded with kind hearts and open wallets.

Watch Chief Wooten tell his story.

Award presented by Jim Garraux, Chairman, Board of Directors, American Red Cross of Southwestern Pennsylvania

Renno Young

Youth Hero

Renno Young

Courage doesn’t have age limitations and that was proven on Oct. 7, 2014 by Renno Young, then an 18-year-old student at Bethel Park Senior High School. He was driving down his street that morning and noticed smoke coming from a neighbor’s garage. The door was partially open. He stopped his car, ran up to door and saw his elderly neighbor standing behind the door. He heard an explosion inside. He grabbed the garage door and yanked it open.

Mrs. Kelly, his neighbor, was standing in the garage. She was having great difficulty breathing and couldn’t walk so Renno carried her out of the garage and down the driveway, a safe distance from the burning home. She wearing what was left of a nasal cannula, which is used to inhale oxygen from an oxygen tank. The rest of the cannula had been burned away.

As he comforted her in the driveway, he heard several more explosions coming from the house. He noticed 10 to 15 oxygen tanks in the garage so he re-entered the burning home and carried the tanks outside to prevent them from exploding.

Police, fire and paramedics arrived shortly after and took command of the scene. Seeing what Renno had done, they hailed him as a hero who not only saved Mrs. Kelly’s life that day, but prevented further damage and possible injury to the responders by removing the unexploded oxygen tanks from the home.

Renno displayed exceptional bravery and stayed calm, cool and collected throughout the experience. When asked about it he said, “I don’t think it was anything really heroic.”

Watch Renno tell his story.

Award presented by Anna Drenning, Regional Youth Volunteer Specialist, American Red Cross of Western Pennsylvania

Glenn M. Cannon, Esq.

Community Leadership Award

Glenn M. Cannon, Esq.

Director Cannon began his public services career in 1975 when he was hired by Pittsburgh Mayor Pete Flaherty to plan, implement and operate a city-wide mobile intensive care/advanced life support ambulance system. He is the founder and first Director of the Pittsburgh Paramedic Rescue

Program. From 1977 to 1986, he headed the City’s newly created Emergency Medical Services Department. He established the City’s first River Rescue Unit, first Specialized Rescue Units and the City’s first Hazardous Materials Response Team.

In 1986, Mr. Cannon was named by Mayor Richard Caliguiri as Director of the Public Safety Department for the City of Pittsburgh. He also served as the City’s Emergency Management Coordinator.

In October 1996, Mr. Cannon was appointed as Allegheny County’s first ever Manager/Chief Operating Officer. He also served as the County’s Emergency Management Director, Safety Services Director and Executive Director of the four Regional Kane Centers.

Prior to joining the County, he was the State Fire Marshal for the State of Florida. Before that, he served three years as the Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

Mr. Cannon went to FEMA in June of 2006 to become part of a small group of highly trained and experienced emergency management leaders, brought on in the wake of “Katrina”, to build a “new” FEMA. He served as an Assistant Administrator in the Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency, where he was in charge of Disaster Operations for the United States and its territories in response to Presidential disasters, emergency declarations and other incidents of National Significance for the nation.

In January 2011, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett appointed him as Director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. PEMA coordinates all state agency response to support county and local governments in the areas of civil defense, disaster preparedness, planning, response to and recovery from man-made or natural disasters.

Mr. Cannon is presently serving as the Interim Co-Director of the Center for Disaster Management in the Graduate School of Public and Urban Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh and teaches as a Visiting Senior Lecturer. He is also a management consultant to the Allegheny County Department of Emergency Services.

Mr. Cannon graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education, holds a Master’s Degree in Public Management from Carnegie Mellon University and a law degree from Duquesne University. In 2010, he received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from IUP.

In December 1999, Pittsburgh Magazine named him one of the Top 100 Pittsburghers of the Century.

Watch Glenn tell his story.

Award presented by Grant Wilson, Senior Volunteer Partner, American Red Cross of Western Pennsylvania