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American Red Cross Celebrates Mohawk Valley's Real Heroes

American Red Cross Celebrates Mohawk Valley's Real Heroes
We love this event because we can honor great people who do great things for others, right here at home.

The American Red Cross honored several Mohawk Valley residents for their heroic actions during the past year at the 14th annual Real Heroes Breakfast on June 4 at the Radisson Hotel-Utica Centre in Utica.

Hosted by the Mohawk Valley Chapter, the Real Heroes Breakfast celebrated the Red Cross mission of alleviating human suffering by honoring people from throughout Oneida, Herkimer and Otsego counties who performed heroic acts to help others in need.

More than 300 people attended the event to honor an impressive group of heroes that included Oneida County Water Rescue members who aided victims of Superstorm Sandy, the 911 dispatch team that worked on the frantic day of the Herkimer shootings, and a 9-year-old boy who ran through snow for help when his house was on fire.

“We love this event because we can honor great people who do great things for others, right here at home,” Jennifer Balog, Community Chapter Executive for the Mohawk Valley Chapter, told the crowd during the breakfast. “And with the help of you, our ticket buyers and sponsors, we can celebrate their bravery in a public setting. And rest assured that with your support, funds will be available throughout the year for the Red Cross to provide emergency services to people who have lost everything.”

The major sponsors of the Mohawk Valley Chapter Real Heroes Breakfast were Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Carbone Auto Group. The Real Hero award sponsors were: GPO Federal Credit Union, International Wire, National Grid, NBT Bank, New York Central Mutual Insurance, NYSTEC, Remington and Rome Strip Steel. Media sponsorship was provided by the Utica Observer-Dispatch and WKTV News Channel 2.

WKTV produced the videos of the heroes that were shown during the event, and WKTV Station Manager and News Director Steve McMurray served as the MC.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr., and his wife, Eleanor, were the honorary chairs of the Real Heroes Breakfast. Jill Schrader, of Ilion, shared an inspiring story about her son, Will, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at nine months old. Will’s treatment involved receiving blood from the American Red Cross, and Jill said Will is doing well and excited about his beloved Boston Bruins in the hockey playoffs.

Proceeds from the Real Heroes Breakfast benefit the Mohawk Valley Chapter. From July through April, the Mohawk Valley Chapter provided nearly $70,000 to 349 people from 130 families who were affected by disasters; provided 95 emergency communications and more than $4,400 in financial assistance to members of the Armed Forces and their families; and trained thousands of individuals in CPR, First Aid and other health and safety courses.

Here’s the list of awards and honorees:

  • Michael Cianfrocco Family Humanitarian of the Year Award (presented by the Carbone family): Symeon Tsoupelis. The owner of Symeon’s Restaurant in Yorkville, Tsoupelis has donated his time, food and money to various humanitarian organizations, including the Regional Cancer Center at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare, United Way, and American Red Cross.
  • Adult Good Samaritan Award: David Kalk. Kalk was driving in the Village of Camden in December when he saw a house on fire. He called 911 – the dispatcher who answered the call was his mother – and then helped a woman and her 9-month-old child escape the burning home.
  • Animal Rescue Award: Gary Johnson and Lauren McEntire. Johnson and McEntire, of Sylvan Beach, are known for rescuing stray and abandoned animals and the engaged couple has started their own animal rescue organization.
  • Blood Donor Award: William Sadlon. Sadlon, of Little Falls, has in his lifetime donated 208 units of blood, or about 26 gallons, which is enough to save more than 630 lives.
  • Mary Haggerty Education Award: Debbie Nutty. Nutty, of Whitesboro, is a cancer survivor who returned this past November for her 17th year as a kindergarten teacher at Deerfield Elementary School.
  • Fire Rescue Award: Oneida County Water Rescue. When Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast this past October, several members of the Water Rescue team answered the statewide call for mutual aid to New York City and Long Island to evacuate and rescue residents.
  • Good Neighbor Award: Scott Beach. On Christmas Eve, Beach was on his way to work when he observed flames coming from a house in Herkimer. Beach, of Herkimer, banged on the front door, warning a family with three children who were unaware their home was on fire.
  • Kurt Wyman Law Enforcement Award: New York State Police Trooper Mark Hale and Oneida County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Taylor. Last June, Hale, of Lee Center, and Taylor, of New York Mills, rescued a man whose house in Rome was set on fire by an arsonist.
  • Military Award: Master Sgt. James Mauthe. A member of the New York Air National Guard who works at the Eastern Air Defense Sector in Rome and a volunteer firefighter in the Village of Clinton, Master Sgt. Mauthe plays a vital role in the homeland defense of our country and saves lives as a first responder to emergency calls.
  • Youth Good Samaritan Award: Jesse Richard. This past January, when his house was on fire in Herkimer and his parents asked him to get help, 9-year-old Jesse ran through the dark and snow and flagged down a snow plow driver who called 911.