The American Red Cross honored eight heroes and presented a Community Leadership Award at the Seventh Annual Red Cross Heroes Breakfast on Thursday, Sept. 24, from 7:30 to 9 a.m., at the Rivertowne Brewing Hall of Fame Club at PNC Park on the North Shore.
WPXI-TV sportscaster Bill Phillips served as the emcee. In addition to honoring this year’s heroes, the Red Cross presented Glenn M. Cannon, Esq., with a Community Leadership Award.
The event, a fundraiser for the American Red Cross of Southwestern Pennsylvania, is designed to honor everyday heroes in eight categories and to recognize an outstanding community leader. The heroes were selected by an independent panel of media representatives from nominations received from the public. The 2015 heroes include:
1. Educator Hero: Lauren McCutcheon, Moon Area School District
2. Firefighter Hero: Asst. Chief Thomas Cook, Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire
3. Good Samaritan Hero: Tim Vlahos, Alcoma on the Green Apartments
4. Medical Professional Hero: Timothy M. Campbell, M.D., Bethel Park
5. Military Hero: Ken Haynes, Veterans Leadership Program of Western PA
6. Professional Responder Hero: Ryan D. Wooten, Chief of Police, Borough of Rankin
7. Youth Hero: Renno Young, Bethel Park
8. Lifetime Commitment to the Red Cross: Debra Sines, R.N., Red Cross Volunteer
Launched in 2009, the Annual Heroes Breakfast has recognized a total of 46 heroes and four community leaders. This year’s event is sponsored by Hunter Associates, Inc., MSA, The Safety Company, UPMC and UPMC Health Plan, University of Pittsburgh, Calgon Carbon, and EDMC. Support is also provided by the United Way of Allegheny County.
Listed below are the 2015 heroes’ stories:
Educator Hero, Lauren McCutcheon – A fourth grade teacher at McCormick Elementary School in the Moon Area School District, 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, 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 organized fundraisers such as “Quarter Wars”, “Pink Out Day”, and “Green Out Day.” Last year, she helped the students participate in the & ldquo;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.”
Firefighter Hero, Asst. Chief 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.
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 Feb. 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. He couldn’t lift her, so he grabbed her ankles and pulled her towards the door. Tim helped her into the stairwell to get away from the smok e. Thanks to Tim’s bravery, she survived the fire.
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, has devoted his life to serving others. 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. His enthusiasm for active service to his fellow man 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 si x months from April to September 2015 for their "Continuing Promise" mission. Dr. Campbell is married with six children and three grandchildren, is a Red Cross volunteer and is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Military Hero, Ken Haynes – 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. 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.
Professional Responder Hero, Chief Ryan D. Wooten - On Thursday morning, Dec. 4, 2014, 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. 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. 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.
Youth Hero, Renno Young - On Oct. 7, 2014, Renno Young, then an 18-year-old student at Bethel Park Senior High School, was driving down his street 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. 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. Renno not only saved Mrs. Kelly’s life that day, he prevented further damage and possible injury to the responders by removing the unexploded oxygen tanks from the home. He 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.”
Lifetime Commitment to the Red Cross, Debra Sines, R.N. - 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. Debra volunteers 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. In regards to her experiences with the Red Cross, Debra said, "It's been a memorable 15-plus years.”
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 1996, Mr. Cannon was appointed as Allegheny County’s first 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 2006 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 2011, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett appointed him as Director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). 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-Directo r 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.