The Southern Tier Chapter of the American Red Cross honored 16 Southern Tier residents for their heroic actions during the past year at its 6th Annual Real Heroes Breakfast May 13 at The McKinley at Huron Campus in Endicott.
The Real Heroes Breakfast celebrates the Red Cross mission of alleviating human suffering by recognizing residents from Broome, Chenango and Tioga counties who in the past year performed heroic acts in life-threatening situations. Proceeds from the Real Heroes Breakfast support Red Cross lifesaving services such as disaster response, preparedness education, and service to members of our Armed Forces.
Pen Farthing, a former Royal Marine Commando and founder of Nowzad Dogs, was this year’s Real Heroes Breakfast guest speaker. Inspired by a dog he adopted while on duty in Afghanistan, Farthing started Nowzad Dogs, a nonprofit organization that reunites soldiers with stray dogs and cats they adopted during combat.
Nowzad’s motto is “Leave no four-legged buddy behind,” and it has so far reunited about 750 soldiers with the dogs or cats they adopted while on duty. In 2014, Farthing received the CNN Hero of the Year Award for his work with Nowzad Dogs.
Award sponsors for the 2015 Real Heroes Breakfast were: Ad Elements, Auchinachie Services, BAE Systems, Fox 40 WICZ, IBM, iHeart Media, Lockheed Martin MST, NBT Bank, New York Central Mutual Insurance, Press & Sun Bulletin, Security Mutual Life, Tioga Downs Casino, Visions Federal Credit Union, and WSKG TV. Auchinachie Services and Greater Binghamton Airport were Real Heroes Breakfast pre-event sponsors.
Additional Sponsors of the Real Heroes Breakfast were: Columbian Financial Group, Levene Gouldin & Thompson, LLC, M&T Bank, NYSEG, Ophthalmic Associates of the Southern Tier, Raymond Corporation, Rockwell Collins, and Southern Tier Harley Davidson.
Here’s the list of this year’s Real Heroes Breakfast awards and honorees:
• Adult Good Samaritan Award: Timothy Hubbard, security officer at UHS Wilson Medical Center. In a tragic incident in March 2014 that claimed the life of police officer David Smith, Hubbard helped prevent another tragedy by assisting a police officer who was wrestling with a man that was trying to take the officer’s gun.
• Animal Rescue Award: Ryan Ellsworth of Endicott. This past January, Ellsworth rescued an 8-year-old Labrador that was stranded in frigid and icy Owego Creek.
• Blood Donor Award: Jim Free, of Vestal. Free, the operations manager for all six iHeart media radio stations in Binghamton and midday host at rock KGB 92.5, is a longtime blood donor who has donated platelets every other week for the past three years.
• Good Neighbor Award: Broome County Sheriff David Harder. Sheriff Harder’s innovative program to make the drug NARCAN available to every member of his department has saved eight people who were overdosing on heroin (NARCAN reduces the effects of the overdose).
• Fire Rescue Award: Johnson City Fire Department Captain Keith McCafferty and firefighters Patrick Corry, Nicholas Stashko and David Smith. In August 2014, these firefighters simultaneously rescued nine people trapped on the second floor of an apartment building and helped contain the fire.
• Good Samaritan Youth Award: Jesse Gates, student at Oxford Academy High School.
• Educator Award: Margo Barrows, Oxford Academy High School Physical Education teacher.
• Law Enforcement Award: Oxford Police Officer Cole Samsel.
Two days before Christmas, Gates observed a woman driving erratically and he enlisted the help of Barrows, one of his teachers, and Officer Samsel, who was off duty at the time, to stop the woman and prevent a serious accident. The woman was having a medical emergency, and the three heroes displayed kindness and compassion as they comforted her until medical help arrived.
• Lifeline/9-1-1 Award: Steven Brown and Daniel Seymour, from the West Colesville Fire Company Emergency Medical Response Team. This past October, Brown and Seymour saved a man who had gone into cardiac arrest. The man wasn’t a stranger; he was Seymour’s father.
• Medical Award: Dr. Michael Kinney, Associate Vice President and Dean of Liberal Arts at SUNY Broome. Dr. Kinney saved a choking colleague’s life by performing the Heimlich maneuver on her until the obstruction was dislodged.
• Military Award: Jeff Gural, Chairman of the real estate development firm Knewmark Grubb and owner of Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs and the Meadowlands. Gural, a staunch supporter of U.S. military veterans, fully funded an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., in April 2014 for 79 veterans of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.
• Workplace Safety Award: Earl Walker, U.S. Postal Service mail carrier. Last September, Walker recognized that a 95-year-old Binghamton man who lived alone wasn’t picking up his mail. Walker alertly made a phone call to the police that saved the man’s life because he had fallen a few days earlier and couldn’t get up.
Photos courtesy of American Red Cross volunteers Chuck Haupt and Rebecca McManus.