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American Red Cross Salutes Cortland, Tompkins Real Heroes

Red Cross CNY Heroes 2015
Each of this year’s honorees is directly responsible for saving a life – or multiple lives.

The American Red Cross of Cortland County and the American Red Cross of Tompkins County honored 13 people and two dogs for their heroic actions during the past year at their Fifth Annual Real Heroes Breakfast April 15 at Greek Peak Mountain Resort in Cortland.

The Cortland-Tompkins Real Heroes Breakfast celebrates the Red Cross mission of alleviating human suffering by recognizing residents from Cortland and Tompkins counties who in the past year performed heroic acts in life-threatening situations.

From a SUNY Cortland student who put out the fire in the tractor-trailer that crashed into Simeon’s restaurant in June to a dog that saved her owners’ lives when a fire started in their Ulysses home, each of this year’s honorees is directly responsible for saving a life – or multiple lives.

The American Red Cross provides life-changing services such as disaster response, disaster preparedness education, blood collection, health-and-safety classes, and services to members of our Armed Forces. Working families in Cortland and Tompkins counties often require emergency assistance, and from July 1 through Feb. 28 the Red Cross provided shelter, food, clothing and other assistance to 63 people from 20 families who were displaced from their homes by home fires and other emergencies in Cortland and Tompkins counties.

Cortland Regional Medical Center was the Premier Sponsor of the 2015 Cortland-Tompkins Real Heroes Breakfast. Award Sponsors included BorgWarner Inc., Cayuga Medical Center, Dryden Mutual Insurance Company, Ithaca Journal, NBT Bank, and Pall Corp.

Here’s the list of this year’s Real Heroes Breakfast awards and honorees:

• Adult Good Samaritan Award: Jennifer Curley, of Ithaca

On Jan. 2 – her birthday – Curley waded into frigid Cayuga Lake to rescue a man flailing in the water after he fell out of a boat.

• Animal Rescue Award: Lucy (owners Regina and Jerry Przygocki, of Ulysses)

Lucy’s barking awakened her owners and enabled them to escape safely after a chimney fire extended into the attic of their Ulysses home in November.

• Blood Donor Award: Elsie Mackey, of Homer

Mackey is a longtime blood donor who gives regularly at the American Red Cross blood drives at Cortland Regional Medical Center.

• Education Award: Katie Cohen, of Cortland

Cohen, a teacher’s aide at St. Mary’s Elementary School in Cortland, used the Heimlich Maneuver to save the life of a 4-year-old student who was choking on a piece of apple.

• Fire Rescue Award: Firefighter Tim Clemons, of Cortland

Clemons, a member of the Cortland Fire Department, responded to a fire Feb. 13 and provided assistance to a person who needed immediate medical attention. He then returned to the scene and helped nine more people who had suffered injuries or smoke inhalation.

• Good Neighbor Award: Lars Inman, of Moravia, and Jay Shreffler, of Moravia

While driving to work at about 4:45 a.m. one day this past fall, BorgWarner Inc. employees Inman and Shreffler spotted a car that flipped down a steep embankment and was submerged in a ditch filled with mucky swamp water. Inman and Shreffler rescued a mother and her three daughters, including an 11-month-old whose head was under water when they reached the car.

• Medical Award: Acting Lieutenant Jason Fulton and firefighters Ken Thompson and Trevor Peyus from the Ithaca

Fire Department; paramedics Oliver Jacob, David Sorensen and Erica Bretscher from Bangs Ambulance

On Dec. 17, crews from the Ithaca Fire Department and Bangs Ambulance teamed up to save the life of a 25-year-old woman who had gone into cardiac arrest at the Argos Inn in Ithaca and needed to be transported to the hospital.

• Military Award: Sgt. Tyson (owners Mike and Sue McLellan, of Danby)

Sgt. Tyson, now retired in Danby, served three overseas tours with the United States Marine Corps (one in Iraq and two in Afghanistan) with duties that included Improvised Explosive Device detection, drug detection and patrol work.

• Youth Good Samaritan Award: Ryan Johnson, of Newfield

When a tractor-trailer crashed into Simeon’s restaurant in Ithaca in June, Johnson was working nearby and rushed into the building. A student at SUNY Cortland, Johnson carried out one woman who had been thrown to the floor and returned to extinguish the fire that had started in the truck’s cab.