The American Red Cross of Central New York honored 13 Central New Yorkers for their heroic actions during the past year at its 16th annual Real Heroes Breakfast on Dec. 3 at the Oncenter in Syracuse.
About 800 people attended the Real Heroes Breakfast, which celebrates the Red Cross mission of alleviating human suffering by recognizing people from throughout Central New York who have performed heroic acts in life-threatening situations. From a 5-year-old Auburn girl who saved her mother’s life by calling 9-1-1 to the truck driver in the National Guard who orchestrated the dramatic Thruway rescue last December, each of this year’s honorees is directly responsible for saving a life – or multiple lives.
Proceeds from the Real Heroes Breakfast benefit the Red Cross, which provides relief to victims of disasters and helps people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. Working families in Central New York require almost daily emergency assistance because of home fires and other disasters, and in the fiscal year that ended June 30 the Red Cross provided about $160,000 in direct cash assistance, plus additional shelter and basic needs, to 860 people from 301 families who were displaced from their homes by disasters in Onondaga, Cayuga, Cortland, Madison and Oswego counties.
Here’s the list of this year’s Real Heroes Breakfast awards and honorees:
• Adult Good Samaritan Award: James Yadlosky
Yadlosky, a truck driver from Kirkwood, was driving home to the Binghamton area on June 20, when he noticed a fire at a house in a remote area of Aurelius (Cayuga County). While other drivers passed by, Yadlosky stopped his truck and rescued a disabled woman and two dogs from the burning home.
• Animal Rescue Award: Syracuse Dog Control Officer Jason Driscoll
Last Dec. 10, Driscoll spearheaded an effort to prevent a stranded dog from falling into Onondaga Creek. With Syracuse police officers holding his feet, Driscoll maneuvered his way down a steep hill and grabbed the dog, which was taken to the DeWitt Animal Hospital and eventually reunited with its owner.
• Blood Donor Award: Jerry Ball
Ball, of Syracuse, started donating blood when he was a teen-ager and recently received a “30 Gallon” pin for his more than 240 donations. After losing his wife to cancer and seeing both of his parents fall ill and need blood, he has seen firsthand the value of giving blood.
• Education Award: Syracuse University Professors David Coryell and Dennis Kinsey
While enjoying a motorcycle ride June 1 on Route 13 in Dryden, Coryell and Kinsey came upon a two-car accident with obvious serious injuries. The professors provided life-saving critical care and emotional support to a mother and two small children until emergency medical personal arrived to assist.
• Fire Rescue Award: Syracuse Firefighter Gene Johnson
Last Jan. 5, Johnson was one of the firefighters who responded to a fire at the McCarthy Manor high-rise for the elderly and disabled. A wheelchair-bound resident who was trapped inside and struggling to breathe called 9-1-1, and Johnson raced up eight flights and gave her his oxygen mask until more help arrived.
• Good Neighbor Award: Kirk Phillips
Phillips, of Parish, was driving on State Route 69 in West Amboy in the early morning of Aug. 12, when he came upon a serious accident. A man was trapped inside his burning vehicle, and Phillips fought through the fire and smoke to pull the man out of the car and to safety.
• Law Enforcement Award: Syracuse University Public Safety Senior Detective Edward Weber
While on robbery suppression detail on South Campus Sept. 1, Weber and Patrol Senior Specialist Stanley Prue were struck by a lightning bolt that carried through their car. Disoriented at first, Weber soon realized they had been struck by lightning and he administered life-saving first aid to his partner.
• Lifeline Award: Skyler Walter
On Aug. 28, 5-year-old Skyler, of Auburn, found her mother seriously ill and saved her life by calling 9-1-1. Skyler knew just what to do and was able to explain her mother’s condition and give the dispatcher their address – the two most critical pieces of information in these life-threatening situations.
• Medical Award: Upstate Medical University Nurse Shannon Tilbe
This past June, Tilbe was driving with her daughter when they witnessed a major motorcycle accident. Tilbe, of Brookfield, stopped to assist the female driver who had fallen down an embankment. The woman had serious injuries and survived only because of the care Tilbe provided until flight paramedics arrived.
• Military Award: Sgt. Raymond Presley
Presley, a truck driver and sergeant first-class in the National Guard, orchestrated the dramatic Thruway rescue last Dec. 9 of New York National Guard Capt. Timothy Neild, who was trapped in his burning pickup after it was involved in a crash. Neild’s truck exploded 30 seconds after rescuers carried him out.
• Workplace Safety Award: Eric Perez
Perez, a volunteer fireman with the East Syracuse Fire Department, was working at Planet Fitness in DeWitt last spring, when a 61-year-old man suffered a heart attack. Perez utilized his CPR training to revive and stabilize the man until medical personnel arrived.
• Youth Good Samaritan Award: Harry Hausser and Matthew Williams
Cousins Harry, of New Woodstock, and Matthew, of Sykesville, Md., teamed up last August to help rescue a man with an unsecured life vest who fell out of his boat on DeRuyter Lake, about 100 yards from shore. Fortunately, the boys were fishing in a small boat and recognized that the man needed help.
To learn how to nominate a Real Hero for 2015 or to get involved as a sponsor, please visit http://www.redcross.org/ny/syracuse/real-heroes