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American Red Cross Honors Mohawk Valley's Real Heroes

American Red Cross Honors 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 of the Mohawk Valley honored several individuals and organizations for their heroic actions during the past year at the 15th Annual Real Heroes Breakfast June 4 at the Field House on the campus of SUNY IT in Utica.

The Real Heroes Breakfast celebrated the Red Cross mission of alleviating human suffering by recognizing people from Oneida, Herkimer, Otsego and Delaware counties who performed heroic acts in life-threatening situations. Among this year’s honorees: Two Utica firefighters who rescued a 4-year-old girl from her burning home; an off-duty Gilbertsville Fire Chief who assisted a woman and her toddler after their car crashed down a ravine and into a stream bed; and 4-year-old and 6-year-old girls who saved lives by keeping calm during life-or-death emergencies.

About 350 people attended the event, which was held at SUNY IT for the first time. Proceeds from the Real Heroes Breakfast benefit the Red Cross of the Mohawk Valley, which provides relief to victims of disasters and helps people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.

“Putting others’ needs ahead of our own is at the heart of what the Red Cross does,” Julie Darling, Community Executive of the American Red Cross of the Mohawk Valley said to the Real Heroes Breakfast audience. “This event is about the people who have done that for others in our community all year.

“We love this event because we can honor great people who do great things for others, right here at home,” Julie added. “And with the help of you, our honored guests 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.”

Major sponsors of the 2014 Real Heroes Breakfast were: Empower Federal Credit Union, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, GPO Federal Credit Union, NBT Bank, New York Central Mutual Insurance, and Vernon Downs. Media sponsorship was provided by WKTV News Channel 2.

To become a Real Heroes sponsor for the 2015 Breakfast, contact Julie or Mallory Brown, Major Gift Officer, at (315) 733-4666, or

Here’s the list of 2014 awards and honorees:

  • Michael Cianfrocco Family Humanitarian of the Year Award: Lawrence T. “Larry” Gilroy. Larry is President of Kernan & Gilroy Inc., a Risk Management, Insurance and Employee Benefit firm located in Central New York since 1904. He’s also highly involved in the community through the Bank of Utica, Utica College Board of Trustees, Executive Committee at Mohawk Valley Edge, Masonic Medical Research Lab, and Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council.
  • Mary Haggerty Education Award: Lucas Fesko. Lucas, a long-term substitute teacher at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Utica, is head of the ESL (English as a Second Language) program for refugees at the Utica Adult Learning Center. He provides local refugees with vital literacy education and helps integrate them into American culture.
  • Adult Good Samaritan Award: Dave Robinson. While off duty and driving through the Town of Butternuts in December, Gilbertsville Fire Chief Robinson noticed some tire marks on a steep hill leading into a wooded area. Chief Robinson bravely entered the area to assist a woman and small child whose vehicle had crashed down a ravine and into a stream bed.
  • Animal Rescue Award: Jill Stafford. Jill works and volunteers tirelessly with several animal organizations, ensuring that dogs are adopted and placed in safe and loving homes.
  • Fire Rescue Award: Utica Fire Captain Scott Ingersoll and firefighter Frederick DeCarlo. Captain Ingersoll and firefighter DeCarlo, who have responded to many life-threatening situations, rescued a 4-year old child from her burning home in February 2013 and continued helping the family by connecting them with needed resources.
  • 9-1-1 Dispatch Award: Oneida County 9-1-1 (Theodore Achen, Joseph Baker, Brenda Dean, Melody Kalk, Joseph Moskala, Meredith Ricci, Regina Sege and Caitlin Traynor). Oneida County 9-1-1 dispatchers notified the Utica Fire Department when a refugee family’s apartment caught fire and the dispatchers were able to provide crucial information and guidance for the first responders as they assisted the terrified family.
  • Kurt Wyman Law Enforcement Award: Jim Fister. On Dec. 10, Oneida County Probation Officer Fister questioned an intoxicated student and administered life-saving CPR to the student when he unexpectedly became unresponsive.
  • Blood Services Award: Cheryl Jassak. Cheryl has conquered her fear of needles in order to give blood on numerous occasions, and she encourages others in the community to do the same. She also works to raise awareness and money for other non-profit organizations throughout the Mohawk Valley.
  • Military Award: Master Sgt. Bernie Jowers. On March 21, Air Force MSgt. Jowers of Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome was off duty and enjoying dinner at the Outback Steakhouse in New Hartford when he had to perform the Heimlich maneuver to save the life of a choking companion.
  • Medical Award: Waterville Area Ambulance and Fire Departments: When a young student was ejected from her vehicle on the morning of Nov. 13, the Waterville Ambulance and Fire departments responded to provide medical aid for the student.
  • Youth Good Samaritan Award: Alyssa Lynn Dahlke and Olivia LaSalle. With two compelling youth stories, the American Red Cross decided to honor Alyssa and Olivia as co-award winners. Four-year-old Alyssa had the presence of mind to quickly dial for help when she found her mother unconscious as a result of a seizure. Six-year-old Olivia promptly dialed 9-1-1 when she noticed her neighbor’s shed had caught fire.