Red Cross Heroes Breakfasts are signature community events that recognize everyday men, women, and youth who have undertaken extraordinary acts of kindness and courage to prevent and alleviate human suffering, exemplifying the true spirit of the American Red Cross.
Please join us as we celebrate exceptional individuals who have made a personal commitment to creating a safer and stronger community.
For more information, email Melissa Fazzio at Melissa.Fazzio@redcross.org
or call (860) 678-2724.
Community Resilience Hero Award: Town of East Hartford
The Town of East Hartford has proactively committed significant resources to emergency preparedness, ensuring the town is ready to respond and recover from disasters.
A prime example of East Hartford’s readiness was the October snowstorm of 2011, where heavy, wet snow downed trees and power lines leaving the entire community without power for nearly a week. Emergency shelters were opened and town employees and volunteers delivered readymade meals obtained from the National Guard to more than 100,000 residents. The Mayor, police and volunteers went door-to-door at housing complexes with large populations of senior citizens, the disabled, and other vulnerable populations to check on residents as they sheltered in place.
In preparedness, the town has partnered with the American Red Cross in training East Hartford Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members. The CERT was deployed to establish emergency shelters, eventually turning the operation over to the American Red Cross.
Working side-by-side with the American Red Cross at a recent statewide readiness drill, the CERT and East Hartford Emergency Management personnel participated in the production of a video to help the deaf and hearing impaired community understand how to access Red Cross emergency shelters. “This has created a team atmosphere between our organizations,” said American Red Cross Senior Director of Emergency Services Rebecca Johnson.
The Town also responds to situations of need including the relocation of residents displaced by fire, lack of heat, or when their building structure is compromised. “The work that we have done and the programs we put in place and continue to grow only serve to strengthen our community,” said Mayor Marcia Leclerc.
Spirit of the Red Cross Award: Ray Adams
Because he was coaching a youth football league, Ray Adams decided to get First Aid training. He enrolled in a Red Cross class in late August, as the season was starting, so he would be prepared if it was needed. The training was in fact needed that same day, when Adams used his new skills to save his own child’s life.
That day during a scrimmage match, Adams' 11 year-old son, RayShawn, fell during a play, landing on the football. It seemed at first that RayShawn might have had the wind knocked out of him by the fall, but Adams soon realized something was wrong when RayShawn did not get up. Adams rushed on to the field.
“It looked as though RayShawn was having a seizure and struggling for breath,” Adams said in a story reported by The Hartford Courant. “I checked for a pulse, and there was no pulse."
Fortunately, Adams knew what to do because he had covered the material that morning in an American Red Cross first aid and CPR at the Sport and Medical Sciences Academy in Hartford. Adams used the training he received that very same morning to perform CPR on his own son.
As he had been taught, Adams administered chest compressions and rescue breaths. After the second round of compressions and breaths, RayShawn gasped for air and regained consciousness.
Adams told The Courant that he shared his story hoping that it would prompt other coaches to get training. "I want every coach to be CPR certified. Because imagine if I wasn't there?" Adams said.
Workplace Hero Award: United Technologies
United Technologies supports safer, healthier communities here at home and across the nation. Through support of the American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program, UTC helps to ensure the Red Cross has the resources to respond when disaster strikes. In the past two years, UTC has given $900,000 helping to provide a reliable funding base that allows the Red Cross to respond immediately, meeting the needs of people affected by disaster anywhere in the U.S.
Locally, UTC stepped forward in the wake of the crippling October 2011 snowstorm with a donation of 5,000 Kidde carbon monoxide alarms. The Red Cross was able to distribute these alarms with local fire officials at a time when many Connecticut residents were without power and there was an increased risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from use of generators and improvised heating devices.
UTC is generous not only in financial support but in volunteer support as well. UTC executives have served on the Connecticut Chapter Board of Directors and UTC employees volunteer in support of programs that help support veterans and help to assure a safe and adequate blood supply.
Last year, the company provided 100 tote bags filled by employees with personal care and comfort items such as toiletries, playing cards and sweatshirts to support the Totes of Hope program, which provides the totes to homeless veterans.
UTC employees are generous with their gift of life, with nearly 2,600 units of blood collected at drives in company locations across Connecticut last year.
UTC is committed to safer workplaces, offering Red Cross safety training at locations across all divisions. Employees trained in skills like CPR and first aid are better prepared for emergencies at work and are prepared also to help family members and neighbors in need.
UTC’s generosity with funds, products and expertise; their commitment to safer workplaces; their support of blood drives at business operations and the outstanding volunteer commitment of UTC employees makes United Technologies a true workplace hero for the Red Cross.
Lifesaving Hero Award: Andy Buckle and Diane Sodaro, RN
Trained and ready Canton Public Schools employees and Canton residents Andy Buckle and Diane Sodaro saved the life of a Canton high school student last September. Buckle is Technology Specialist with Canton Public Schools. Sodaro, a Registered Nurse, is School Nurse Supervisor. Both are located at Canton High School. Both are members of the school’s Emergency Response Team.
Last September, Buckle responded to a distress call in the cafeteria, where a student had collapsed and was showing signs of seizure. Buckle checked the student for a pulse but found none. By this time, Sodaro was on the scene and confirmed the lack of pulse. The school’s assistant principal delivered the AED to the scene and Sodaro readied the AED while Buckle attempted to open the student’s airway. Sodaro connected the AED and it determined a shock was necessary. Sodaro followed it with CPR. The student regained consciousness after about 30 seconds, as emergency personnel were arriving. He was transported to the hospital, where he was treated and was diagnosed with a rare and potentially fatal heart disorder, which has been treated.
Buckle said that he visited the student’s family at the hospital and realized that “what we had done saved his life.” He said he was excited to be nominated. “I am very proud of the team we have here in Canton… The hours we have spent creating Emergency Response Teams in our schools really paid off that day.”
Buckle is also a volunteer with the local ambulance service and is Red Cross trained and certified in CPR. In 2010, he became a Red Cross instructor. He says he has been Red Cross certified “going all the way back to the Boy Scouts in the 1980s.”
Military Hero Award: Sergeant First Class Alex Seretny
Sergeant First Class Alex Seretny is an 11-year veteran of the Connecticut Army National Guard who has served three combat tours in Afghanistan, totaling more than 30 months of overseas service. He is the recipient of the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the nation's fourth-highest combat award; the Purple Heart; the Combat Infantryman's Badge; and the Combat Action Badge, among many other honors and recognitions.
SFC Seretny received the Bronze Star Medal for Valor for heroic actions during a battle in the Masamute Valley, Laghman Province, Afghanistan, during his second tour with the 102nd Infantry in September, 2010.
SFC Seretny was awarded the Purple Heart during his last overseas tour with the 1048th Transportation Company for wounds received when the night convoy he was commanding was attacked with an improvised explosive device and small arms fire in Qalat Province in June 2013. He has been recommended for a second Bronze Star for his bravery in this attack as well. After his injury, and while still stationed in Afghanistan, Seretny re-enlisted for another six years.
At a welcome home ceremony for his Connecticut National Guard unit last year, The Day of New London reported that Seretny said, “I’m just trying to give back. The state has been nothing but good to me. The Military has opened more doors for me than any other facet of my life.”
SFC Seretny also was noted in The Day’s report as stating that “When you deploy with your fellow soldiers, they really start to become part of your extended family.” Upon being informed of his nomination for this award, Seretny said, “I would have to share the honor with the warriors of the 1-102nd Infantry and the 1048th Transportation Company.”
Special Tribute: Firefighter Kevin Bell
On the evening of October 7 2014, Hartford Firefighter Kevin Bell, along with other members of Engine 16 and Tactical Unit 1, responded to a fire on Blue Hills Avenue in Hartford.
Firefighter Bell was advancing an attack line in efforts to extinguish the fire when he suffered critical injuries and was removed from the building in cardiac arrest. Despite all efforts made to revive him, Bell did not survive. Another firefighter was badly burned and two others were injured.
Bell, 48, was a six-year veteran of the Hartford Fire Department. Prior to joining HFD, he was a school security officer. Bell’s brother, Shawn, told The Hartford Courant that his brother loved his work and dreamed of rising through the ranks like his cousin, retired Chief Charles Teale.
"He studied hard and he always came home and talked about what specific training he had that particular day," Shawn Bell said. "He was elated at the fact he was going to become a fireman. He talked about becoming a chief. He loved his job."
The Hartford Courant reported that Hartford Fire Chief Carlos M. Huertas described Bell as effervescent, vivacious and having a great sense of humor. “Firefighter Bell represents and embodies the best in all of us,” Huertas said.
At the memorial service for Bell, thousands of firefighters from across the nation turned out to honor a colleague. They were joined by Bell’s family and friends who knew him as a father, brother and son who loved his work, but also loved music. He was recalled by his brother in a story reported on NBC Connecticut as a “hands-on father,” an involved member of the community, a coach and a mentor.