Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, all genders and abilities, but a thread runs through all of them. In most cases, they are ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Those were the people honored Wednesday morning at the Ninth-Annual Ohio River Val-ley Chapter of the American Red Cross, 2007 Heroes Breakfast, sponsored by the Ports-mouth Daily Times, at the Southern Ohio Medical Center Friends Community Center.
Dr. Wayne Wheeler again was the master of ceremonies for the event that honored people and organizations in 16 categories.
Among the recipients was Barb Whitaker, a nursing assistant in Maternity at Southern Ohio Medical Center, who is credited with saving the life of Jackson Rawlings, a son of Matthew and Emily Rawlings. Whitaker received the CPR Hero Award.
Whitaker was on her patio on Aug. 12, 2006, when she heard cries from next door. Her neighbor's child was nearly drowning in his home swimming pool. Emily Rawlings was pulling her son out of the water when Whitaker arrived, but needed assistance in performing CPR.
Being trained herself, Whitaker administered CPR until help arrived, and is credited with saving the 3-year-old's life.
As Wheeler was quick to add, this was not the first life saving event for Whitaker. Twenty years ago, she saved another child by administering CPR, after the child was struck by a vehicle.
“The amazing thing is, not only has she saved two lives that we know of, she has probably saved many more in maternity, that we don't know about,” said Sondra Hash, chairman of the board of the local Red Cross Chapter, after taking over the reins of the chapter as interim executive director until a new executive director could be named.
Hash herself was the recipient of the Marcia Sanderlin Hero award, the second member of her family to win an award at the breakfast.
Earlier, Hash's father, Gary Fisher, a cancer survivor, accepted the Blood Donor Hero Award. Fisher has donated nearly 19 gallons of blood over the years, inspiring his daughter to become involved in the Red Cross Chapter.
“When dad found out he wouldn't be able to donate blood right away after a bout with prostate cancer, he was pretty bummed,” Hash said. “He has always said, ‘If you can give blood, you should,”
Hash said her father is back to donating blood regularly, and is a “double-red,” donor at the SOMC blood drives.
Other award winners were: Bridget Scott, Blood Services Hero; Jack Hughes, Law Hero; Adult, Hero Kevin Doyle, whose award was accepted by Howard Richard; Jerry Howe, Community Hero.
The Water Safety Hero Award was presented to Sandra and Sarah Wall, John Edgar, Jr., and Thomas Vancleve, for their efforts in saving the life of John Edgar, Sr..
The Senior Hero is Walter Arnold. The Red Cross Volunteer Hero Award was presented to Rebecca Will, Christine Martin is the Workplace Hero, and Neighbor to Neighbor Min-istries, represented by Pastor Arlis McCall, received the Preparedness Hero Award.
The Neighbor to Neighbor program was initiated at Central Baptist Church in June of 2005, and since has been joined by several other churches including Sedan/Crabtree Baptist Church, Franklin Furnace Baptist Church, South Webster Baptist Church and Grace Baptist Church of Minford.
The Pike County Volunteer Hero Award was presented posthumously to Neysa and Monty Ballein. Neysa Ballein's daughter, Carrie Frederick accepted the award.
The Literacy Council of Scioto County, Randal M. Arnett, Jan Broughton, and Dr. Rita Rice Morris, received the Education Hero Award.
The Literacy Council founded by the chief administrators of three area institutions, Southern Ohio Medical Center, Shawnee State University, and the Portsmouth City Schools, has set as their three goals, to increase the high school graduation rates, develop a more marketable work force and enable more people to seek higher education.
Saundra Wheeler received the Scioto County Volunteer Hero Award.
Mary Arnzen only is in the second week as executive director, but said she was fortunate to have the training to bring the event together.
“I think the event went very well. I've had a short time to prepare, but I've had some good training,” Arnzen said. “I worked at Notre Dame Schools a long time, and we had many different events, so that pretty much prepared me for this one.”
Sue Pelfrey, advertising manager of the Portsmouth Daily Times and a Red Cross board member, told those present at the event they are all important to the services offered by the Red Cross.
“You may not receive an award today, your name may not be mentioned, but speaking as a Red Cross board member, if you give blood, volunteer your time or contribute financially to the local chapter of the American Red Cross, you too, are a hero.”
Arnzen said she felt pride as each of the recipients was announced.
“These winners are awesome. You can't even imagine how they're feeling, and how they made the people, they are heroes to, feel,” Arnzen said. “It's just an awesome program, and it honors people who should be honored.”
Arnzen also took the opportunity to thank two corporate sponsors.
“I can't thank the Portsmouth Daily Times enough. They have really been a wonderful sponsor,” Arnzen said. “And I want to thank Southern Ohio Medical Center who provided everything for the breakfast, such as the Friends Center, the beverages, the meal and the tablecloths. We didn't have to pay for anything, so all of the money we received from our sponsors was clear profit.”
At the outset of the program, Hash talked about the services needed already during the current fiscal year including more than a dozen fires that have required Red Cross response teams.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.