News Release: From American Red Cross EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The Our Heroes Banquet 2008, to be held Wednesday, April 9 at 6 p.m. at the Centre, promises to be an inspirational evening filled with stories of local heroism. During the banquet, 11 local Heroes will be recognized. The list of Heroes Award winners are listed below. The 2008 Hero of the Year Award is to be given to the Families of the 163rd Field Artillery Division of the Indiana National Guard. The banquet is also a celebration of the annual Heroes for the American Red Cross Campaign, a community-wide fundraising drive that supports the year-round services of the Southwestern Indiana Chapter. The fundraising total to date will be announced at the dinner by Jim Sandgren of Old National Bank, 2008 Campaign Chair. Jackie Monroe of FOX 7 will act as the Master of Ceremonies. Essay Winners Austin Rawlins-1st grade, 5th Street Elementary “Elementary school can be difficult for any child, but for a child with a disability, it is a challenge every single day. Logan Randolph is a boy in my class who is autistic. Logan is my hero because he has to be brave each and every day. At the start of the year, I helped Logan throughout the school day. While doing this, Logan taught me how important it is to be kind and helpful to people and that people learn in different ways. Now, Logan has learned to do most things by himself. He has made me a better person because of all he has taught me. “ Jacki Dillman- 12th grade, Carmi White County High School Imagine all of your precious memories slowly disappearing from your mind, and eventually not being able to even remember your most valued loved ones, like your husband or wife. Alzheimer’s not only brings suffering to the victim, but also to their loved ones. My grandfather, Bill Dillman, is my hero because of his everlasting patience, forgiveness, and love for his wife and my grandmother, who is a victim of Alzheimer’s. After more than fifty years together, it was hard, to say the least, for my grandfather to cope when his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. However, he has given her all the constant care and attention that she needs and still loves her as much as the day they met. My grandfather cares for her unconditionally and I have nothing but respect for his endless love, devotion, and faith. He will never be forgotten because a part of him will always live on through me. Brittany Bailey-8th grade, Washington Middle School When a tornado hits, immediate action is required to stay alive. On November 6th, 2005, when that infamous tornado made its way for Eastbrook Mobile Home Park, many lives were lost. However, two more lives would have been lost if it were not for my mother, Janice Jarred. It was her gut that saved our lives that night. My mom turned on the television because of a gut feeling, and received news of the tornado heading our way. She immediately took action and got us out of the trailer park, and to my grandmother’s house. After the tornado, we had to move in with my grandmother. My mom then lost her job, and our trailer was hit by lightning and caught on fire twice. After all of this, my mother became persistent in finding a job and getting back on her feet. She got a job and an apartment and got our lives back together after the tornado had destroyed it. My mother kept her head held high and never backed down from overcoming this tragedy, and has saved my life in more ways than one. Tyler Crane-4th grade, Luce Elementary Serving your country is one of the bravest things a person can do. My cousin, Robbie Philhower does just that and he is my hero for many reasons. Robbie was an athlete in high school who participated in football, track, and wrestling. He was the first at South Spencer in the 152 pound class to wrestle at semi-state. Upon graduating in 2004, Robbie enlisted in the United States Air Force. Robbie was stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri for four years after basic training, and became a military policeman, or a member of the security force. In 2006, Robbie along with 154 other servicemen volunteered to serve one year in Baghdad. Stationed at Camp Victory, Robbie operated a machine gun on the turret of a humvee and received several medals. Robbie returned home in 2007 and then re-enlisted. Robbie is my hero because of all of his accomplishments and bravery. Hero Award Winner – Program Synopsis Youth Award Winner – Michael Niemeier Heroes come in small packages. On June 4, five-year-old Michael Neimeier didn’t think, he acted. Preparing for a day of swimming at the Neimeier’s home, four-year-old Preston Willem went to sit by the edge of the pool while waiting for the others to get ready. He fell in unnoticed. One to three minutes elapsed before Michael noticed someone underwater. Without thinking, Michael immediately dove into the pool, grabbed Preston and treading water pushed him to the surface. Michael held him up, without taking a breath for himself, until an adult could pull Preston out of the water. A former cardiac care nurse on the scene was able to administer rescue breathing and CPR until paramedics could get there. Only one year older and not that much bigger, Michael and his quick actions saved his young friend from possible brain damage or death. According to Preston’s mother, Angie Willem, “due to the quick thinking and heroic efforts of Michael Neimeier, our lives are forever changed for the better.” Heroes come in small packages. Law Enforcement Award Winner – Mt. Vernon Police Officer, Tony Alderedge Heroes see people, not problems. Officer Tony Alderedge of the Mt. Vernon Police Department didn’t see a vagrant in trouble for sleeping in the backs of cars. Officer Alderedge saw Jimmy, a developmentally handicapped teen who needed a friend. When Jimmy turned 18, his abusive adoptive parents threw him out onto the street with no place to stay and no money to eat, Jimmy was a frequent problem for the police. After responding to repeated calls and finding Jimmy in desperate straits, Officer Alderedge took his own time and money to help Jimmy establish his identity, get an apartment and sign up for assistance. For the past two years, Officer Alderedge has remained Jimmy’s friend. He makes him individual, microwaveable meals, so that Jimmy won’t have to try to cook. He brings him quarters and taking him to do his laundry. He rescued him. According to Candida Schmidt, the Site Manager of the apartments where Jimmy lives, Jimmy is not the only one to benefit from Officer Alderedge’s kindness. Every day she sees Officer Alderedge help kids who are in trouble figure out what they need to do to straighten up, he watches out for people and helps them see options in times when there doesn’t seem to be any. “In this mess (of drug dealers, users and abusers), he provides options, examples and a generous heart,” said Candida. “He will always be a hero to Jimmy, to myself and to the citizens of this town lucky enough to encounter him.” Heroes see people, not problems. Firefighter Award Winner – Volunteer Firefighter, David Brown Heroes make sacrifices. David Brown is a volunteer firefighter for the Francisco Fire Department, the Princeton Fire Territory, and up until the department closed, the Patoka Township Fire Department. But that doesn’t even begin to touch on why David is a hero. For several weeks during the Hurricane Katrina cleanup efforts, David volunteered in New Orleans helping to rescue those who were stuck in their homes and cleaning up debris. Unfortunately, David’s generosity combined with his diabetes almost cost him his life. In his attempt to help others in their time of crisis, David spent many days walking around in the highly polluted flood waters. During his trip, the dirty water caused an infection in his foot that required him to be immediately flown back to Evansville to undergo several operations to rid his body of the life-threatening infection. Since his trip, David has lost all of the toes on that foot and most of the bone. David must still undergo additional treatments and surgeries and will most likely eventually lose the entire foot. However, when asked if he regrets his decision to help the hurricane victims, he will tell you that he did what needed to be done. David is no longer able to enter burning homes, but still serves as a volunteer firefighter to help his “brothers and sisters” in anyway he is able. His niece, Nicki Bruce sums him up in the following way, “David is not only a hero to our family…he is the definition of a true hero to our community and country.” Heroes make sacrifices. Adult Role Model Award Winner Heroes begin at home. It takes a strong person to be a firefighter. It takes an even stronger man to be a role model for his children. Gary Green is one of the strongest. In his work as an Evansville firefighter, Gary has done his share of heroic feats. Whether it was helping to recover bodies out of a car submerged in a lake, using an Automated External Defibrillator to shock a man back to life or saving a girl with life-threatening injuries from a fall out of a tree, Gary was there. Gary has needed his courage away from the job as well. About six months ago, Gary was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Through it all he has stayed strong for his family. And just recently, he suddenly found out that he had a brain tumor. After surgery to remove the benign tumor, Gary is recovering and doing well. Gary has received many awards and commendations for his on-the-job actions, but none quite as meaningful as what his daughter Katie Green, a senior at North High School, has to say about him. “My father is my hero, because he has saved many lives. He has fought cancer and he has been an amazing father through it all.” Heroes begin at home. Educator Award Winner Heroes care. Carol Cage is an individual whose energy and compassion knows no bounds. In her work at Evans Middle School this year, Carol has “adopted” a student who needed help in many areas. Carol has not only made sure that the child gets the school supplies she needs, but also personal hygiene items, clothes and a warm winter coat. Carol found the girl an optometrist that donated a free eye exam and glasses. She takes her home when she misses the bus. On her birthday, Carol treated her to a free haircut and now Carol is making plans to have a free haircut day for several middle school girls. Carol takes time to help people in their battle with cancer and to help those friends who are left behind. Whether it’s cooking a meal, taking over classroom duties or staying up all night with someone who just needs to talk, Carol is there with comfort and a friendly smile in these difficult times. “She doesn’t have to do any of this, but she does it anyway. She is the most generous person I know,” said her nominator, Sherri Stafford. Carol gives all of this without wanting or expecting anything in return. Heroes care. Group Award Winner – EVIE and Susan Harp Heroes come in all shapes, sizes and species. EVIE is a hero and she has a whole group of heroes to help her do her important work. EVIE is a yellow Labrador retriever that has a nose for litter. She and “her people” have teamed up with Keep Evansville Beautiful to help spread the message that “Every Volunteer is Essential” to combat litter in Evansville. EVIE is even the star of her own book “Retrieving with EVIE.” In the book, EVIE tries and tries to retrieve all of the litter she can around Evansville, but she soon realizes that she can’t do it all by herself. EVIE’s person, Susan, is a long-time volunteer with Keep Evansville Beautiful. She is working with the organization to implement an entire educational campaign to complement the book. All of the kindergarten and first-grade classrooms and school libraries in the county will receive free copies of the book. Thanks to EVIE and friends, Evansville will be more beautiful and everyone in the community will have a chance to be an anti-litter hero. Heroes come in all shapes, sizes and species. Community Heroes Award Winner Heroes serve those who served. No matter the weather, no matter the day, the Retired Veterans Memorial Club is there to give a last farewell to fellow veterans. The group provides a gun salute, live taps, and a flag to every local veteran who was honorably discharged from the service or who has died in the line of service. The all-volunteer group of mostly older gentleman make sure that each veteran has a fitting farewell, and that his or her family receives the comfort of having their loved ones service and sacrifices remembered. These ceremonies sometimes take place multiple times a week. Bill Mitchell, who represents the group in receiving the award, has been performing these services for over a decade. Their dedication and respect for their fellow veterans make them Our Heroes. Heroes serve those who served. Medical Award Winner Heroes are always on call. Who would think that fulfilling a New Year’s resolution would save a life. For five nurses from the Deaconess Hospital cardiac unit, their resolution to begin working out did just that. Erin Georges, Angie Gish, Crystal Porter, Dawn Rowley and Rachel Roy hadn’t planned on going to the gym that day. They had just finished the night shift and deserved a rest, but luck was on Dave Jourdan’s side when the nurses decided to go ahead and begin their resolution that day anyway. They had never met Dave before, but when he collapsed after walking on the treadmill, they knew exactly what to do. Like a well-timed machine, all five of them leapt into action. One nurse gave chest compressions, another gave mouth-to-mouth. One helped to ensure that paramedics were on the way and the rest searched for an Automated External Defibrillator. By the time paramedics got there, the nurses had revived Dave. “They are my heroes and my guardian angels,” said Dave. Heroes are always on call. Military Award Winner Heroes never forget. For C. Larry Rhodes, coming home from serving his country in Vietnam was harder than he expected. Because of his experience, Larry has vowed to not only honor those who serve, but to be available for the families that are left behind. To do that, Larry started “Operation: Support on the Home Front”, a group that works to see off and welcome home the men and women serving their country with dignity and honor. In addition, the organization is a safety net to help the families that are left behind with unexpected expenses, unanswered questions and day-to-day challenges. In the past five years, the organization has distributed more than $185,000 in goods and services. According to nominator Jim Coy, “Larry insists that the organization never be political or controversial, but to simply be an answer to urgent problems for those who so deeply miss their loved ones, so far away.” Heroes never forget. Adult Rescue Award Winner Heroes teach us courage. In July 2007, Shawn Frederick and his family were visiting Pride’s Creek Beach to celebrate a nephew’s birthday. While packing up to go home, Shawn heard the frantic plea of someone yelling for a lifeguard. Without a second thought, he dropped everything and ran in the direction of the water. There he found a woman clinging to the swimming area ropes, screaming, “He went down right there!” Shawn immediately dove beneath the cloudy lake water and discovered a young man face down and immobile on the bottom of the lake. Shawn grabbed the man, brought him to the surface and swam him to shore. Remarkably, once Shawn had the young man on shore, he took a breath. Shawn stayed with the young man until help arrived. The young man’s mother remarked that she truly believed that Shawn was the only person at the beach that day physically capable of bring her son to shore. Local newspapers report that the young man spent two days in the hospital following the near drowning. Shawn did not know the young man, but to a quick thinking, brave person, that didn’t matter. Heroes teach us courage. Volunteer Award Winner Heroes give of themselves. To Wally Paynter, working full-time for the Vanderburgh County Health Department is only the beginning of his work. For Wally his “free” evenings and weekends are full of work as a community volunteer. Wally works tirelessly to help educate the public about the needs of Muscular Dystrophy patients by helping with the MDA’s fundraisers and Telethon. In addition for the past 11 years, Wally has served as the Chair for the Tri-State AIDS Holiday Project. This past year the project met the needs of more than 270 low-income households impacted by HIV and AIDS throughout the Tri-State. Wally is one of those rare leaders that can “motivate others to roll up their sleeves to make a difference,” according to nominator, Representative Phil Hoy. For 12 hours each Christmas Eve and 10 hours the day after Christmas, Wally makes deliveries throughout the Tri-State region to bring groceries and gifts to needy households. Wally continues to coordinate an area youth group for at-risk youth every Saturday night. Heroes give of themselves. Hero of the Year Heroes make sacrifices. The 163rd Field Artillery Battalion of the Indiana National Guard arrived in Iraq at the end of March 2008. Their families, here at home, are Heroes. Families of deployed soldiers make sacrifices each and every day. Their loved ones, far away and in harm’s way, leave holes in their lives that won’t be filled until the soldiers’ safe return. Each day, while praying and waiting, family members must continue with their daily lives. Babies are born. Jobs are lost and gained. Parents pass away. Children graduate from high school, college. It’s not months that are being endured without the soldiers around; it’s memories being made without them. For those who have never experienced the deployment of a spouse, son, daughter or parent, imagine doing the laundry, watching the news or mowing the lawn, all the while worrying about the safety of a family member an ocean away. Imagine that the return date for your loved one is always tentative. Imagine how short the long-long-distance conversations would feel. The families of the 163rd don’t imagine it – they are living it, right now. The families of soldiers carry a burden throughout the days while their loved one is deployed. But they carry it with courage, and with conviction. Children are proud of their mothers and fathers; wives are proud of their husbands, and husbands are proud of their wives. Parents are proud of their children, all of them fighting to make a difference in their world. The families of our soldiers can carry their heads high. For many of the families of the 163rd Field Artillery Battalion, this is the second, or even the third, deployment. The daily struggle for courage and strength that the families of soldiers are waging, here on the home front, deserves recognition and commendation. Families of the 163rd Field Artillery Battalion, you are not alone. To this community, you are Heroes. Heroes make sacrifices.