Sunday, May. 8, 2005

Honour for Hero Who Helped Jews Escape Nazi Persecution

A Second World War hero dubbed “the British Schindler” for helping thousands of Jews escape Germany was today honoured in his home town.

Frank Foley used his official job at the British Embassy in Berlin to issue visas to Jews fleeing Nazi persecution.

Now an 8ft-high Portland stone statue has been unveiled in his birthplace of Highbridge, Somerset, to provide a permanent tribute to him.

David Rothenberg, vice-chairman of the Association of Jewish Refugees, which partly funded the statue, said: “We are delighted to have contributed to this worthy cause and honour the life of Major Foley. Without his bravery and initiative, many more people would have been trapped in Germany and would inevitably have lost their lives.

“On the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War we take this opportunity to reflect on the enormous impact one individual can make.”

Major Foley was posted to Berlin in the early 1920s by the Secret Intelligence Service, the predecessor of MI6.

After Adolf Hitler rose to power in 1933, Major Foley used his job as the embassy’s passport control officer to issue the necessary paperwork to Jews to leave Germany for sanctuary – often bending rules under which London was trying to limit Jewish migration to British-ruled Palestine.

It is estimated he helped around 10,000 Jews.

Described as a deeply-religious Catholic, Major Foley also went into concentration camps to secure the release of Jewish prisoners, and sheltered Jews in his own home until they could leave the country.

The new statue was commissioned in 2000 on behalf of the Foley Committee, which has also erected a plaque outside the house in which he was born.

Local volunteers raised more than £25,000 for the statue, which depicts Major Foley stamping the visa of an anonymous Jewish refugee.

The statue now stands in front of Highbridge community centre.

Last year a plaque was unveiled at the British Embassy in Berlin to Major Foley, who died in 1973.

Calling him “a true British hero”, British Ambassador Sir Peter Torry, who carried out the ceremony, said: “Without diplomatic immunity, at considerable personal risk to himself, this unassuming man chose to follow his conscience.”

At the ceremony last November, Peter Weiss recalled that his mother “heard a rumour that someone was giving out visas in Berlin” and went to Major Foley’s office in 1939. He let her stay at his apartment for three days before presenting her with documents that allowed her to flee to Belgium.

“My mother was virtually the only survivor of a very large family,” Weiss said. “All the children from that time who survived are his legacy.”

In 1999, Major Foley was named as a Righteous Among The Nations, the highest award Israel can confer on a non-Jew for saving Jews from Nazi persecution.

His name was inscribed on a wall in the Garden of the Righteous, which tumbles down a wooded hillside outside Jerusalem.

Saturday, May. 7, 2005

Grateful Amsterdam Honors Canadian Liberators

As a young private from Gaspe, Que., Charles Bouchard wasn’t aware just how big a piece of history he was watching unfold on May 5, 1945, when he stood guard outside the brick hotel where the Germans surrendered Holland to a Canadian general.

But on Thursday, as he stood outside the De Wereld Hotel and watched more than 100,000 Dutch residents turn out for a military parade to mark Liberation Day, the significance of that brief meeting was everywhere.

“The streets were empty, but we had guards at each end,” recalled Bouchard, 80, who served with the Royal 22nd Regiment.

“I remember the Germans seemed to be quite nervous, that’s the impression I had.”

Bouchard said he hoped Gen. Johannes Blaskowitz, German commander-in-chief in the Netherlands, would surrender and the war would be over, but he was kept out of the loop.

“We didn’t know what was happening, we didn’t know we were in the process of helping make history. I only realized it several years later when I learned that it was here that the surrender was worked out.”

But that meeting in the hotel’s dining room, in this town about 100 kilometres southeast of Amsterdam, led Blaskowitz to agree to the terms of a surrender, ending five years of Nazi occupation in Holland that killed more than 230,000.

Bouchard had witnessed the hardships first-hand, crossing back and forth the enemy line to deliver food in the weeks before victory in Europe was declared May 8.

Thursday, it was a vibrant, healthy and grateful Dutch population that welcomed Bouchard and veterans from several Allied ranks represented in the parade.

Thirteen Canadian veterans officially attended the event, which was preceded by a private service attended by Dutch Prince William Alexander, but several others marched under banners such as the Royal Canadian Legion and the Canadian Liberation 60 Band.

The crowd applauded long and loud, hanging out windows, waving, and jumping off the sidewalk to snap photos.

Red, white and blue confetti rained onto aging veterans as they proudly marched, their arms swinging and heads held high.

One veteran insisted on abandoning his wheelchair for a few hundred metres, gripping a uniformed friend’s hand tightly for support before eventually returning to the chair.

Marike Bakker, a 35-year-old homemaker, was one of several people to secure their curb-side positions a full eight hours early.

“I feel very emotional,” said Bakker, a camera draped around her neck.

“I think these veterans are going to die soon, so we as younger people must understand what happened in the Second World War.”

One Canadian watching the day’s events unfold from his Edmonton home was the translator at the armistice table.

Dr. George Molnar, who landed the job in his intelligence role with the 1st Canadian Division, recalls the mood in the room as somewhat sombre.

“They (Germans) behaved as the professional soldiers they were,” Molnar, 82, told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview.

“They were downhearted, but everyone had known what was coming.”

Molnar was unable to attend the VE-Day ceremonies in the Netherlands, a week-long series of events involving some 1,500 veterans from Canada.

Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson, who attended the event, said this week of commemoration in Holland and the degree of respect for Canada is understandable given the circumstances the Dutch were facing.

“To suddenly see themselves being relieved by young and good-looking troops, that’s what keeps the memory alive,” Clarkson told reporters before the parade.

“When they say ‘Thank you Canada,’ they’re saying thank you to the spirit of Canada.”

Veterans Affairs Minister Albina Guarnieri, who had returned to Canada after greeting the veterans at the airport due to fears about a non-confidence vote in the Commons, flew back to the Netherlands on Thursday and caught up with the veterans at a military tattoo.

She will be joined by Prime Minister Paul Martin, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe on Monday, when they put their political bickering aside to spend a few hours with the veterans before they head back to Canada on Tuesday.

Friday, May. 6, 2005

Local Man Called Hero

Elderly Woman Saved From Burning Apartment.

A local man is a hero Friday night after saving the life of his 48-year-old bed-ridden neighbor from her burning apartment building.

Ed Thompson heard the cries of the woman inside the Eastmont Estates apartments in Greensburg and ran inside the apartment to save the woman’s life.

Thompson saw the smoke and broke a window, found the woman, and got her out through the window.

The woman was taken to a burn unit and is thankful to be alive.

Pat Wilson of The Red Cross credits Thompson for saving the woman’s life.

Thursday, May. 5, 2005

Heroes save lives, prevent tragedy

Nine heroes and four heroic groups will be honored by the Mount Rainier chapter of the American Red Cross this morning in addition to 9-1-1 dispatch hero Cody Roberts of Olympia.

Here are their stories:

– Department of Corrections employees were named Workplace Safety Heroes for helping a collapsed co-worker.

Doug Hasselbach was found unconscious, not breathing and turning blue May 25 near his office at the state Department of Corrections headquarters in downtown Olympia.

A group effort began to save his life. While one staff member took his pulse, another called 9-1-1. Several co-workers turned him over, and someone else ran for the first-aid kit. Those trained in first aid and CPR stepped forward to provide aid.

Several staff members directed medics to the scene and provided information, while another ran to notify Hasselbach’s wife.

Despite the heroic efforts, Hasselbach didn’t survive. Medics reported that they rarely have witnessed a more organized lifesaving effort.

Corrections staff involved included Ranae Cooper, Kris Geringer, Lydia Haelle, Morgan Lee, Kimberly Pearson, Lynn Scott, Virginia Shamburg, Paula Terrell, Casey Thornton and Tracy Wade.

– Keystone Crisis Nursery was named an Olympia Community Partner Hero for aiding about 200 families by providing access to child care during emergencies.

Keystone aims to prevent child abuse and neglect by encouraging parents to get help before a crisis occurs. Keystone helps parents who have nowhere else to turn during a medical emergency or when fleeing a domestic violence situation. Organizers also provide a safe place for children when their parents have a job interview or need to take care of a legal issue.

Keystone recently helped a young mother suffering from postpartum depression with child care, so she could find a house and schedule therapy sessions. In another case, Keystone helped a grandmother caring for her grandchild get rest after chemotherapy treatments.

– Mark Noble of Olympia was posthumously named a Legacy Hero for his lifesaving efforts in protecting firefighters locally and nationally.

Noble, 47, died in January of brain cancer, which his doctors attributed to long-term exposure to carcinogens from years of fighting fires. His death was considered Olympia’s first in the line of duty.

Noble’s career began before firefighters routinely wore breathing filters. After his diagnosis in May 2002, Noble began promoting precautions against breathing toxins and appeared in an educational video available nationwide on the cancer risks posed by firefighting.

The Olympia Fire Department, with help from the Civic Foundation and the Washington State Council of Firefighters, will distribute the video to every fire department in Washington.

– Brad Kelley of Lacey, a soldier stationed at Fort Lewis, was named a Military Hero for saving a fellow soldier while serving in Iraq.

On Sept. 29, Sgt. 1st Class Kelley was nearing the end of his tour of duty when an improvised explosive hit his armored personnel carrier.

Kelley’s first reaction was to make sure everyone was OK. One soldier did not respond.

He quickly rushed to the hatch to find that the explosion had cut the fuel and hydraulic lines, starting a fire. Within minutes, smoke and fire had spread through the driver’s compartment. He immediately moved to the driver’s hatch and pulled the injured soldier from the wreckage.

After ensuring the rest of his soldiers made it out, Kelley and his team ran back to the burning vehicle to retrieve as much of the equipment, radios and ammunition as possible. If the ammunition had caught fire and exploded, it would have caused additional injuries.

– Jessica Jang of Lacey was named the Spirit of the Red Cross Hero for raising money to benefit tsunami victims.

After watching stories about tsunami victims on the news, 9-year-old Jang was compelled to take action on a personal and individual level.

She organized a giant garage sale with friends Emily, Preston, Jenna, Zach, Dalton and Candice. The “Garage Sale for the Waves” raised $1,658.97 to support American Red Cross tsunami relief efforts. Most items sold for about $1.

“Whenever you hear about bad things that happen, like the tsunami, I’ve always wanted to help but never really actually did it,” Jessica said. “Now that I have, doing a big project like this is much harder than you think. But, in the end, all the hard work was worth it.”

– Ryan Russell of Lacey was named a Law Enforcement Hero for saving a woman from a burning building.

Russell, a sheriff’s deputy, received a report of a house fire near Yelm. Upon his arrival, Russell saw a trailer on fire, with black smoke and flames billowing from the doors and windows. He talked to the homeowner, who had just arrived at the scene, and learned that the man’s wife was inside.

He peered through the doorway and couldn’t see anyone through the thick smoke. He ran toward the back of the trailer and saw the woman unconscious and unresponsive through a small window. He returned to the front door, braving considerable heat and smoke, and brought the woman to safety.

– Littlerock Fire Rescue members were named Animal Rescue Heroes for saving a horse.

On Feb. 29, 2004, a call came to the volunteer rescue team that a 30-year-old horse was stuck in the mud on its side. In order to avoid serious respiratory complications, the distressed animal needed to be uprighted immediately.

Heavy equipment was required. Members of the rescue team placed blankets around the horse to keep it warm. While calming the animal, they began to shift the horse’s weight to help it stand. With 10 to 20 people assisting, the horse was brought to its feet.

Rescuers were Tom Berryman, Tom Culleton, Tom Fitzgerald, Ken Frasl, Blake Kaleiwahea, Alex Kalmikov, Cheryl Krouse, George Krouse, Kathy Manor, John Ridgeway and Gary Stone.

– Reinhard Friesl and Rita and Angela Brengan of Olympia were named Fire Safety Heroes for saving lives during a fire at the Olympia Apartments.

Friesl, the building maintenance worker, awoke Aug. 15 to the sound of fire alarms. He rushed to the fire alarm and found indicator lights flashing on the sixth floor.

He ran upstairs and found smoke filling the hallway. He saw resident Tom Seefeld emerging from his apartment in his wheelchair. Friesl pushed Seefeld through dense smoke to the elevator and sent him down below to safety. He then returned to the hallway and helped eight other residents use the fire escape. His attempts to get the residents out of the apartment where the fire started were unsuccessful.

Rita Brengan, the apartment manager’s mother, was awakened by her granddaughter, Angela. Together, they helped other residents evacuate.

– Heather Parker and Trace Strickland of Shelton were named Humanitarian Adult Heroes for helping victims in an auto accident.

On Feb. 7, Parker and Strickland were driving south in separate vehicles on U.S. Highway 101. As they approached the Shelton-Matlock Road interchange, they watched in horror as an approaching northbound vehicle lost control on an icy overpass, crossed into their lane and collided with the vehicle in front of theirs.

Both pulled to the side of the road, and Parker called 9-1-1. They went up to the collision and found a young boy on the shoulder who had been thrown from one of the vehicles.

Parker checked to see if the boy was breathing. He wasn’t, and she was unable to detect a pulse. Without hesitation, she began chest compressions, then breaths of air while Strickland, also trained in first aid, took over on the chest compressions. They continued until medics arrived and took over.

Though the boy did not survive because of fatal injuries from the collision, Parker and Strickland kept their heads and helped a family in a horrible situation.

– Lon Bickler of Enumclaw and Lloyd Long of Aberdeen were named Medical Rescue Heroes for saving a man on the side of the road.

On April 13, 2004, Bickler and Long were traveling near Brinnon as members of the Bonneville Power Association’s Olympia line crew.

As they passed a tractor-trailer, they saw a man on the ground.

While Bickler checked the victim’s breathing and pulse, Long called 9-1-1 on his cell phone.

Long remembered that they had a defibrillator in the vehicle, and they were advised to use it. They continued CPR until a medic helicopter arrived to take the man to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

– Jayson Haury of Olympia was named Humanitarian Youth Hero for saving his best friend, Adam Peters, from drowning last summer.

Jayson and Adam were playing and having fun in the pool. They were swimming back and forth when Adam started having trouble. Jayson, who was only 5 years old, saw him struggling to stay afloat in the deep end.

Remembering what he had learned during swimming lessons, Jayson recognized the signs and calmly reached for Adam’s hand. He offered Adam one of the extra flotation devices and helped him swim to safety.

Sheriff’s Department hails man who saved girl from sex crime

A businessman who saved a teenage girl from being sexually assaulted as she walked to school in Industry was hailed as a hero Wednesday by the sheriff’s department.

Michael Carr intervened about 7 a.m. March 11 when he heard the 14-year-old girl’s screams near his business in the 16400 block of Kaplan Avenue.

“If not for Mr. Carr’s willingness to assist the victim, the suspect would have been able to complete his assault,’ said sheriff’s Capt. Margaret Wagner.

The Sheriff’s Department presented Carr with a commendation at the Industry Station.

On the morning of the attack, the girl was walking to school when a man who remains at large grabbed her and dragged her about 100 feet to an area behind a garbage bin in an alley.

Carr, who had gone to work early that day, said afterward that he’d heard “something going on in the alley, a young girl screaming.’

“So I came out and didn’t see anything; so I go over to the Dumpster area and he’s got her by the neck and he’s strangling her,’ he said then. “So I did what anybody would do. I grabbed him and pull him off her. She just ran because she was terrified and I got him to the ground and was holding him.’

As he was trying to call to his employees for help and dial 9-1-1, the suspect got away.

Some of Carr’s employees began chasing the suspect, but after a couple of blocks, the man jumped into a full-size white van and drove off north on Echelon Avenue.

The assailant was described as a Latino man in his 30s, 5 feet 3 inches tall, 140 to 150 pounds, with thinning dark hair.

Anyone who knows his whereabouts was urged to call sheriff’s detectives at (866) 247-5877 or (323) 526-5541.

River Rescue Hero Honoured

A man who has saved more than 1,500 people from drowning in the River Clyde will be presented with a special lifetime award today by Princess Alexandria.

George Parsonage, 61, has rowed a boat on the river to rescue men, women and children in danger of drowning since 1979.

He will be presented with a special silver medal in honour of his work from the Princess, who is president of the Royal Humane Society.

Mr Parsonage took over the running of the Glasgow Humane Society from his father in 1979.

His life-saving work is carried out in conjunction with Strathclyde Police. The Glasgow Humane Society was founded in 1790 as a lifeboat service to rescue people from drowning in the Clyde, and recover the bodies of those drowned.

Its original base was in a house at the edge of Glasgow Green, nicknamed “The Dead Hoose”, but this was demolished in the late 30s.

The Society has always been a family business with George Geddes manning the boat between 1859 and 1899, until his son, another George, took over until his death during a rescue attempt in 1931.

He was then replaced by Ben Parsonage, who served until his death in 1979, and was succeeded by the current George Parsonage.

Mr Parsonage will receive his award at The Royal Humane Society’s Annual General Court at Haberdashers’ Hall in London.

The Royal Humane Society has been giving awards for bravery and lifesaving since 1774 and is one of the UK’s oldest bravery awards organisations.

Monday, Apr. 11, 2005

Daughter recalls mom as an ‘everyday hero’

More than a year after her death, a Winnipeg woman was remembered as a hero who lived life to the fullest. “My mom was an everyday hero. Not the swoop-in-and-save-the-world Superman kind of hero, but an everyday hero,” said Kirsten Albo, daughter of Diane Kroeker, who died while reaching out to help someone in danger of drowning in the Pacific Ocean.

Musical tribute

A musical tribute to Kroeker was held at St. John’s Cathedral yesterday afternoon, attracting more than 150 people to the service.

“She drowned saving the life of someone else, she was our hero,” said Albo. “If you looked up the word love in the dictionary, you should see a picture of my mom.”

The 60-year-old Winnipeg mother and grandmother was leading a tour with a local Mennonite university in Guatemala on Feb. 29, 2004, when she drowned.

Kroeker was devoted to the Central Mennonite Universities program that helped university-aged students travel to other parts of the world to study and take part in spiritual adventures.

The family wants Kroeker’s memory and generous spirit to live on and have initiated a project that will help bring musical instruments and motorbike repair equipment to Uganda.

Uganda Project

Coined the Uganda Project, the Kroeker family wants to raise $25,000 for the project, which would also help build a computer literacy centre and provide resources that help boys and girls in Uganda excel in academic and skill development.

There will be a fundraising social on June 10 at the Waverley Heights Community Centre to raise funds for the project.

Young Boy Hailed as Hero

A seven year-old boy is being hailed as a hero after he led his two younger brothers to safety. The three boys were left home alone in an apartment in Burtonsville’s Knight’s Bridge apartment complex when a fire broke out in their second floor apartment.

The seven year-old led his four and five year-old brothers to an apartment next door and an adult led the boys and several other children to safety.

A spokesman for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Department says the blaze apparently began in the kitchen.

The fire caused an estimated 100,000 dollars damage to the apartment complex in thee 3300 block of Teagarden Circle.

The boys’ mother said she left the apartment for no more than 20 minutes to call a babysitter who had not arrived.

Monday, Mar. 21, 2005

Local volunteer honored as 2005 Firefighter of the Year

Because volunteering seems so natural to Joe Goodrich, he was a little uncomfortable being singled out March 13 for a statewide honor.

“I’m just glad that I am able to talk with children and teach them things that could save their lives,” Goodrich said as he tried to get used to being the 2005 Firefighter of the Year chosen by the Maryland State Council of the Knights of Columbus.

The plaque he received reads “in recognition of many years of assistance and protection of the citizens and community, and dedication to fire safety classes for youth.”

Goodrich, who is active at the Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co. as a lieutenant and at Children’s Village of Washington County as an instructor, went to Severna Park, Md., for the ceremony with his wife, two children, his parents and other family members.

“My grandfather, William Goodrich, is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and he got the application,” Goodrich said. With help from Maugansville Fire Chief Phil Ridenour, the application was submitted.

Goodrich, 41, started volunteering at the Washington County Civil Defense station when he was 14 years old. When he turned 16, he joined both the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway and the Williamsport Volunteer Fire Co.

“In 1990, I moved into Maugansville’s area so I started running with Maugansville,” Goodrich said. He said he maintains his friendships with the volunteers from his previous companies.

“I have been with Children’s Village since the beginning,” Goodrich said. He teaches at least once a month there and would like to see that increase.

He said the curriculum at Children’s Village provides one day of education each for fire and police lessons, directed at second-graders in Washington County and beyond. He would like to see the fire portion increased to two days because he feels there is so much that children need to know.

In addition to running with Maugansville on fire calls, Goodrich is also seeing that children in that community are being taught fire prevention.

“I do the safety camp at Maugansville,” he said.

A committee was formed in 2004 to make the idea a reality. Two camps were held last year; each was three nights from 6 to 8 p.m. for children in grades 2 to 6.

Washington County Sheriff’s deputies joined in with a section on bicycle safety, Goodrich said.

“Last year, we also burned a car and narrated so the kids would understand how fire operates,” he said.

When Goodrich asked for help with the camp last year, 20 or more people showed up, he said. Many of those were young people who are going to school while training to become firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

“They deserve recognition, too,” he said.

Right now, the Maugansville volunteers are absorbing the cost of safety camp, which includes T-shirts for all who participate. Goodrich said he has written a grant proposal for $32,000 to $35,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funds for interactive equipment and computer models.

“Children are at a disadvantage … they only know what adults teach them,” he said.

Sunday, Mar. 20, 2005

Area hospital workers named ‘Health Care Heroes’

Ten health care employees from six area hospitals were recently named “Health Care Heroes” by the Alabama Hospital Association Southwest Council at a luncheon held in Mobile.

Recognized at the program for outstanding service to Alabama’s hospital patients were:

Andy Baranski, medical technologist at the University of South Alabama Children’s and Women’s Hospital; Sister Mary Elizabeth Cullen, vice president of Mission Services at Providence Hospital; Pat Drew, nurse manager at Springhill Medical Center;

Also, Norma E. Eubanks, social worker at North Baldwin Infirmary; Jennifer Jackson, licensed practical nurse at Evergreen Medical Center; Elizabeth Naman, nurse manager at Springhill Medical Center; Sandra Pickens, Education Department secretary at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital;

Also, Dr. Mark A. Roberts, family practitioner at Evergreen Medical Center; Phyllis F. Tate, director of clinical education and diabetes at Thomas Hospital; and Paul J. Tomlinson, assistant manager of the intensive care unit at Springhill Medical Center.

“These are men and women who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in serving their patients,” said Stan Hammack, chairman of the Alabama Hospital Association. “They represent well the mission of hospitals to heal and provide comfort, and we are pleased to be able to honor them.”

The Alabama Hospital Association Southwest Council’s “Health Care Heroes” contest was one of seven regional contests held throughout the state. The regional winners will also compete in a statewide “Health Care Heroes” contest, where seven people, one winner from each region, will be chosen as Alabama’s Health Care Heroes and honored at a special event in Montgomery in May.

The regional and state “Health Care Heroes” contest is sponsored by the Alabama Hospital Association, along with the association’s seven regional hospital councils, in an effort to highlight the people who work in health care and to encourage others to consider a career in this field.

The Alabama Hospital Association is a trade organization located in Montgomery whose mission is to support hospitals in their efforts to provide quality health care to Alabama’s citizens.

Saturday, Mar. 19, 2005

Man earns Carnegie Hero Award

Brave act saved two lives.

A Cardington man was among the 15 people that were to be honored Thursday with Carnegie Medals for heroism for acts including rescuing neighbors from burning homes, dragging injured motorists out of their burning cars and pushing a drowning woman to safety.

Among the honorees is Kevin Crowley, of Cardington in Morrow County, who the foundation said dragged two men from a burning car after a traffic accident in Mount Vernon, Ohio.

Crowley saved Garrett M. Bowers and Lawrence W. Ashman from burning in Mount Vernon, Ohio, on Jan. 17, 2004. Garrett, 17, remained in the driver’s seat, and Lawrence, 17, in the front passenger seat, of a car that caught fire after a car accident. Crowley, 47, a passenger in the other car involved in the accident, dragged the two men from the burning car. All three survived.

The foundation said two of the other three Ohioan honorees saved people from burning houses, while the fourth saved a man from drowning in an icy pool of water.

The Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund Commission meets five times a year to choose heroes, who are brought to its attention through newspaper clips or tips to the commission’s Web site.

Industrialist Andrew Carnegie started a hero fund in 1904 after being inspired by rescue stories from a mine disaster that killed 181 people. Those awarded the bronze medal and $3,500 are announced five times a year. Since the fund was established, 8,884 people have received the medals and $27.7 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits and continuing assistance.

The other Ohio heroes are:

tMatthew Nickels, of Dayton, Ohio, honored for saving Kendall Hock from drowning on Jan. 24, 2004. Kendall, 7, broke through ice that was partially covering a water-filled gravel pit. Driving past the pit, Nickels, 40, called 911 before racing on the ice, where he broke through but was able to push Kendall out of the way. Nickels was rescued by emergency crews. They both survived.

# Damion DeRobbio, of Struthers, Ohio, honored for helping to rescue Mackenzie N. Palmer from burning in Pulaski, Pa., on April 22, 2004. Mackenzie, 6, was in a bedroom of her family’s one-story house after fire broke out. DeRobbio, a neighbor, was alerted to the fire and entered the home through a window. He crawled to Mackenzie’s bed and helped her out of the window. They both survived.

# Kevin R. Minehart, of Columbus, Ohio, honored for rescuing Mark A. and James S. Boyd from burning in Columbus on Jan. 26, 2004. Mark, 3, and his grandfather, Boyd, 64, lay unconscious in a ground-floor bedroom of their home after fire broke out. Minehart, 29, was driving by and saw the fire. He broke a window in the bedroom and went in the house. He carried the boy to the window and dragged Boyd to the window. All three survived.

Friday, Mar. 18, 2005

County recognizes heroes for selfless deeds

Selfless acts by everyday heroes among us were recognized Thursday at the Alameda County Community Heroes Breakfast, sponsored by the American Red Cross and the Oakland Fire Department.

The event, held at the Oakland Airport Hilton, honored several Bay Area people and organizations for their good deeds and work helping others.

One honoree was James Morman of Oakland. On this past Christmas Day,
he saw flames coming from a neighbor’s house and called 9-1-1, then climbed a tree, kicked in an upstairs window, crawled into the burning room and saved a young girl.

Albert Ybarra of Dublin received an award for saving a 3-year-old boy last September after an accident on the San Mateo Bridge. In stopped traffic, he saw a woman running hysterically across the lanes, and he got out of his car. A man with a small boy was struggling
in the water below, so Ybarra jumped in, followed closely by Salvador Augustin of Menlo Park. They got the man and the 3-year-old boy to the bridge, where people began throwing ropes, straps and found a tow-truck to pull them up.

Quick thinking also earned W. Isaac Simons of Oakland an award. He rushed into smoky hallways when fire broke out in his apartment building last year. He found the fire hose, and with help from fellow tenant Joe McAneny, unwrapped it and turned on the nozzle, pouring water on the flames until firefighters arrived.

Leslie and Daniel Troutner of Oakland were honored for their loving assistance of 9-year-old Saleh Khalaf and his family, helping them adapt to American life and find housing. Saleh is the Iraqi boy who nearly died in a bomb blast in his homeland, and was brought to Children’s Hospital Oakland for care. Leslie Troutner was working as a hospital ward clerk and developed a special bond with Saleh.

Also honored were high-school student Victoria Kim, who received an award for her extensive community service; Nina Tanner-Smith, for running the nonprofit Oakland Parent Teacher Children Center; the Hayward-based Emergency Shelter Program, serving victims of domestic violence; Pixar Animation Studios, for its ongoing support of community programs in Emeryville; and Hopalong Animal Rescue.

Thursday, Mar. 17, 2005

Red Cross honors local heroes

As the bagpiper signaled the start of the procession of local heroes into the ballroom at Cherry Valley Lodge on Wednesday, 6-year-old Secoya Bair, of Newark, plugged her ears.

Kayla Duvall, 9, Newark, reached down for the little girl’s hand and helped her lead the line of eight people being honored at the third annual Heroes’ Breakfast for the Red Cross. Reaching the front of the room, the local heroes stood quietly while the audience applauded their accomplishments.

The 2005 Hometown Heroes’ Breakfast honors selected individuals from the community who have gone above and beyond ordinary duty. These people exhibit courage, initiative, compassion, personal responsibility and heroic actions which have saved lives or demonstrated an unusual degree of unselfish character. Each of the heroes served the community either by showing extraordinary courage, making life easier and more comfortable for others or inspiring others.

Duvall, a third-grader at Madison Elementary, received the Youth Hero award for her unselfish act of collecting items for the troops overseas and for the homeless, instead of accepting birthday presents.

Paul Collier, interim principal at Utica High School, received the education award for more than 35 years of dedication to students in several school districts.

Johnny John received the senior hero award for unselfishly serving Thanksgiving dinners to people in need for 19 years.

Licking Memorial Hospital’s Loretta McCollum was honored for her development of the Diabetes Self-Management Training program, Putting the Pieces Together.

Firefighter David Decker received a plaque for his courageous rescue of a victim of a house fire. Six other firefighters received a certificate for their assistance in this act of heroism, including Doug Vermaaten, Tom O’Brien, Vince Wallar, Greg Coffman, Mike Swearingen and Bill Spurgeon.

Secoya Bair received a certificate of extraordinary personal action for saving her grandmother from drowning in the bathtub after she had experienced a seizure.

Rick Grove, 52, of Newark, was recognized for his volunteer work in numerous charities, including Big Brothers/ Big Sisters, serving as a United Way campaign committee member at Owens Corning Science & Technology center and helping the Homeward Bound Humane Society.

Grove founded the Spirits in the Wind charity ride 10 years ago as a way to honor his closest friend, Barry Diller, who died in December 1995. Each year, he organizes the poker run and cooks for the hundreds of people who participate. The event has raised more than $100,000 for the local chapter of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Recently, Grove became an active contributor supplying care packages for many of the Armed Forces in Iraq.

“I don’t do this for the recognition,” Grove said, “although I do appreciate it. I try to give back to the community and help the less fortunate.”

Granville Village Manager Joe Hickman, 47, humbly accepted the workplace hero award for his actions during the recent ice storm. He worked tirelessly day and night to ensure that the community residents and his employees had warm meals, places to stay and safe roads. Hickman helped plow the roads, clear the streets of debris, carried firewood and helped serve food to others.

“It is very humbling when you see the other recipients up here,” Hickman said. “I am pretty sure there are people more deserving than myself. It is just what we (village managers) do.”

The executive director for the local Red Cross, Rod Cook, enjoys hearing the stories of each hero.

“We don’t think enough of these good stories get out,” Cook said. “Again this year, we had some outstanding stories to tell.”

The breakfast also serves as a fund-raiser for the Licking County Chapter of the American Red Cross, supporting disaster relief and financial assistance programs throughout the county, said Board Chairman Lisa Perkey, of Newark.

The breakfast was started three years ago and has grown every year. But more importantly, the event gives the Red Cross and the community a chance to honor these local people who might otherwise go unnoticed.

“For me, a hero is not defined by words in a dictionary, but by actions and intentions,” Perkey said. “A hero doesn’t think about saving or changing another person’s life. A hero just does. A hero doesn’t plan to make a difference. They just do.”

15 named as recipients of Carnegie Hero medals

These are the 15 people who were named Carnegie Heroes by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission:

_Matthew Nickels of Dayton, Ohio, is honored for saving seven-year-old Kendall Hock from drowning on January 24th, 2004. Kendall broke through ice that was partially covering a water-filled gravel pit. Driving past the pit, Nickels called 9-1-1 before racing on the ice, where he broke through but was able to push Kendall out of the way. The 40-year-old rescuer was, himself, rescued by emergency crews. They both survived.

_Damion DeRobbio of Struthers, Ohio, is honored for helping to rescue six-year-old Mackenzie Palmer from burning in Pulaski, Pennsylvania, on April 22nd, 2004. Mackenzie was in a bedroom of her family’s one-story house after fire broke out. DeRobbio, a neighbor, was alerted to the fire and entered the home through a window. He crawled to Mackenzie’s bed and helped her out of the window. They both survived.

_Karl Vaartjes of Ontario, Canada, is honored for rescuing Deborah Fowler and Ryland Jacobs from an attacking dog in Mississauga, Ontario, on December Eighth, 2003. The 36-year-old Fowler and her four-year-old son, Ryland, were playing in the front yard of their house when a 45-pound pit bull and another dog approached and attacked them. The 43-year-old Vaartjes struggled with the dog long enough that Fowler and her son were able to run away. All three survived.

_Kevin James Crowley of Cardington, Ohio, is honored for saving Garrett Bowers and Lawrence Ashman from burning in Mount Vernon, Ohio, on January 17th, 2004. Garrett, 17, remained in the driver’s seat and Lawrence, 17, in the front passenger seat of a car that caught fire after a car accident. Crowley, 47, was a passenger in the other car involved in the accident. He dragged the two men from the burning car. All three survived.

_Frank L. Jackson, of Bethesda, Maryland, is honored for helping to save Pavel Hruban from drowning in Potomac, Maryland, on September 21st, 2003. Hruban, 24, entered the Potomac River in Mather Gorge to swim, despite the extremely turbulent water and was pulled downstream. Jackson, 19, was in a kayak when he saw Hruban struggling. He went downstream to help Hruban. He ended up overturning in his kayak but Hruban held on to it long enough to reach shore. They both survived.

_Frank L. Hubbard of Goldston, North Carolina, is honored for rescuing Terry Thompson from burning in Sanford, North Carolina, on March Eleventh, 2004. Thompson, 60, was unconscious in the driver’s seat of a pickup truck after it collided with a tractor-trailer at an intersection and caught on fire. Hubbard, 43, was the driver of the tractor-trailer. He dragged Thompson from the pickup and away from the wreckage. Both survived.

_Mark Richard Bradley of Braintree, Massachusetts, is honored for saving Catherine O’Connor from assault in Braintree, Massachusetts, on August 28th, 2003. O’Connor, 43, was stopped in her car in traffic on a highway off-ramp when two men approached her vehicle, got in and pointed a gun at her. Bradley, 31, saw what happened and used his car to push O’Connor’s car against a guardrail so it was stuck there. The assailants fled but were caught days later.

_Christopher Cranford, of Humble, Texas, is honored for rescuing a woman from a runaway automobile in Houston on November 14th, 2003. A 47-year-old woman was the passenger of an automobile being driven on a beltway when the car was struck by a tire from a tractor-trailer. The driver of the car was killed instantly, and the car continued out-of-control. Cranford, 18, was behind the car and saw the passenger struggling to gain control of the car. Cranford struck the back of her car and was able to bring both cars to a stop. The passenger was not injured.

_Ralph Sumner Junior of Kinston, North Carolina, is honored for helping rescue Gary Coombs from burning in Kinston, North Carolina, on Christmas Day, 2003. Coombs, 51, was unconscious on the floor of a bedroom after fire erupted in his mobile home. Sumner, 51, saw smoke coming from the building, entered the home and crawled through until he found Coombs and pulled him to the door, where others helped them both out. Coombs had severe burns and died five days later.

_Steve J. Sciortino of Colusa, California, is honored for saving Richard Delafuente from burning in Colusa, California, on November 19th, 2003. Delafuente, 35, lay semiconscious inside his car after a nighttime accident in which the vehicle overturned and caught fire. Sciortino, 51, called 9-1-1 and then ran to the car, where he pulled Delafuente out and to safety. Both men survived.

_James W. Rodin of Pismo Beach, California, and Alejandro J. Munoz of Fontana, California, are honored for rescuing Frances Coon from burning in San Lucas, California, on January 16th, 2004. Coon, 46, was the front-seat passenger in a sport utility vehicle that crashed and caught fire. Rodin, 41, and Munoz, 31, both passing motorists, removed her from the car. All three survived.

_Kevin R. Minehart of Columbus, Ohio, is honored for rescuing Mark and James Boyd from burning in Columbus on January 26th, 2004. Mark, 3, and his grandfather, Boyd, 64, lay unconscious in a ground-floor bedroom of their home after fire broke out. Minehart, 29, was driving by and saw the fire. He broke a window in the bedroom and went in the house. He carried the boy to the window and dragged Boyd to the window. All three survived.

_Robert L. Pryor of Ridgeley, West Virginia, and Howard R. Talbott of Bedford, Pennsylvania, are honored for attempting to save Deborah Whiteman from being struck by a moving vehicle in Wiley Ford, West Virginia, on January 14th, 2004. Whiteman, 50, was trapped inside her pickup truck, which overturned after an accident. Pryor, 66, and Talbott, 61, both passing motorists, stopped and worked to free the woman. As they worked, a truck approached in the same lane and Pryor shouted a warning. The truck struck the pickup, knocking it on its roof. Whiteman and Pryor had minor injuries and recovered. Talbott was seriously injured but survived.

Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2005

Children’s Miracle Network honors resilient boy

The 11-year-old boy didn’t say much Tuesday afternoon, but he sure was smiling.

Todd Daniels of Trout Creek was honored at Missoula’s Costco store, where he received presents and ate pizza and cake with family and friends as a sendoff to Washington, D.C., where he’ll be one of the Children’s Miracle Network’s 50 Foresters Champions Across America.

Todd will leave Wednesday to visit the Capitol and meet with U.S. senators. The next day, he travels to Orlando, Fla., to see Walt Disney World, where he will again be honored.

Todd will be accompanied to Washington by his foster mother, Becky Barrus; his foster brother, Barrack Brawn; and social worker Leona Priest.

When asked when he’ll return, Todd quickly said: “A week and a day. I’ve got that memorized.”

Costco donates money to the Children’s Miracle Network, which in turn donates to the Shodair Children’s Hospital in Helena.

“I like (it when) things we do make a difference,” said Doug Homer, Costco’s general manager.

Todd was treated at Shodair for bipolar and attention deficit/hyperactive disorders. He first entered the hospital in 2002 and again in 2003. He was discharged in the spring of 2004.

The Champions Across America program honors children who have persevered despite severe medical challenges.

“Todd never gave up. Even when things weren’t going his way, he was always ready to try again,” said Dr. James Killpack, a psychiatrist at Shodair.

Todd is a foster child at the Open Gate Ranch, where 10 other boys also live. Barrus and her husband, Craig, operate the ranch, which Barrus’ foster father started some 20 years ago.

The ranch is licensed for eight foster children, but Barrus and her husband also care for three adopted children.

Barrus thinks Todd has had his difficulties since birth.

“Normally,” she said, “they don’t show up until adulthood.”

He has a hard time focusing and Barrus said she thinks abuse by his birth parents contributed to that. He also was afraid that men – and his dad – would beat him, she said.

“He wouldn’t take off his coat or backpack,” Barrus said. “He was afraid someone would take it.”

Barrus credits Shodair with his progress. He’s finally in a family now that “Shodair helped him get over that anger,” she said.

Before his trips to Shodair, Todd had more than 20 psychiatric hospitalizations, beginning at age 4.

His difficulties arose in part from birth trauma, doctors said.

At the party Tuesday, Amy Hanser, business development director at Costco, offered her own words of encouragement to Todd.

“Have a great trip,” she said.

“I will,” Todd promised.

Heroes honored at breakfast

The American Red Cross of Knox County honored 10 local heroes at its annual Heroes Breakfast on Tuesday at The Dan Emmett Conference Center.

Candidates for the honor are nominated for a single act or ongoing single act of heroism performed in the past year.

This year’s Youth Hero of the Year was presented by Douglas Brenneman of Brenneman Lumber Co. to 12-year-old Jordan Montgomery for instinctively grabbing his younger sister from her bed before running out of their house that was on fire last year.

“With no shirt and no shoes, he took Maddie out through the ice and snow to the car. Then he came back to the porch and got his other sister. While we drove away from the house he put his arms around his sisters and held them to keep them calm,” said his mother. “I didn’t think about how brave he was to act on his own until later.”

Fredericktown police officer Lt. Jay Sheffer was recognized as Public Safety Hero of the Year for saving the life of an accident victim. Responding to an accident call, Sheffer arrived on the scene to find the victim not breathing. He used a portable automated external defibrillator to bring the victim back to life.

“He saved the man before the squad arrived,” said Jerry Day, police chief of Fredericktown. The award was presented to him by Ian Watson of First-Knox National Bank.

Senior Adult Hero Charles Waddell was honored by Brad Walls of Ariel Corp. for his creative acts of kindness to other seniors. Nominated by the staff of The Inn at HillenVale, Waddell sets up his shoe shine stand there once a month, shining shoes and carrying on conversations with the residents. During an old-fashioned days event last year, Waddell set up his stand and shined shoes the entire day.

Joe Sellers, Red Cross board member and Kokosing Construction Co.’s safety officer, presented the Workplace Hero award to two Kokosing Construction employees, Brad Rice and Mark Moore. Rice gave CPR and resuscitation to a co-worker after they were both shocked while moving a wire rope. Rice has been trained in Red Cross CPR as part of his supervisor training at Kokosing.

Moore was making deliveries in the Mansfield area one day when he witnessed a minivan roll down an embankment and burst into flames. Acting quickly, Moore grabbed the fire extinguisher from his truck and helped put out the fire. He used his pocket knife to cut the seat belt and free the passenger in the van.

“Of three of us stopping to help, I was the only one carrying a knife,” Moore said.

The Education Hero of the Year was presented by LeBron Fairbanks, president of Mount Vernon Nazarene University, to Holly Tetlow for her unselfish commitment to tutoring a homebound critically ill student. The student, Joseph Kasper, and his mother, Teresa, nominated Tetlow, saying that it was mental therapy as well as scholastically helpful for Tetlow to tutor Joseph while he underwent treatment for leukemia.

“She would come to the house three times a week to work with him. Her car was a school on wheels. She really went above and beyond to help him keep in touch with his classmates and school work,” said Teresa.

Lynn Jurkowitz was named the 2005 Community Hero Award, presented by Larry Speece of Weyerhaeuser Corp. Jurkowitz plays piano, sings and entertains at senior centers in the area. She was nominated by Sue Waddell of Country Club Retirement Campus, who said, “She does so many special things for our community and she is always just a phone call away.”

Drs. Tracy Sherman and Dr. Barry George were presented with the Health Care Heroes of the Year after they teamed up to provide extraordinary care to a patient to diagnose and treat his heart ailment following a routine stress test. In a testimonial from the patient, Sherman paid a house call to the patient at 11 p.m. after he had failed to return his call that day. Upon discussion and review of test results, Sherman referred the man to his medical school classmate, George. The next day George called the patient from where he was vacationing in Florida and promised to treat him as soon as possible upon returning to the Ohio.

“They found a 99.9 percent blockage in an artery that supplies 80 percent of the blood to the heart,” the patient said. Because of the physicians’ actions, the patient was able to go on a planned Boy Scout hike in Arizona with his son.

Hero of all heroes, Helen Zelkowitz was honored by the American Red Cross Board of Directors as the “Above and Beyond” hero of the year for her overwhelming, unselfish and long-term service to the Knox County community.

“In 1933 at the age of 22, Helen moved to Mount Vernon with her husband, Charles,” said Dave Gore, executive director of the Knox County Red Cross. Both became active in community organizations, including the local Red Cross and started the radio stations, WKIO and WMVO.

“During the floods of 1959, she camped out at the radio station for three days, providing a valuable service of communication to the residents of Knox County,” said Gore. Zelkowitz was the first woman chairman of the United Way in Knox County and, according to Gore, has served on every agency board in the community.

“She is truly a cornerstone and member of our community,” he said. Upon receiving her award, Zelkowitz said, “When you start believing your own publicity, it’s the wrong road to take. I thank you for this award.”

Winners of the Youth Art Contest and their artwork were also recognized at the breakfast. In grades kindergarten through third, first place went to Erica Browning, third grade; second place to Kyle Lambert, second grade; and third place went to Maria Kirchner, third grade.

In grades four through six, first place went to Courtney Anne Browning, fifth grade; second place to Jessica Pitzer, fifth grade; and third place to Courtney Sparks, fifth grade.

First place for grades 10 through 12 was Ashley Marich.

Hero bobby to the rescue

A brave bobby is being hailed as a “hero” after he rescued a four-year-old boy from a burning house.

PC Iain Morrison, 39, acted after the boy was left stranded upstairs in his home in Whitefoot Terrace, Downham.

Now police and fire chiefs have united in their praise of the Catford-based dog handler.

PC Morrison was in the area on Friday afternoon. He was on a routine patrol when he spotted smoke coming from inside the terraced house.

The boy’s mother, who was standing outside with her six year-old daughter, then alerted him her son was still in the building.

PC Morrison burst into the house and fought his way through the thick smoke.

He heard the screams of the boy and grabbed his arm, before passing him through an upstairs window to waiting firefighters.

He said: “It was frightening. The heat was intense and I couldn’t see a thing.

“For a while I did panic because I could not see the boy but then I heard him shout, so I grabbed him and took him to the window.

“I was there wearing my uniform and in the heat of the moment people expect you to do something but when I got inside I was worried I had bitten off more than I could chew.”

The modest police officer of 18 years added: “There are plenty of people who would have done the same thing.

“The fire brigade did a brilliant job. At the end of the day they put the fire out.”

A neighbour said: “The policeman did a blinding job. We could see the kid hanging out of the window and we all thought he was dead.

“It was amazing. My husband was going to go in to help but I wouldn’t let him.”

The two children and PC Morrison were treated for smoke inhalation but no-one was seriously injured.

Fire crews from Downham, Beckenham and Lee Green were called to the scene and put the fire out within 45 minutes.

Downham station commander Roger Willmore paid tribute to PC Morrison, calling him “a hero”.

Lewisham police’s Inspector Henry Davies, who was on duty at the time of the fire, added the PC had acted “in the best traditions of the Metropolitan Police”.

Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2005

Ten heroes to be honored

The American Red of Knox County will be honoring 10 local heroes at its annual Heroes Breakfast on March 15 at 7:30 a.m. at The Dan Emmett Conference Center.

This year’s Youth Hero of the Year, sponsored by the Brenneman Lumber Co., will be bestowed upon 12-year-old Jordan Montgomery in honor of his bravery and courage.

The First-Knox National Bank will be paying tribute to the Public Safety Hero of the Year, Fredericktown police officer Lt. Jay Sheffer, for his life-saving actions.

Senior Adult Hero Charles Waddle will be honored by Ariel Corp. for his creative acts of kindness to other seniors.

Kokosing Construction Co. will bestow the Workplace Hero of the Year on two individuals, Brad Rice and Mark Moore, who during the course of employment on two separate occasions saved the life of another person.

Education Hero of the Year, sponsored by the Mount Vernon Nazarene University, will be presented to Holly Tetlow for her unselfish commitment to the education of a critically ill student.

The Weyerhaeuser Corp. will honor Lynn Jurkowitz, Community Hero of the Year, for her unfailing creative dedication to brightening the lives of others.

Knox Community Hospital will have honor two of its own as Health Care Heroes of the Year. Dr. Tracy Shermer and Dr. Barry George teamed up through a host of extraordinary measures to save the life of a member of the community.

Hero of all heroes, Helen Zelkowitz, will be honored by the American Red Cross Board of Directors as the “Above and Beyond” hero of the year for her overwhelming, unselfish and long-term of the Knox County community and its citizen, organizations and businesses.

Monday, Mar. 14, 2005

Fire heroes save two seniors

Brooklyn firefighters charged through flames and thick smoke to pluck two elderly women – one of them an unconscious 99-year-old – from their bedrooms in separate fires yesterday, officials said.

The heroic rescues in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bensonhurst came less than six hours apart and left both women in stable condition.

“When I came home and I saw my daughter smile, it made me even happier that I saved somebody’s mother,” Firefighter Joseph Wakie of Ladder 132 told the Daily News.

About 1:30 a.m., Wakie and fellow Firefighter Zackary Fletcher were inching down a pitch-black hallway in an apartment building on Classon Ave. near Fulton St., Bedford-Stuyvesant.

They were searching for 83-year-old Viola Waldron, whose son standing outside told firefighters she never made it out of the first-floor flat.

“I only saw 4 inches in front of my face,” said Wakie, 33, a five-year FDNY veteran. “I tried to wipe my mask, but I still couldn’t see anything.”

He eventually found a burned Waldron, who lay unconscious on her bed.

“This is a 10-45!” he yelled over the radio, signaling a serious injury.

Wakie and Fletcher then carried out Waldron, who was gasping for air but alive. The mom, who suffered burns on her back, was taken to Kings County Hospital.

Firefighters from Engine 235 had the blaze, which started in Waldron’s kitchen and was likely accidental, under control in 30 minutes.

Later on, at 6:15 a.m., a fast-moving basement fire left Mickelina Devito, 99, unconscious in her bedroom on 76th St. near 18th Ave. in Bensonhurst, fire officials said.

Directed by a relative of Devito, Firefighter John Carlson crawled through an open first-floor window at the rear and quickly discovered the grandmother on her bed.

Nine-year vet Carlson, 35, carried her to the window as Firefighter Brian Mooney and two civilians helped pull her out.

Devito, and four others who escaped from the house, were taken to Maimonides Medical Center in stable condition.

The fire was doused in 45 minutes by firefighters from Engine 243. The cause appeared to be accidental.

Carlson, a Brooklyn husband and father of three assigned to Ladder 168, was modest about his efforts.

“Any other guy would have done the same exact thing,” he said. “It’s being in the right place at the right time.”

Wakie said he was following in the footsteps of his firefighter dad, who died last year from cancer.

“Now I know he’s proud of me,” the Queens husband and father said.

‘Everyday heroes’ give fire victim a new home

House rebuilt by volunteers.

Seared beams and ashes were all that remained after the 2003 Cedar fire roared through Rosemarie Michelsen’s property in Crest.

Yesterday the 80-year-old celebrated the completion of her new, 1,400-square-foot, fire-resistant home.

San Diego Habitat for Humanity rebuilt Michelsen’s home with $85,000 given by the San Diego Foundation After-The-Fire Fund and $10,000 from the Change a Life Foundation, said Kim Cruz, director of development for San Diego Habitat for Humanity.

Michelsen was uninsured because her home at Dehesa Mountain Lane was 50 feet too far from a hydrant.

She expects to move into her new home this week.

Yesterday, during a house blessing ceremony conducted by Habitat staff, Michelsen thanked the 250 volunteers who helped her rebuild. About 50 of them attended the celebration.

“We have had a lot of everyday heroes, the hardworking, unsung, anonymous crew who made a great difference but not a big splash,” Michelsen said. “Thank you for being there when I needed you.”

For Michelsen, it means no more showers that run out of hot water in the cramped trailer the Federal Emergency Management Agency lent her. And she can resume her work as a kinesiologist; her 100 clients have been waiting for her, she said.

“I’m ecstatic,” Michelsen said. “When you are accustomed to having more room, it’s hard to do the things you are used to doing – fixing a meal, filing.”

The one-story house, built with a fire-resistant roof and walls, features a colored concrete floor because Michelsen did not want carpet, which attracts allergens. Cabinets made of nontoxic materials donated by a friend were complemented by a wooden dining table and chairs, also donated by friends.

Michelsen’s home is the first home destroyed during the 2003 fires that San Diego Habitat for Humanity has completed in the county. Eighteen homes on the San Pasqual Indian Reservation are under construction. Permits are being obtained for a house in Descanso and one in Ramona, said Mike Gehl, Habitat’s construction supervisor.

Building at Michelsen’s property began in August. Yesterday, volunteers put the finishing touches on her home, which looks out to a sea of green grass and yellow wildflowers that have sprung up on the once-ravaged landscape.

Michelsen said she knew her house was gone even before she returned home after being evacuated.

She shed no tears, however, said her granddaughter, Monique Quinteros. “She said she wanted to simplify her life and the fire helped her do that.”

Immediately after the Cedar fire, which destroyed more than 2,200 homes in the county, including 296 in Crest, Michelsen lived in her daughter’s mobile home just down the hill. Her daughter’s home had been spared because water from a well was available to douse the flames.

When that mobile home became too inconvenient, Michelsen obtained a FEMA trailer, due to be returned at the end of this month. The federal agency allows its trailers to be used for only 18 months.

She applied to San Diego Habitat for Humanity for help to rebuild but was rejected the first time, said Cheryl Keenan, Habitat’s executive director.

“She was adamant she wanted an environmentally friendly house,” Keenan said. “We didn’t build environmentally friendly houses.”

Then, a contractor selling insulated concrete forms – foam materials that regulate room temperature and resist fire and wind – contacted Habitat for Humanity.

And the effort was on. Habitat also installed a water tank so Michelsen can qualify for homeowners’ insurance.

Yesterday, volunteers were just as gratified as Michelsen.

Driving every day from Chula Vista for three months to help with the reconstruction was the right thing to do, said volunteer Don Hall, a retired Navy chief petty officer.

“It’s beautiful. It’s gorgeous,” he said.

Breakfast will honor community heroes

All of us have heroes in our lives. They are the ones who truly make a difference in our world. They perform great acts of kindness, heroism and compassion. They show courage, spirit, perseverance, commitment, pride and honor. They give of themselves in unexpected and amazing ways. They make our communities better places to live.

The seven heroes are Dr. Griffin Dalianis, Military Hero; Abbie Graves, Youth Hero; Diane Denver, First Responder Hero; Angela Canto, Good Samaritan Hero; Irene Bouchard, Medical Hero; Team Mitch (Lynda Kelly and dog Mitch, and Marcia Donaldson), Community Impact Hero; Steve Hagan, vice president at Oracle Corporation, Greater Nashua & Souhegan Valley Chapter Philanthropist Hero of the Year.

On Tuesday, March 29, the American Red Cross will recognize these seven special individuals from Greater Nashua and the Souhegan Valley area for their heroic accomplishments at the Heroes Breakfast at the Crowne Plaza. Greg Navarro from the New England Cable Network will be the master of ceremonies and Gov. Lynch has been invited to the breakfast.

The American Red Cross provides relief to victims of disaster and helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. The American Red Cross is always there when needed – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The Heroes Breakfast celebrates others who respond when they are needed, people who exemplify the humanitarian mission of the American Red Cross. The breakfast is also a fund-raiser to support the American Red Cross’ local emergency services programs. Kaley Foundation, of Milford, is the lead sponsor for the event.

The American Red Cross received more than 30 nominations. An independent selection committee narrowed the nominations down to seven heroes to be recipients of the 2005 Red Cross Heroes Award in seven separate categories.

Wednesday, Mar. 9, 2005

The sub-zero heroes of the Arctic convoys

Second World War veterans are furious that the men who risked their lives to maintain the vital supply route to the Soviet Union are being denied their own medal. Cahal Milmo retraces the route that defied U-boats, bombers and bitter cold.

Winston Churchill called it “the worst journey in the world”. For every minute of every day, death threatened from the skies and waves as lumbering vessels plodded through 3,000 miles of ocean in temperatures that instantly froze bare skin to metal.

By the end of May 1945, some 3,000 British sailors and merchant seamen had lost their lives and 101 cargo vessels and Royal Navy warships had sunk to the ocean floor during the journey from Iceland past Nazi-occupied Norway to the Soviet ports of Murmansk and Archangel.

As one seaman put it after seeing a British merchant ship carrying ammunition blown apart by a German torpedo in 1943: “There was a dull noise, a dark purple flash and she was gone. That was what we lived in fear of – the sudden violence and the icy water. You knew your chances of surviving either weren’t worth a candle. That was the Arctic convoys.”

Some 64 years after the first Arctic convoy set sail, it is now accepted that the men who undertook these treacherous voyages ensured Russian – and therefore British – survival during the Second World War.

During four years, nearly 1,500 cargo vessels ferried four million tons of supplies to the Red Army, allowing Stalin’s forces to engage the vast majority of Hitler’s forces in the carnage of the Eastern Front. But the recognition of the importance of the convoys has been slow in coming – and for many is still far from complete.

Amid the political deep freeze of the Cold War, history at first downplayed and then quietly forgot the role of the men whose bravery maintained the war machine of the Communist ally turned nuclear enemy.

At a champagne reception in Downing Street on Monday evening, Tony Blair attempted to rectify this wrong when he told surviving veterans that they had given “exceptional service” to their country. Standing before the veterans in their white berets, the Prime Minister said: “You played a crucial role in supplying Britain’s ally on the Eastern Front with material without which they would have found it difficult, if not impossible, to survive and maintain the fight.”

The tribute was the result of the Government’s pledge last year to consider the long-running campaign by the Arctic convoy veterans, of whom barely 1,000 survive, for a medal to recognise their role.

Mr Blair announced that rather than a medal, the veterans were to be awarded an “emblem”.

The Ministry of Defence was yesterday unable to provide an explanation of the device other than the fact that it did not have the same status as a medal but could be worn alongside them. A spokesman said: “We will be designing it in consultation with the veterans so we don’t know what it will look like or what it will be made of.” It was a Whitehall fudge which was yesterday met with a response from the Arctic convoy survivors that was as glacial as the -60C temperatures they endured six decades ago.

The Russians have had no such difficulties in recognising the veterans’ valour. To date, three medals have been granted to the British sailors.

Commander Eddie Grenfell, 85, the leader of the veterans’ medal campaign, said: “We are disgusted, absolutely disgusted. Mr Blair effectively told us were a great bunch of fellows but there was a limit to what he could do and we would have to be happy with a badge. I am not satisfied. The only way that a campaign, especially one as dreadful as the Arctic one, goes down in history is by a medal. A badge means nothing.”

As the 60th anniversary of the last of the Arctic convoys approaches in May, the row has once more focused attention on the nature of their task and its historical significance.

The sole nation fighting Hitler on the European mainland before the invasion of Italy in 1943, the Soviet Union was in desperate need of basic supplies in the early years of the war from its key allies, the Americans and the British.

Much of that hardware – ranging from aviation fuel to military boots – was supplied over land via Iran and across Siberia from the United States.

But Stalin also demanded that the stocks come via the quickest route possible – by sea from the North Atlantic and along the Norwegian coast to the Barents Sea, across some of the most inhospitable and heavily militarised waters on the planet.

Nick Hewitt, an expert on the convoys at the Imperial War Museum in London, said: “The nature of the Arctic ice sheet meant that, particularly in winter, these convoys had a relatively narrow channel in which to pass the enemy.

“The route was so important that the Germans based most of their naval fleet in Norway and sent as many U-boats there as possible. They could also use air power, by far the most difficult thing for a convoy to contend with. To sail the Arctic convoy route was dangerous in the extreme.”

The convoys, usually consisting of between 20 and 50 British and American merchant vessels with a heavy naval escort, gathered off Iceland or Loch Ewe, in Wester Ross, before starting their 3,000-mile, three-week journey. By the end of the war, some 1,400 merchant ships had completed the return voyage with losses running at around six per cent of the total.

But bald numbers do little to convey the horror of the fate suffered by the convoys, including PQ17 which left Reykjavik on 27 June 1942 laden with thousands of tons of supplies for Murmansk. Secret documents released last year suggested that the convoy was used as bait in an MI5/MI6 plot to lure out Hitler’s prized battleship, the Tirpitz, from its Norwegian base.

When Tirpitz failed to leave port, and British commanders wrongly believed another Nazi naval force was closing in, the order was given for PQ17 to scatter. Each ship was left to make its own way to Russia at the mercy of U-boats and Luftwaffe bombers.

In the end only 11 of the 36 ships in PQ17 made it to port. For those on board the vessels, the lucky ones who survived a sinking made it to lifeboats.

They included 84-year-old Bill Short, who found himself floating some 170 miles north of the Russian coast in 30ft seas and blizzards after his vessel, SS Induna, sank in March 1942.

The air temperature was -10C and, after four days at sea, the 35 survivors on board had dwindled to 17. They were so cold that ice crystals had formed in their stomachs. Those who had drunk whisky in the belief it would keep them warm instead fell asleep and froze where they sat in 12 inches of water.

Like many of the veterans, Mr Short is modest about his contribution. He said: “I’m not a hero. I was just one of the many who kept that route open.”

Alongside the threat of German torpedoes, the greatest menace to the Arctic convoys was the weather. A storm that struck HMS Sheffield, the sister ship to another Arctic convoy vessel, HMS Belfast, now moored in the river Thames, was so fierce that it peeled the armoured lid off a gun turret “like a sardine can”.

It was a constant battle to prevent ice forming on the upper decks which could capsize the vessel. The sailors resorted to wearing extreme quantities of clothing at a time of year when others would expect to be sunbathing.

Seaman Alan Smith, a Royal Navy rating who sailed with PQ17, wrote of the voyage: “Apart from extra-thick Arctic long johns over pairs of long johns, I had a thick naval jersey [and] woollen vests underneath, pure wool.

“I had a naval blue greatcoat, and over that I had a duffel coat. I had a balaclava and then I had a hood attached to the duffel coat and two or three pairs of gloves because if you had put your hand on the metal, you would have pulled the skin away. I couldn’t believe that this was July.”

Another sailor, William Smith, added: “The temperature in these seas got as low as 60 degrees below freezing. Your eyebrows and your eyelashes froze. The older men, who had hair in their noses, found that these froze solid and were like needles. Many men came off watch with faces covered in blood because they had rubbed their noses without thinking.”

The 20,000 Allied sailors who sailed on the convoys were also rarely accorded a warm welcome in Soviet Russia. Suspicion that the western powers might strike a peace deal with Hitler was reinforced by high-level Soviet embarrassment at having to accept capitalist aid, and the British visitors were confined to port on arrival.

But although the work was unglamorous and perilous in the extreme, experts point out that it was vital because rather than concentrating on providing sophisticated military hardware, it provided more basic supplies such fuel and logistical materials. In total, the Allied supply routes brought the Russians 375,000 trucks, one million miles of telephone wire and 15 million pairs of boots.

Others argue that the “nuts and bolts” nature of the material sent in the Arctic convoys, rather than being dominated by tanks and aircraft, meant that its military significance has been overplayed. It has also been suggested that the convoys were perpetuated to allow the Royal Navy to engage in a series of set-piece battles to destroy the Nazi’s key battleships such as the Tirpitz and the Scharnhorst, sunk in the Battle of North Cape on Boxing Day 1943.

Others point out that far wider political considerations were at play. Mr Hewitt said: “The convoys were hugely important for keeping our end up with the Russians and showing the commitment of the political alliance with Britain and America. The Russians were the only people fighting Hitler on land in Europe and both sides were worried about the other making a separate peace, so keeping the Russians on side was everything. The convoys provided important supplies but you also cannot extract the politics.”

Last night, as the Ministry of Defence insisted the Arctic convoy veterans had already been granted an Atlantic campaign medal and convention prevented an additional trophy, politics continued to play a part.

Graham Allen, the Labour MP who has championed the veterans’ cause, said: “I don’t think there is anyone in the country who wouldn’t feel it is appropriate to recognise the sacrifices of these men and defy the bureaucrats in the bowels of Whitehall who are sitting on ceremony to preserve a meaningless convention.”

Students name 7 Ordinary Heroes

Local students have selected seven residents to bear the title Wareham Ordinary Hero. The seven will be honored at a June 13 ceremony at Wareham High School.

The program originally was planned for May, but it was changed to avert a conflict with the administration of the MCAS standardized tests, organizers said.

In conjunction with the Community Service Learning Center, students in Grades 5 and 9 wrapped up the year-long project to honor people who make the town a better place.

The criteria for nomination required that the candidates be responsible, honest, optimistic, hard working, reliable, courageous, thoughtful, resilient and respectful.

The winners are:

# James Potter and Christian Fernandes, co-founders of the Onset Bay Movie Co. The nonprofit organization presents free family movies each week during the summer at the Lillian Gregerman Bandshell in Onset.

# Police Officer Peter Silvia, who oversees the Wareham Police Department’s DARE program.

# Wareham High School student Thuy Le, whose family left their native Vietnam for Wareham in 1992. Now 18, Ms. Le is a volunteer at the Good Shepherd Soup Kitchen and is a member of the National Honor Society.

# Marcine Fernandes, foster care and homeless education liaison for the Wareham public schools.

# Richard Kiernan, 88, a former firefighter and photographer, who was nominated by his great-granddaughter.

# Community volunteer Mary Ann Bostrom, founder of the 3-year-old Read to Succeed program.

The students who selected the heroes interviewed each candidate and wrote brief biographies about them that will be read at the awards ceremony.

Sunday, Feb. 13, 2005

Heroes save 36 from ferry

Terrified ferry passengers were saved by two brave crewmen yesterday after the boat was battered by a storm.

The ferry — with 36 people on board — drifted out of control after being wrenched from the cables that pull it across a river.

As it careered towards the open seas in 50mph gales, the crew managed to throw out a rope and lash the boat to a mooring buoy.

The passengers were rescued by a lifeboat and another ferry in sleet and driving rain.

One man was treated for hyperventilation.

The car ferry is attached to two thick steel chains that propel it across the River Dart between Dartmouth and Kingswear in Devon.

A spokesman for Torbay lifeboat said: “Once the chain breaks the ferry just goes on — it’s not under any control.”

After the passengers were saved, rescue services tried to transfer the 15 cars on board to another ferry.

But they were beaten back by the strong winds.

Stranded passengers were put up in a local hotel by the ferry’s
operator Dart Marina.

man recounts story of saving plane crash passengers

At least three passengers from the plane crash at Teterboro Airport owe their lives to the quick, selfless actions of West New York resident Claudio Gomez, who pulled them to safety after the Bombardier Challenger CL-600 skidded across Route 46 Feb. 2.

The plane rammed into the apparel warehouse of the Strawberry retail company, where Gomez works as the assistant supply/shipment manager.

“I was on the loading dock receiving supplies to send out to the stores,” said Gomez, 32, last week. “I had just finished signing [for the order], and that’s when I heard my friend scream.”

According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s website, at approximately 7:17 a.m. Wednesday morning, the Bombardier Challenger CL-600, N370V, which is operated by Platinum Jet Management, overran the departure end of runway 6 at Teterboro en route to Chicago’s Midway Airport in Illinois. The plane impacted a fence, crossed Route 46, colliding with cars, and struck the Strawberry warehouse.

Amazingly, no one was killed.

No time to think

Gomez remembers hearing a sound, but it was muffled by a delivery truck’s roaring engine. It wasn’t until he went outside that he saw a plane crashed halfway through the side of the warehouse.

Flames, smoke, and jet fuel were spewing from the wreckage, and Gomez worried of a possible explosion.

“I yelled for my boss to get away from the plane and call 911, and when I was about to go, I heard a woman screaming, ‘Help me, please,’ ” said Gomez.

Gomez turned around to find a passenger trying to exit the wreckage, but a massive snowdrift had blocked her way. He leaned against the enflamed plane in order to help free her, but no sooner was she out that another voice behind him was calling for help. A passenger approximately in his 50s was trying to take the same route out, and once again Gomez went back to help. It seemed that every time he turned around, another voice was calling.

“All this took place within a period of 20 minutes. There is just no time for you to think,” said Gomez.

The events of the day are a bit of a blur for Gomez, who remembers helping three to five people get away from the wreckage. The one man he does remember very clearly was the co-pilot of the plane, who told him not to risk his life.

“He was on the floor next to a river of fuel, and he was stuck,” said Gomez. “I grabbed him, but he kept saying, leave me, save yourself. That man had more heart than me.”

Gomez believes the co-pilot knew the plane could explode any minute, and didn’t want Gomez caught in the impact. The more he tried to help, the more the co-pilot resisted and urged him to flee.

“At one point, I remembered getting a bit angered, and I raised my voice to him,” said Gomez. “I told him, I need your help and you need my help, now be a man and try to get on your feet.”

With that, the co-pilot stumbled up with the help of Gomez, and the two men limped to safety.

Under the nose of the plane

At the time of the crash, there were approximately 30 to 40 people in the warehouse. According to Gomez, one of the workers was hurt because he had been in the area of the crash site. It is speculated that he was knocked unconscious by the debris, and when he came to, he found himself underneath the nose of the plane. Gomez discovered him there and helped him out of the warehouse. The worker has since been treated along with the rest of the injured at Hackensack University Medical Center.

Afterwards, Gomez, who was covered in jet fuel, went and embraced his wife, who also works at the warehouse. “I hugged my wife and I cried,” said Gomez.

However, his heroic actions did not end there, although everyone was safely out of the plane and the warehouse. Gomez was still worried of an explosion. He proceeded to direct the crowd, who has been standing in the freezing cold without their coat, to the company’s other warehouse on Reiser Street while emergency vehicles arrived. After making sure everyone was settled, Gomez went back to the crash site to get the coats from the warehouse, and then he proceeded to buy some coffee and hot chocolate for everyone from Dunkin Donuts. The feared explosion never occurred.

“I feel like I had been in complete control [the entire time],” said Gomez.

A moment to reflect

It wasn’t until after he went home and showered that the reality of what he had done sunk in, and he began to tremble and cry.

“I couldn’t stand the smell of the smoke and fuel, so I took off all my clothes and put everything in a black bag, and went to take a shower,” said Gomez.

He was still wrapped in his towel sitting on the bed when it hit him that he could have been killed. Gomez has since been apologizing to his wife and 2-year-old son for taking such a risk and not thinking of them.

“I still had my towel on, and I just started to tremble,” said Gomez. “I remembered nothing, not even my son.”

Gomez and his wife had been coughing profusely since they had gone home, so they went to Hackensack Medical Center, where they were treated for smoke inhalation.

No one is currently allowed back in the warehouse except for investigators, but Gomez and some of his co-workers were allowed to enter and collect what could be salvaged. The warehouse still carries and eerie presence for Gomez, who couldn’t stay long.

“I came out running,” he said. “I just got goose bumps.”

Since the incident, Gomez has been praised for his heroic efforts by his peers and local media. He has also received the grateful thanks from some of the people he helped save. However, for Gomez, the greatest demonstration of courage was not his own, but that of the co-pilot who was willing to stay behind so that he wouldn’t continue to endanger his life.

“I think about it when people say how strong and courageous I am for what I did, but for me, the co-pilot was braver and stronger than me,” said Gomez. “I did what any person would have done in my place, and that’s how I look at it.”

Ongoing investigation

According to Keith Holloway, public affairs officer for the NTSB, the wreckage itself has already been removed, and the matter is still under investigation.

“We haven’t determined the cause of the crash. It’s still early in the investigation,” said Holloway. “We have documented the wreckage, continued to gather information, and reviewed some of the interviews we have conducted.”

As of Wednesday, the latest information on the NTSB’s website registered a total of four people seriously injured, seven uninjured, and some minor injuries. The pilot and copilot sustained non-life threatening serious injuries, a cabin aide on board sustained minor injuries, and all eight passengers also survived the accident with minor injuries.

In regards to the incident, Tony Ciavolella, spokesperson for the Port Authority, has said, “It is unfortunate what happened, but the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is thoroughly investigating the incident. The Port Authority and local elected officials understand the concerns that residents have in the neighboring community of the Teterboro Airport, and in the past the Port Authority has taken steps to address these issues. The Port Authority will continue its close working relations with Gov. Codey and local elected officials to insure the safety of the people who live, work, and use the airport.”

Foster dad among CPS’ quiet heroes

The system may be under fire, but there are untold successes, too.

Rob Rodriguez’s hands are full, but his heart, and his house, have extra room.

The 36-year-old single father cares for his adopted son and two foster children while working a full-time job and running a nonprofit agency.

He keeps an extra bunk bed in his three-bedroom rental home in case state child-welfare officials need him to take in more children.

Amid the recent attention to Child Protective Services in Texas, including alleged abuse in some foster care group homes, the stories about foster parents such as Rodriguez sometimes aren’t told. But these foster parents provide loving homes for abused and neglected children, along with a sense of security and stability.

“Although it’s extremely challenging, it’s extremely rewarding, and that’s what I want people to understand,” Rodriguez said.

Texas lawmakers are reviewing the state’s foster care system as part of changes to the embattled Child Protective Services agency, which came under scrutiny after several children from homes investigated by the state died from abuse or neglect.

In a report last year, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn said some foster children have been moved 30 or 40 times and endured sexual, physical and emotional abuse, and sometimes death, in the system. Most of the abuse occurred in residential group homes, Strayhorn said, not with individual foster families, where most foster children live.

Many children, few families

The demand for foster families is greater than the supply. Texas has about 17,200 children in foster care and only 8,081 single-family homes to place them in.

Tracey Eilers, executive director of the Adoption Coalition of Texas, helps find families for children in Central Texas. She said the foster parents her group works with are wonderful, and she wished there were more people out there like Rodriguez.

“He’s really gung-ho,” Eilers said. He “has dedicated himself to helping these kids.”

Raised in a family with nine kids, Rodriguez always wanted children. A physical education assistant at Hernandez Intermediate School, Rodriguez decided five years ago to adopt his now-12-year-old son. Aaron had been living in foster homes because his mother was terminally ill and there was domestic violence in his home.

In September 2003, Rodriguez took in two brothers, 10 and 11, who were in foster care because of neglect. They returned to their mother about nine months later, and the day they left was difficult for everyone, Rodriguez said. The boys were part of the family, and they were sad about leaving, he said. Rodriguez and Aaron keep in touch with them.

Rodriguez soon took in two more brothers, 6 and 8. He would not discuss the reason they are in foster care. The boys have lived with Rodriguez and Aaron for nearly a year and are considered family. Their lives are routine: school and work during the day, playtime and homework at night.

‘A structured environment’

He admits he expects a lot from his children. Each child washes his own dishes after dinner, knows how to do his own laundry and must follow family rules. One child was punished recently for leaving his bicycle overnight on the porch, breaking a rule that was imposed after another bike was stolen.

“My philosophy is that they need to be in a structured environment,” Rodriguez said. “They came from an unstructured environment.”

But he also leaves room for fun.

On a recent day, Rodriguez sat on his porch, trying to fix a loose chain on one of the bikes, as the youngsters played nearby on bikes, a scooter and a skateboard.

“He lets us play video games,” the 8-year-old said. Rodriguez said the boys aren’t allowed to play violent games.

On a tour of the house, the 6-year-old proudly showed off his blue lava lamp next to his bunk bed. Another set of bunk beds for future foster children is set up in the same room, which is decorated with a Spider Man poster, a San Antonio Spurs NBA Championship pennant and trophies on the bookshelf.

Rodriguez said he took his first set of foster children to Denver and to Walt Disney World in Florida, and he hopes to take his current foster family to Washington, D.C., in the summer.

The trips give the children an opportunity to see places they have never seen before, Rodriguez said.

On a budget

The $40 a day he gets from the state to care for the two children is helpful, he said, because his bills increase with each additional flush or shower. Rodriguez makes $12,000 a year and says he earns extra money through his nonprofit, ECafe, which stands for Empowering Children and Families Everywhere, and by teaching parenting classes for CPS.

Being thrifty helps him get by, said Rodriguez, who shops off-season for clothes, clips coupons and goes to restaurants that offer 2-for-1 meals. “When we want to do something else that is bigger, we have the money for it,” he said.

Rodriguez admits the children he’s cared for have threatened suicide, thrown rocks at his car and broken things in the house. But after a few months, the children adjusted to their new home and began to make breakthroughs, he said. Rodriguez recalled the first time one of his foster children told him he loved him.

“He did it from another room. He said it real quick. I told him really quick that I loved him, too, and we went about our business,” Rodriguez said.

“At the hardest times, there aren’t warm fuzzy feelings. There are terrible feelings that no one wants to feel. Then, it’s just so great to see that one glimmer of hope that they will be OK, eventually.”

“I married my hero”

Couple wed after he rescues her from bandits.

Back in 2003, they were brought together by failed relationships, enjoying each other’s company with no plans for a future together.

But one dark night in September of that year, they stopped a car to travel home, and ended up fighting for their lives against bandits who wanted to rob and kill.

Dale Ramnanan was stabbed and told to run if he wanted to live. He chose to confront death instead, chasing after the car in which his girlfriend was being driven away, diving onto the vehicle, battling to get the door open-all the time a wailing Lystra Ramkissoon looking him in the eyes, willing him on.

Dale saved his girl that night, and last October they wed.

“I married my hero,” Lystra, 24, told the Sunday Express yesterday in an interview at their home in Central Trinidad.

“Our love grew. We became more attached. How could I marry someone else after that?” Dale said.

This love story began with the couple working side by side at a restaurant, taking no notice of one another.

Dale was and still is a chef at Imperial Garden Restaurant at Grand Bazaar, and Lystra was a cashier.

“It started really when I was done with my ex-(girlfriend) and she had broken up with her boyfriend. Some of the workers at the restaurant had a beach camp in Manzanilla,” he said.

“It was the 25th of September, 2002,” Lystra recalled.

Dale said: “Before that we never talked much. We just knew one another as workers. But that night, we were sleeping in the same tent, the breeze was strong, the post holding the tent fell, and I reach across her and “brakes” the wood from falling on her.”

Dale continued: “The next morning, we started to talk about our lives. She was going through some rough times. We walked the beach, I taught her to swim.”

“That night,” Lystra said, “the sky was full of stars. I made a wish to find the right person to love me for who I am.”

Back at work a few days later, Lystra said she slipped her telephone number to Dale, and there began the dating game.

It was on the night of September 29, 2003, that they faced death.

Dale said: “We had just finished work around 10 p.m. and waiting for transportation on the highway. It was hard getting a taxi. I wanted to drop Lystra home. A car pulled up.

“I sensed something was wrong even then, even as I was getting into the car. We sat in the back seat, I in the middle, a man on one side.”

Dale said there was a front-seat passenger in addition to the driver.

He said: “We were driving along the highway and I watching these three guys, saying something wrong here. Suddenly, the guy in the front seat nod his head to the man in the back and push back his seat, pinning Lystra, and put a knife by her throat. The man next to me put a knife to my head and push my head between my legs.”

Dale said he never panicked.

The bandits stopped in the isolated farming community of Carlsen Field.

Dale said: “The man next to me come out the car and drag me out. He say ‘run boy or I will kill you’. But I was just coming at him. His knife was long, and he was running into me and I was stepping back. I didn’t want them to go with Lystra.”

He said the car moved off, and the bandit outside the car leapt in.

“I tell myself I not giving her up. I ran to Lystra’s side of the car. The (window) glass was halfway down. The car was speeding. I hold on to the door post and lock myself to the car. I was bumping off the road, so I climb a little higher, and put my hand in trying to open the lock, and the men only stabbing me on my arm to let go.”

Dale said he had no intention of letting go.

Lystra told the Sunday Express: “I was just whispering my prayers for the entire thing. When they stop the car and take out Dale, I see him coming back for me and dive on the car. I could see him trying to get the lock open. I heard this voice saying ‘Lystra open the door and jump’.”

And that is what she did.

Dale said when Lystra fell from the car, he too threw himself off.

He said: “As I hit the road, I got up. My little finger mash up but I ran to her. We started running, then she tell me her foot break, so we dive in the bush. The car stop and then the men ride out.”

Only then, Dale said, did he realise that his girlfriend’s left foot had been twisted out of the socket with the bone protruding from the flesh.

“I couldn’t believe she run. She was bawling in pain, and I was trying to push the bone back in. When the car gone, I put her on my back and continued the journey.”

Both battered and bleeding, the couple still had a long way to go.

Dale said: “The houses down there were miles apart. When we came to one, it was locked up tight. No one answering, so we kept on going. We reach a flats (house) and started to call.

A lady put on her light and bawl ‘what allyuh want?’. I said ‘just one phone-call please’. I see the light switch off and she gone back to sleep.”

Dale said he started begging this time around, and when the woman’s husband came out and saw their bloodied condition, he relented.

The bandits were never caught, but the people who helped the couple that night got a personal invitation to their wedding, held last October 31. At the time of the bandit attack the couple had no plans to marry and made the decision last year-just two months before the date they set.

After the attack, Lystra spent two weeks at hospital and has a permanent limp from her injuries.

Dale has the knife scars on his arm and wears them like a badge of honour.

“I would do it all over again if I had to,” he said.

Dale’s father, Narais Ramnanan, 57, is proud of his son: “What my boy did was very brave to stand up to them and defend his girlfriend. It was love in his heart. They (the criminals) pushed him out of the car but he did not run. Love brought him back to rescue her.”

Calm, courageous child hero

His courage and ability to deal calmly with a situation probably saved the life of 10-year-old Kevin Arendse.

So said Terence Timmet, principal of Montevideo Primary School in Montana, on Friday.

Kevin survived a hostage drama on Thursday when he was held at gunpoint by Patrick Edwards, 21, of Valhalla Park for about three hours.

Edwards was later shot and killed by police sharpshooters.

Edwards shot teacher Joy van der Heever in her shoulder before taking Kevin hostage.

Van der Heever is in a stable condition in N1 Hospital.

According to Western Cape education minister Cameron Dugmore, Proteas cricketers Paul Adams and Herschelle Gibbs are expected to visit Kevin at the school on Monday.

Kevin, an ardent cricket enthusiast, is expected to be back at school by then.

Kevin met Die Burger on Friday when the photographer visited the school to take his picture.

Apparently, he and his mother, Deidre Arendse, were counselled by a psychiatrist at the school.

Timmet said: “Kevin is a very calm child and apparently offered his abductor sugar water to calm him.”

Die Burger was told Kevin continuously talked to Edwards in an effort to calm him.

According to Edwards’s grandmother, Frieda Edwards, her grandson was a addict and under the influence of drugs when he took Kevin hostage.

Western Cape education spokesperson Gert Witbooi said on Friday that Dugmore had been “much impressed” by the boy’s courage.

Although still traumatised, Kevin explained to the minister what had happened.

Dugmore also visited the school on Friday.

According to Timmet, only 40% of the pupils turned up on Friday as parents were nervous about sending their children to school.

“I was so relieved that not a single learner was injured in the incident.”

Johan Pretorius of the education department said pupils as well as teachers received counselling on Friday.

“We really did not expect the school to become the target of a hostage drama,” he said.

In the meantime, Sadtu provincial secretary Don Pasqualie has appealed to the education department to deploy more security officers at schools.

Witbooi said: “The incident underlined the fact that security measures at schools have to be evaluated and improved.”

Thursday, Feb. 10, 2005

Record-Breaker Ellen Sails Home to A Hero’s Welcome

Ellen MacArthur will receive a rapturous welcome today after smashing the record for the fastest person to sail single-handedly around the world non-stop.

Thousands are expected to give the yachtswoman a hero’s welcome when she arrives at Falmouth, Cornwall, this morning, following her mammoth trip.

Among the tributes showered on her were the “warmest congratulations” of the Queen after the young sailor completed the journey in 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds.

MacArthur said she was “physically and mentally exhausted” but “absolutely overjoyed” at the end of her voyage.

Speaking from the boat, she said: “I’m elated, I’m absolutely drained, it’s been a very tough trip.

“The whole south Atlantic was terrible and it’s just been one big draining event from there onwards.

“It is great that I can finally switch my mind off and not concentrate on wind speeds and boat speed.”

She said she had believed she could break the record but did not think it would be possible on her first attempt.

“Francis (Joyon) agreed his record was beatable, but to do it the first time – I really didn’t think that was possible.”

She added: “When I crossed the line I felt like collapsing on the floor and just falling asleep. I was absolutely over the moon.”

Thousands who had braved the cold to gather in front of a giant screen specially erected in Falmouth, Cornwall erupted in applause and champagne flowed as she crossed the finish line.

Tributes to her success poured in, with the Queen saying: “Your progress has been followed by many people in Britain and throughout the world, who have been impressed by your courage, skill and stamina.”

She described it as a “remarkable and historic achievement”.

The Prince of Wales sent “heartfelt congratulations”, and Prime Minister Tony Blair said: “The whole country is very proud of Ellen.”

The 28-year-old from Cowes on the Isle of Wight set out on November 28 last year in her 75ft trimaran B&Q.

The exhausted sailor, originally from Derbyshire, crossed the finish line off Ushant, France, at 10.25pm last night doing 13 knots, beating the record by one day, eight hours, 35 minutes and 49 seconds, her shore team said.

The total distance she sailed was 27,354 miles and her average speed on the water was 15.9 knots.

When Frenchman Francis Joyon set his time in February last year, many in the sailing world thought it would stand for years as he took a massive 20 days off the old record.

Joyon paid tribute to MacArthur in the wake of her record-breaking voyage: “I always said that Ellen was a serious contender, and I can see today that she has decided to prove me right.

“The mere fact that she was able to sail around the world non-stop was quite an exploit, but to smash the record at the same time fully deserves my warmest congratulations.”

During the incident-packed journey she has suffered burns to her arm, been battered and bruised when she had to climb the 90ft mast and narrowly avoided colliding with a whale.

Despite gales and icebergs in the southern ocean, light winds in the Atlantic and a host of technical problems, she managed to stay ahead of the time set by Joyon for most of the voyage.

In addition to the overall record, she also collected another five records, beating Joyon’s time to the Equator, the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin in Australia, Cape Horn and back to the Equator.

Sir Chay Blyth, who sailed around the world non-stop against the prevailing wind in 292 days in 1970 to 1971, was among fellow sailors to pay tribute, saying: “What Ellen has done is truly remarkable.

“She is such a tiny girl sailing a huge boat packed with technology, and beating the record is terrific.”

Saturday, Jan. 29, 2005

£1m hero

Tears as Jane hits her charity target.

It’s the emotional moment when Jane Tomlinson told the world: ‘I’ve done it.”

The terminal cancer sufferer has smashed her £1m charity fundraising target after three years of tackling some of the world’s toughest challenges.

Mum-of-three Jane made the tearful announcement with her husband Mike at her side.

She said: “When we set the £1m target I thought it was hugely over ambitious. And I’m astonished and delighted that we’ve reached it.
“We’re just so grateful to all the people who have donated. I never thought for a moment we would have raised £1m for charities – but being able to tell people we’ve hit the target has made it all worthwhile.”

Husband Mike said although Jane had no events planned in the near future the fundraising would still go on. He added: “We’re not giving up – there’s still a job to do.
“There are still children suffering. There are still people coping with cancer and people still need palliative care. For all these reasons, and while ever we have the strength, we will carry on raising money.”

Jane’s Appeal began with a humble £500 target for cancer research, but the interest in her story was overwhelming and the money poured in.
Jane then set herself the ultimate goal – raising £1m to be split between charities close to her heart.

Today the appeal total stood at an incredible £1,150,000.

Jane, 40, from Rothwell, Leeds, said: “I’m glad Mike didn’t set a bigger target. It’s a relief to have got a million as I don’t want to know what he’d have had me doing next!
“Looking back now, I’m not sure I would do the same thing again because we have all put ourselves under such a lot of pressure.
“But having taken the first step I’m really pleased that we carried it on. It means a lot to have finished what we started.”

Jane hit the headlines three ago when she ran the London Marathon after being told her disease had returned and was terminal. Later she was the first person on chemotherapy to run the race.
She was also became the only terminal cancer sufferer to complete two Gatorade half-Ironman triathlons, attempted the Nice three-quarter Ironman, cycled from John O’Groats to Land’s End and from Rome to her home in Leeds.

Jane finally retired from public fundraising after completing the “ultimate” challenge last month – the full Ironman in Florida.

Jane’s bravery in the face of adversity won her praise and accolades from across the world. She has picked up awards for both her courage of spirit and tremendous fundraising efforts, culminating in the awarding of an MBE from the Queen last year.

The majority of the money raised will go towards helping sick children. Three of her four causes – Macmillan Cancer Relief, Sparks, The Paediatric Acute Service and Hannah House – look after youngsters.

Inside Good News Blog