Nine individuals and two organizations were honored Thursday morning during the American Red Cross’ 14th annual Delaware County Heroes Breakfast.
The event was held in the Hamilton-Williams Campus center and the heroic actions of local individuals and organizations.
The Lifesaving Hero award was given to Kip Millhoan and Mike Gilkison who were on the way to work when they came upon a car accident. According to the American Red Cross the pair stopped to help the woman, who was 20-weeks pregnant, and stayed with her until medics arrived. Gilkison was unable to attend, but Millhoan was given the award.
The Community Service-Individual award was given to Dan Wiencek, a volunteer for Sourcepoint’s Meals on Wheels program. Fara Waugh, director of client services at Sourcepoint, said Weincek delivers meals every week and has driven 266 hours and nearly 2000 miles in his 177 deliveries. Waugh said Wiencek is devoted to local seniors and disabled clients.
The Community Service-Organization award was presented to a representative from the Delaware County Foundation. The Red Cross reported that the foundation support both the Red Cross’ blood drives by donating a vehicle and support the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, which installed hundreds of smoke detectors in local homes.
The Act of Courage award was given to PJ Roberts, a supervisor for Delaware Emergency Communications for his decision to sound the tornado siren in August during the Ironman race. EMA director, Sean Miller, said the siren had not been sounded since 1997 and said Roberts put safety first by sounding the alarm.
The Animal Rescue Hero award was presented to the Delaware County Dog Shelter for their humanitarian efforts to finding permanent homes for adoptable animals. The dog shelter will house animals indefinitely and have a careful screening process to place pets with good homes.
The Spirit of the Red Cross award was given to Leah Cottrill-Mescher, a community member who serves on the Red Cross advisory board and has helped to plan events. The Red Cross praised Cottrill-Mescher for her support and said she does the work while also holding down a full-time job as a managing partner at SERVPRO. Cottrill-Mescher humbly thanked her co-workers and said it would not be possible without them.
Delaware City Fire Chief John Donahue also presented the award for Public Safety Hero to four local firefighters. Lt. Pete Gomia, firefighters Steve Leech, John Stuart and Tom Vernon were recognized for their “valiant” efforts to try to save the life of a teenage girl who died during a Sept. 15 fire.
Donahue said the men arrived at the fire within four minutes after receiving the call and immediately began putting out the fire and rescued a teenage girl who was in an upstairs bedroom. Donahue said the fire was so serious that it could be seen through every window but one; typically the fire department tries to put these fires out without entering the building. Because they knew there was a resident inside, the firefighters bravely attempted a rescue.
Donahue said Leech and Stuart were the first ones to put up a ladder and attempt to put out the fire. Donahue said Vernon climbed into the girl’s room and handed her out the window to Gomia, who carried her down the ladder.
“I cannot say enough about these firefighters,” Donahue said tearfully. Stuart and Gomia were both electrocuted during the operation and Stuart strained his back when he single-handled lifted the girl out the window. Donahue said the men continued to work at the scene despite their injuries.
The firefighters were honored with a standing ovation.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.