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Red Cross honors ‘Real Heroes’ for life-saving efforts


The American Red Cross of Northern New York honored 15 people during the Real Heroes Breakfast on Wednesday at the Hilton Garden Inn for going beyond their job duties to help those in need.

Chapter Executive Jane G. Gendron said she wanted to bring back the event, which hadn’t been held in Watertown in 10 years, to honor people who gave others tools to help save a life or rescued others from harm.

Awards given Wednesday included:

n Adult Good Samaritan: Rita J. Walldroff, manager of Community Bank, Clayton, because in November 2011 she donated one of her kidneys to the 17-year-old son of one of her employees.

n Education: Johnna F. Burto, Carthage, is a Red Cross instructor who in July taught Christina Castle, a friend from Florida, conscious choking baby techniques. That same day, Mrs. Castle used the information to save the life of her 8-month-old son, Jack, who had begun to choke on his own vomit.

n Fire Rescue: Ronald D. Jacobs, volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician with the Cape Vincent Fire Department and a St. Lawrence River Pilots member, acted quickly in October to sail a boat from the dock and prevent a runaway ferry with passengers from crashing into the shoreline. The boat captain had suffered a heart attack and survived because of Mr. Jacobs’s actions.

n Good Neighbor: Joseph Compo, Watertown Fire Department captain, has dedicated 34 years to the department and time to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

n Law Enforcement: Gregory P. Gibbs, a Watertown police officer, pulled an elderly woman and two other residents out of their burning home May 15.

n Youth Good Samaritan: Zachary Lehman, Croghan, is a physical education teacher and coach at Beaver River Central School, who donated one of his kidneys in May to his 15-year-old brother, Ethan.

n Military Award: Sgt. Eduardo Rodriguez, Spc. Eric Anderson, Spc. Ronrico Phillips, Spc. Chris Schneider, Spc. Khiry White, Pfc. Dijon McEachen, Pvt. Jonathan Mendoza and Pvt. Michael Parham, all from Golf Company, 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, were on their way back to work from a lunch break in October when they entered a burning home in the post’s Rhicard Hills and rescued two residents and their pets from a fire.

n Blood Donor: Robert D. Gorman, managing editor of the Watertown Daily Times, Watertown, has donated 11 gallons of blood to the Red Cross over the last 30 years.

Event sponsors included Community Bank; WWNY-TV and WNYF-TV; Kinney Drugs Foundation; Lamar Advertising Co.; Watertown Daily Times; F.X. Caprara Car Companies; Seth’s Pub; Watertown Fire Department; Exford & Exford Financial; Bernier, Carr & Associates; HSBC Bank; the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council; McEvoy Insurance; Atlantic Testing and the Volunteer Transportation Center.

For more information about the Red Cross, those interested may call Mrs. Gendron at the agency, 782-4410.

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