Red Cross Honors 2014 Hometown Heroes

SPRINGFIELD — The American Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter recognized 11 individuals at its Hometown Heroes Breakfast on March 27. The annual event honors local people who have shown courage, kindness, and unselfish character when a friend, family member, or stranger faced a life-threatening situation, or who have had an extraordinary impact on his or her community. This year’s honorees include:
​• Joseph Allen of Granby and John Weston of Longmeadow, employees at Verizon, who, along with Maryann Alben of East Longmeadow, found an unconscious man lying outside a cafeteria. They performed CPR on the stranger, keeping him alive until an ambulance arrived. Their quick thinking and heroic action saved the man’s life.
Gina Lopez and Sandra Land, both of Springfield, and student-athletes at Agawam High School. While competing in a cross-country race, they noticed a student from the opposite team in distress. The student was having a seizure. Instead of finishing the race, they stopped to help and alerted parents and coaches to the situation. Their sportsmanship and quick thinking allowed the student to get speedy medical assistance and prevented complications or a dire outcome.
Steve Berube of Westfield, who founded Ultimate Sports Program (USP), an organization whose mission is social inclusion through sports. USP’s goal is to teach sports to kids with disabilities alongside their friends. Berube himself was disabled as the result of an accident with a drunk driver, and he suffers from chronic pain. He believes in helping kids understand that having friends who are different than themselves is not only a great thing, it’s a lot of fun. Since its founding eight years ago, USP has reached more than 600 families.
Art Hardy and Kevin Collins, both of Springfield, who left their posts at UPS to come to the aid of a motorist trapped in his burning vehicle after a car crash. The car had pinned the driver to the back seat of his burning vehicle. Hardy and Collins repeatedly put out the flames until emergency personnel arrived. Their quick thinking saved the young man’s life.
Alan Kraefft of Belchertown, who ran into his neighbor’s burning mobile home on Christmas morning and pulled him to safety. His neighbor, who walks with the assistance of canes, was unable to escape the fire on his own, so Kraefft’s bravery and fast action saved his neighbor’s life.
Vincent Ferrero of Ludlow, who has donated blood and platelets for more than 30 years. He continues to give and encourages others in his community to give. Over the years, his donations have contributed to saving the lives of more than 400 people.
Dr. Wilson Pyle of Florence, who was driving home in Northampton when the car in front of him started to drive erratically and ultimately crashed into a tree. When he pulled over and went to the car, he saw that the driver had suffered a heart attack and had no pulse. Pyle performed CPR and called for bystanders to get a defibrillator from a nearby school. He then shocked the man and revived him.
Hometown Heroes is the chapter’s largest fund-raising event, providing resources to support disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery throughout Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties.

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