Portage 'Real Heroes' honored at annual Red Cross ceremony

by Mike Sever | Staff Writer Published:

Five Portage County residents were recognized as real heroes May 15 as the American Red Cross held its 14th annual Real Heroes of Portage County Awards in Aurora.

The event at the Bertram Inn was to honor heroes from Portage, as well as Summit and Geauga counties, recognizing the larger service

Proceeds from the event support local Red Cross services, and the event is sponsored by Robinson Memorial Hospital.

The Red Cross presented the third annual Robinson Memorial Hospital Paragon Award to A. Ray Dalton of PartsSource. The award is given to a community member who best exemplifies leadership in the community, demonstrates compassion for its people, and who actively supports the lifesaving missions of both the American Red Cross and Robinson Memorial Hospital.

The 2014 Portage County Real Hero recipients include:

David Irland of Brimfield was recognized for using his First Aid knowledge to save a choking child. During a lunch period last spring, Irland, a teacher at Brimfield Elementary, noticed one of his kindergarten students was having difficulty breathing. Irland recognized the boy was choking. Quickly Irland knelt behind the boy and performed an abdominal thrust which dislodged a very large bite of sandwich. Irland took the kindergartener to the school nurse and they were back in the lunchroom within 15 minutes.

Chance Singer of Streetsboro was recognized for rescuing a family from an early morning house fire. Singer was driving home from work around midnight when he and his passengers spotted the roof of a house consumed by fire. Seeing a car in the driveway, Singer pulled over and ran to the house to alert the residents. After banging on various doors and windows, he had to run back to his car to recover from the smoke. When he returned for one more attempt, he heard a dog barking. He watched as the family ran out of the burning door. The oldest son had been awakened by Singer's pounding and had alerted his family to get out. As flames engulfed the home, Singer got the family across the street to safety.

Aurora Police Chief Seth Riewaldt was recognized for 35 years of altruistic commitment to the Aurora Community and for creating the Community Enhancement Team (CET) and K-9 unit. Riewaldt will retire in June with 35 years of service to Aurora. He worked his way through the ranks, first as a dispatcher and then as an officer, and was appointed Aurora's police chief in 2003. In his tenure, he has increased the size of the force and assembled funding for the city's Police K-9 unit. In an effort to enhance the department's response in the community Riewaldt created the Community Enhancement Team (CET), a division of three officers assigned to address concerns of residents and business owners. He initiated the school resource officer program with the local district, which has grown from one officer to two.

Andrew Wawrin of Ravenna was recognized for inspiring community members to donate more than 500 pints of blood to help more than 1,500 recipients through the annual Christopher Wawrin Blood Drive. When his son, Christopher, passed away due to a violent act in December of 1997, Wawrin wanted to observe his son's birthday in a way that would continue to honor his legacy. Each year Wawrin hosts a blood drive on the weekend of Christopher's birthday. In the past 16 years, the family has inspired nearly 500 people to come and donate blood, helping 1,500 patients in local hospitals.

Zoe Burch, a Kent State University student, was recognized for reporting an online threat of school violence. Burch was in an online chat room during her second year at Kent State when she noticed a violent threat toward a high school in Pennsylvania. She reported the threat to Kent State Police which led to involvement from Pennsylvania authorities and the FBl. The threat was confirmed and the suspect was arrested thanks to Burch's quick actions.

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