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Red Cross’ Real Heroes Breakfast to honor 15 people Wednesday


Whether trained emergency professionals were off duty or good neighbors wanted to help out someone in need, many north country lives have been saved by real-life heroes.

During the resurrected Real Heroes Breakfast from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1290 Arsenal St., 15 north country residents will be honored for selflessly giving their time to help others in need.

“None of them did any of these acts to receive any kind of recognition,” said Jane G. Gendron, chapter executive of the American Red Cross of Northern New York, the agency hosting the breakfast.

Mrs. Gendron said although the local Red Cross has not hosted such an event in more than a decade, she wanted to bring the signature event back to recognize the area’s heroes. Those heroes will receive the following awards:

n Adult Good Samaritan — Rita J. Walldroff, manager of Community Bank, Clayton, will receive the award 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 choked 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 much time with 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 his kidney in May to his 15-year-old brother, Ethan.

n Military Award — Fort Drum soldiers 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.

Tickets to Wednesday’s breakfast are $25 each, and reservations are requested by Tuesday by calling Mrs. Gendron at the Red Cross, 782-4410. People also may send her an email at

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