Last updated: June 12. 2014 4:01PM - 253 Views
By Andrea Chaffin Editor

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This week, I was reminded of the many unsung heroes in Madison County.

We sometimes hear of folks quietly doing extraordinary things during their daily lives, never asking for praise or attracting attention.

But, this time, these heroes will be publicly recognized as such.

The American Red Cross of Scioto Valley, which serves a region including Madison County, will hold its 9th annual Hometown Heroes Breakfast at the St. Patrick Elementary School gymnasium next Thursday, June 19.

Seven Madison Countians will rightfully be honored as heroes during the event. The individuals were nominated by community members, with final recipients selected by a committee with the Red Cross.

The Madison Press is proud to be a media sponsor for this event. For the breakfast, we’ll be publishing a special keepsake section, which will be tucked into the newspaper next Wednesday, June 18. As something new this year, extra copies of the section will be provided to guests at the breakfast on Thursday.

I spent several hours this week reading the testimonies provided to the Red Cross by nominators about their heroes. With every individual’s nomination I read, I thought to myself, “Surely, this individual’s achievements outnumber the rest.”

I’ll just put it this way: It would be difficult to choose a top hero among them.

Loretta Weimer, who lives in Plain City, is the epitome of pioneer. She earned her license to fly Piper Cubs in 1940, and in 1941 she became one of the first female graduates from the new co-ed Queens College. In 1942, she was among the first volunteers to be selected to become a Navy WAVE. Her first set of orders were to New York where she learned to type and was quickly leveraged as a coder supporting secret communications regarding strategic convoy operations to and from Great Britain.

Now in her 90s, Weimer is this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

To put it bluntly, Lucas and Jolinda Gutierrez make the rest of us look like slackers.

The Plain City couple creates, organizes and leads the charge for a variety of community activities, including involvement in Boy Scouts, the Plain City United Methodist Church and Plain City Elementary School. During their “free” time — ha! — they raise three of their own kids. The couple has been awarded the Red Cross Board of Directors Award.

Brenda McNeal has gone far above and beyond for her patients at Madison County Hospital. Having worked in a plethora of positions over a 25-year career, she is currently serving with Madison County Health Partners Free Clinic as a patient prescription case manager, where she has saved her patients thousands of dollars, with some crediting her with their lives, as well.

Alice Kennedy has provided color to the lives of countless individuals in the developmentally disabled community. A lifelong volunteer, she teaches art classes and has literally enhanced the lives of many of her “artists” with her work at MATCO and with the Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Diane Self and Sue Hostetler share this year’s education hero award. The two veteran teachers also share a similar story. Each stepped in to tutor a child during their battle with cancer, providing much more than a math or English lesson. Nominators say their selfless, caring teaching style have spanned their entire careers in the classroom.

In addition to serving as an opportunity to recognize local heroes, the breakfast is also a fundraiser for the local American Red Cross, which in the past year has responded to 15 local disasters providing more than $5,000 in disaster relief serving 46 individuals.

Raising money for the Red Cross, a good breakfast, honoring local heroes — is there anything better?

I hope many of you will join me at this wonderful event highlighting some of the best of Madison County. Let’s make some noise and sing out for our unsung heroes.

Andrea Chaffin is the editor of The Madison Press. She can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 19 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.

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