Our heroes

From saving lives to giving comfort, efforts of hometown heroes lauded at Red Cross breakfast

It wasn’t unusual for Shane Rogers and Steve Cardwell to be doing something together as they arrived Thursday morning for the Blount County Heroes Breakfast. The two have been best friends their entire life, both growing up in Blount County. Rogers, 22, is a full time employee of the Blount County Fire Department. Cardwell, 23, is a member of the Alcoa and Greenback Volunteer Fire Department and a First Responder with the Friendsville Volunteer Fire Department.

It just goes to reason that even with Cardwell’s main employment being with Multi-Media Solutions, the two would cross paths often.

On July 3, 2010, the two friends found themselves on the same path that resulted in a lifesaving rescue. Their efforts, and the effort of 11 other Blount County citizens, earned them recognition last week as Blount County Heroes.

The 2011 Blount County Hometown Heroes Awards Breakfast was held Thursday morning, March 24, at First United Methodist Church of Maryville.

The 12 who were honored were cited as being examples of people who live their everyday lives in an extraordinary manner.

Rogers and Cardwell were presented with the Heroes Firefighter Award. The pair were honored for their quick and effective response to a possible drowning and electrocution at Friendsville’s International Harbor Marina. Rogers arrived within 2 minutes and began CPR on one of three victims who was not breathing. Cardwell arrived 2 minutes later with the support truck and the two completed a lifesaving rescue.

Both said they were appreciative of the honor. “I was very happy with the award - very appreciative,” Rogers said. Cardwell was surprised, “that the people here took the initiative to nominate us. It means a lot.”

This is the ninth year for the Blount County Heroes Breakfast, hosted by the Blount County Chapter of the American Red Cross. The event is a fundraiser that salutes hometown heroes, said Matt Haralson, chairman of the board of directors.

“For those heroes being honored today, as well as the countless other who make our community what it is, the American Red Cross would like to say ‘Thank you.’ We are very pleased indeed to recognize your invaluable contributions to our community,” he said.

In addition to the 12 awards, Robin McDaniel was honored for her services to the breakfast and the Red Cross. The chapter presented her a plaque in honor of her late husband, Kirk, to thank her for her contributions. McDaniel, who writes In the Kitchen for Blount Today, was the only individual who sponsored an award and was the recipient of the Community Service Award last year.

Blount County Heroes award winners and the sponsors of each award are:

Law Enforcement Award -- Jeff Parsons, sponsored by Alcoa, Inc.

The Law Enforcement Award was given to Alcoa Police officer Jeff Parsons, a seven-year veteran of the department. Parsons, a field training and patrol officer, has a multitude of accomplishments and contributions to the community. He organized two child safety seat checkpoint events, as well as the “APD is MADD About Drunk Driving” event that raised more than $2,000 for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He also organized two seatbelt campaigns during the 2010 holiday season.

Parsons thanked the Red Cross for the honor. “Law enforcement is such a stressful job. To be recognized by the community is humbling. You can’t do this job without a strong family and a supportive wife,” he said in thanking his wife. Beth. “I’ve very honored and thankful to the Red Cross and Alcoa, Inc., for sponsoring this award.”

Military Award -- Scott Maddux, sponsored by First Tennessee

Scott Maddux, owner of Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson, was recognized with the Military Award. Maddux wasn’t able to attend, but Greg Wilson, Maryville regional president of the bank, presented the award and praised Maddux for his commitment to military members and veterans. “Those of you who know Scott know he has a very big heart when it comes to the men and women of the military,” Wilson said.

Medical Award -- Christine Smithee, sponsored by Blount Memorial Hospital

The Medical Award was presented to Christine Smithee, a physical therapist who has been director of rehabilitation services at the hospital for 20 years. Jeanie Ezell presented the award. “When Christine came to Blount Memorial, there were a handful of staff and her department has grown to eight locations with 170 employees, and they provide all types of therapies,” Ezell said. “She has always had a very professional approach. We also admire her because she is a cancer survivor and was always so positive throughout that experience.”

Smithee was grateful for the honor and thanked all the administration and staff at the hospital for their support through the years. “This is our award, not just mine,” she said.

Animal Rescue Award -- Ginger Nicholson and Lee Ann Pfeiffer, sponsored by Chroma, Inc.

The Animal Rescue Award was presented to Ginger Nicholson and Lee Ann Pfeiffer. Chroma company president Brenda Sellers shared how the two employees rescued a stray dog near the company property and found him a home.

“They took him home and cared for him,” she said. “Then they interviewed and found a family for him.”

Nicholson encouraged the audience to remember to spay and neuter pets to cut down on the stray population. Pfeiffer thanked Sellers for being understanding. “I’d like to say a special thank you to Brenda for letting us bring the dog to staff meetings,” she said.

Emergency Personnel Award -- Neal Stone, sponsored by Rural/Metro Ambulance Service

The Emergency Personnel Award was presented to Neal Stone, a supervisor with the ambulance service. Rob Webb, division general manager with Rural/Metro, praised Stone for his commitment to his job and his community. “One of the things I’ll tell you is we have 915 employees in East Tennessee, and Neal is the only one I know of who has his own defibrillator in his car,” Webb said. “Neal is truly a dedicated servant in this community.”

In addition to serving his community, Neal recently retired as a Master Sergeant from the Air National Guard and was deployed overseas during 9-11.

Red Cross Community Service Award -- Jeanie Green, sponsored by Robin McDaniel

It was the death of Jeanie Green’s uncle from prostate cancer that spurred her to expand her already focused commitment to community service to new heights. Green was honored for her work in starting a prostate support group that today boasts 60 members. The Prostate Cancer Support Group meets at Blount Memorial Hospital monthly and is open to anyone living with prostate cancer or who wants to learn more about the disease.

In addition, Green learned of the growing problem with affordable prescription medications and is now the founder and director of the Blount County Indigent Pharmacy Foundation.

Betty Proffitt Hale Community Impact Award -- Beth Evans, sponsored by the American Red Cross

The Betty Proffitt Community Impact Award was presented to registered nurse Beth Evans. Hernandez said Evans made an impact in the community during the mid-1980s when she brought AIDS education to Blount County and spent hours in schools and community clubs explaining the disease. In 2010, Evans began helping Nursing Director Samantha Stout bring a Nurse Assistant Training course to the chapter.

Evans said she was surprised by the award and honored the organization honoring her. “The Red Cross does so much in the community, and it is totally supported by volunteers,” she said. “I am proud to give my time for the Red Cross.”

Youth Good Samaritan Award -- Joey Robinson, sponsored by Marriott Business Services

Joey Robinson, a Maryville High School junior, received the Youth Good Samaritan Award for helping to rescue a swimmer who yelled for help while Robinson was snorkeling in St. Thomas in 2010.

Joey and his mother were in about 15 feet of water, 150 yards from shore, when they heard another snorkeler who was in trouble yell for help. They swam to the man, stabilized him and helped get him onto a Jet-Ski someone rode out from shore. They were able to get him to shore where he received medical treatment.

Adult Good Samaritan Award -- Laura Sneed, sponsored by Marriot Business Services

While vacationing with her family in 2010, Laura Sneed used her knowledge of CPR to save a young boy’s life after he became stuck in hotel pool drain. Once the 3-year-old little boy was brought by another swimmer to the pool deck, Sneed started CPR, a friend got help, and the boy was saved due to their quick action. He was taken to hospital where he was released two days later.

Sneed is an American Red Cross trained Safety Team Volunteer and is a fundraiser for the American Heart Association and Relay for Life. Sneed was grateful for the award. “This is really an honor for me,” she said. “I was just in the right place at the right time and was able to make a difference.”

Table sponsors for the breakfast were Blount Discount Pharmacy, Clayton Homes, Citizens Bank of Blount County, Lowe’s Drugs, Metropolitan Airport Authority and Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson.

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