The American Red Cross Hometown Heroes Luncheon honored five people Wednesday for community service:
* Good Samaritan youth: Nolan Skiles
* Hospital volunteer: Dottie Womack
* Red Cross disaster volunteer: Eva Knab
* First responder: John Robinson
* Good Samaritan adult: Vernon Mcleod
Aron Ralston knelt at the foot of the wheelchair, tears in his eyes, holding Monique Carpenter’s hand as she whispered to him.
She had been trapped for 16 hours after her car slid off the road and into a ravine 26 years ago, she told him. The accident left her paralyzed from the waist down.
“He said we’ve both been to a place nobody else knows about,” Carpenter, of Dalton, Ga., said after the American Red Cross Hometown Heroes Luncheon in Chattanooga.
Ralston, an outdoor adventurer, climber and mountaineer, shared the story of how a boulder fell on his arm and held him trapped for six days in a Utah desert canyon in April 2003.
“I realize I’m alone,” he said. “No one knew where I was.”
Then he had a dream in which he saw his future son, he said, and it gave him hope. So he broke his arm and sawed through it with a knife. He came out of the canyon and hiked six miles before finding help.
Now he wears a prosthetic arm he designed himself. He said he never tires of telling his story.
“I’m growing from it,” he said.
He wrote a book, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place,” and inspired the movie “127 Hours,” starring James Franco.
Carpenter said she saw the film and related to his experience, so she traveled from Dalton to talk to him.
“After the movie, I said, ‘I am going to meet him one day,’” she said.
Barbara Alexander, executive director of the Chattanooga chapter of the American Red Cross, said the event raised about $100,000. She said it was the fourth year of the luncheon.
But this was one of the most inspiring, she said.
Hearing Ralston speak, she thought of her own 24-year-old son.
“It was an amazing story,” she said.
Cliff has worked for the Times Free Press for five years and covers Chattanooga city government. He previously covered Rhea County, as well as transportation and growth and development in Southeast Tennessee. A native of Maryville, Tenn., Cliff graduated in 2003 from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis on journalism. Before coming to Chattanooga, he was a crime reporter with Hernando Today, a supplement of The Tampa (Fla.) ...
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