published Friday, March 15th, 2013

Red Cross honors heroes: 5 recognized for bravery, selflessness

Hixson High school nurse Candis Vickers, right, is photographed by her husband, Stephen, after she was named a Hometown Hero on Thursday during the annual Red Cross luncheon at The Chattanoogan. Vickers saved the life of a new student on her first day in class by using an automatic defibrillator.
Hixson High school nurse Candis Vickers, right, is photographed by her husband, Stephen, after she was named a Hometown Hero on Thursday during the annual Red Cross luncheon at The Chattanoogan. Vickers saved the life of a new student on her first day in class by using an automatic defibrillator.
Photo by Tim Barber.

HOMETOWN HEROES

There were five categories for this year's Hometown Heroes:

* Good Samaritan: Candis Vickers, who performed CPR on a student and saved her life.

* Hospital: Carol Browder, who hand-addresses cards and flowers to patients who have left the hospital for home.

* Youth: Eddie Pittman, who saved his three siblings from a house fire.

* First responder: Jack Thompson, a Chattanooga firefighter who saved a victim trapped under a vehicle.

* Red Cross volunteer: Michael Puryear, who has given much of his time to help with tornado relief during the April 2011 tornadoes in Southeast Tennessee and Joplin, Mo., and in the March 2012 tornadoes.

Heroes don't have to be masked avengers. They can be school nurses who save student lives or volunteers who give months of their time to help disaster victims.

Five of Chattanooga's heroes were honored Thursday at the annual Red Cross Hometown Heroes Luncheon.

"Heroes are among us," said Sandy Matheson, Red Cross regional chief development officer for East Tennessee. "We honor our heroes."

About 300 people gathered at The Chattanoogan to support the Red Cross and celebrate the five honorees selected for their acts of selflessness and bravery.

Candis Vickers was honored for her quick thinking when she saved a student's life when she administered CPR when the student passed out. Vickers said she was shocked when she was notified of the award.

"There are others more deserving," she said. "It's the typical, 'I was just doing my job.'"

Greg Waite, East Tennessee's new community chapter executive, said the event is a great way to honor the donors and to recognize those people who are heroes.

"These stories are just amazing," he said. "They gave of themselves to help and save people's lives."

Keith Alvey, CEO of the Louisville Area Chapter in Kentucky, was the keynote speaker. Alvey headed relief efforts in New York after Hurricane Sandy left thousands of people without food, water or heat in the dead of winter.

Alvey told stories of people going above and beyond what was required of them to help the residents of New York City.

He said often these community heroes don't realize the impact they have on people's lives.

"But we as a community couldn't live without them," he said.

Matheson said the event also was a good way to inform the public about the scope of what the Red Cross does. She said it isn't just large-scale disasters. The Red Cross helps with local emergencies, too.

Matheson said a Red Cross team responds to about three to five house fires a week, no matter what time, to offer help.

The Red Cross operates entirely on donations and doesn't receive any government funding.

"It's truly through the remarkable support of the community that we are able to do this," Matheson said.

about Lindsay Burkholder...

Lindsay Burkholder is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She graduated from Covenant College in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. While at Covenant she spent time writing for and editing the news section of the school newspaper, The Bagpipe. Burkholder also attended the World Journalism Institute in New York City in 2011.

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