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Red Cross

The American Red Cross of Central New York holds a previous Real Heroes Breakfast in Syracuse.

Two decades ago, the American Red Cross of Central New York served its first Real Heroes Breakfast to celebrate the Red Cross's mission of preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. Since its inaugural edition, the event has evolved into a tradition for hundreds of central New Yorkers who gather on the first Wednesday of December to honor men and woman who have performed heroic acts to help others in need.

The 20th annual Real Heroes Breakfast will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the Oncenter in Syracuse. Twenty central New Yorkers will be recognized as heroes. In most cases, they are people who became immersed in emergency situations during a seemingly routine endeavor, such as driving home from work, meeting friends for dinner or working out at a local gym. Others are men and women who have adopted a vocation of saving lives. Some are being honored for a devotion to service in their communities.

Here are the 2018 Real Heroes: 

• Michael Donlan, Jr., Adult Good Samaritan: While driving home, he came upon the scene of child who was choking and stopped to help.

• Nicholas Gross, Youth Good Samaritan: Utilized his Boy Scouts first aid training to assist his parents following an ATV accident.

• Sharie Pryce, Animal Rescue: She volunteers for the CNY Cat Coalition and is a registered cat foster parent.

• Ebony Pengel, Blood Donor: She has dedicated her birthday to saving lives through her “Celebration of Life” blood donation parties.

• Dom Cambareri, Dee Perkins and Jennifer Savastino, Community Service: Under their leadership, the Syracuse Challenger Baseball League is now the largest league in the country for players with special needs.

• Tyler Hulchanski, Education: While in school, he performed the Heimlich maneuver on a fellow student who was choking.

• Lt. Roseanne Wood-Rautenstrauch and firefighter William Sanborn, Fire Rescue: Members of the Syracuse Fire Department who responded to an incident to treat a man with a severe arm laceration.

• Katheryn Dunn, Amanda DeFoe, Katharine Freeborn and Lindsay Watkins, Good Neighbors: Four nurses who were working out at a local gym and acted collectively when they were alerted to a man who had suffered a heart attack while jogging nearby.

• Sgt. James Farley and Deputy Michael Bradley, Law Enforcement: Members of the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Aviation unit, they manned a helicopter to rescue a woman who had fallen through the ice of the Seneca River.

• Carter Kazmirski, Lifeline: He called 911 and relayed critical information when his father had a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting.

• Cassandra Bradford, Medical: A registered nurse, she was leaving a restaurant and noticed a woman who was displaying symptoms of a stroke and provided immediate medical attention.

• Cindy Seymour and June Worden, Military: They formed Serenity for Women, which builds tiny houses for homeless female veterans.

Proceeds from the breakfast support the Red Cross. In addition to communities in Cayuga County, the Central New York Chapter serves Cortland, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego counties. Last year, the chapter responded to 169 local disasters, assisting 241 people; made 387 households safer through the installation of 1,072 free smoke alarms as part of the Home Fire Campaign; trained 11,881 people in first aid, CPR and water safety skills; opened 866 case services for military members, veterans and their families through Service to the Armed Forces; and collected 38,287 blood donations from volunteer donors.

For more information on local Red Cross programs and services, visit

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Dan Hartman is regional communications program manager for the American Red Cross of Western and Central New York. For more information, call (315) 234-2200 or