'Real Heroes' awards: Saving, affecting lives

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Jeremy Gilley receives the American Red Cross Military Real Heroes Award from former Maine Gov. John Baldacci, left, at the Ramada Inn in Lewiston on Tuesday.

LEWISTON — As Deloris Fellner lay bleeding from a severed artery, Auburn police officer Brandon Kelly pressed a towel over the gashes on her side and asked the names of her seven dogs.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Auburn Fire Capt. Chip Keene, center, receives the American Red Cross Blood Services Real Heroes Award from former Maine Gov. John Baldacci, right, and Ellen Russell at the Ramada Inn in Lewiston on Tuesday.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Micky Gogan, second from left, Jennifer Cyr and Christina Cifelli receive the American Red Cross Workplace Safety Real Heroes Award from former Maine Gov. John Baldacci, right, and Chief Paul LeClair of the Lewiston Fire Department. 

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Officer Brandon Kelly, center, receives the American Red Cross Public Safety Real Heroes Award from former Maine Gov. John Baldacci, right, and Auburn Police Chief Phil Crowell at the Ramada Inn in Lewiston on Tuesday.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Amanda Garboski, center, receives the American Red Cross Youth Real Heroes Award from former Maine Gov. John Baldacci, right, and Belgrade Fire Chief Daniel MacKenzie at the Ramada Inn in Lewiston on Tuesday.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Bill Legere, center, receives the American Red Cross International Outreach Real Heroes Award from former Maine Gov. John Baldacci, right, and Central Maine Medical Center President Laird Covey at the Ramada Inn in Lewiston on Tuesday.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Brooke Pinkham, right, gets flowers and a hug from Amy Liberman after Pinkham was given the American Red Cross Lifesaving Real Heroes Award at the Ramada Inn in Lewiston on Tuesday. Pinkham stopped to help at a car crash that involved Liberman and her 6-year-old daughter, Danika DeMayo, hugging mom at bottom. Liberman said Pinkham's aid helped save DeMayo's life.

He'd repeat them back wrong. She'd get mad, correct him. He'd do it again.

During a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night on Dec. 15, 60-year-old Fellner had crashed through a glass wall. She lost more than half of her blood.

Kelly asked her about the dogs to keep her awake and distracted, and he kept her alive.

Kelly was honored Tuesday morning as one of the United Valley American Red Cross's 2013 Real Heroes.

During the 10th annual breakfast at the Ramada Inn, honorees saved children from a house fire, resuscitated a man who collapsed in exercise class, helped save a young girl's life after a horrible car crash, organized a blood drive and, in many ways, did the almost impossible.

Laird Covey, president of Central Maine Medical Center, presented one award to Bill Legere, who started the Foundation for Hope and Grace with his wife after losing their daughter, Grace, in a pony cart accident in 2008.

"For he and Teresa to have taken a tragedy most of us can't imagine and have done what they've done with that is truly amazing and inspiring," Covey said.

Workplace Safety Real Heroes Award: Jennifer Cyr, Christina Cifelli, Michelle “Micky” Gogan

Last July, during a busy Tuesday night at the Auburn-Lewiston YMCA, Cifelli led an exercise class. Cyr had joined for the first time. Gogan rode a spinning bike nearby.

Suddenly, a man named Craig in the back of the room collapsed. His lips turned blue, his eyes rolled back. After checking for a pulse, Cyr jumped in with chest compressions. Gogan began CPR breaths. Cifelli shocked him twice with a portable AED.

Craig's color started coming back.

The man couldn't make it Tuesday, so he asked Red Cross organizers to extend his gratitude.

"What is ironic, I have CPR recertification tonight," Cifelli said. "It was clearly a miracle, and I'm just so grateful for these ladies for being there that day. I am so glad that Craig is able to go to work today."

Youth Real Heroes Award: Amanda Garboski

Garboski, a recent high school graduate from Belgrade, was baby-sitting two children for the first time in North Belgrade in August when the home's smoke detector went off.

She found flames by the garage.

Garboski ushered the kids and family dog outside, called 911 and kept the children calm as the house burned.

She accepted the award while wiping away tears.

Someone told her after the fire, "'Everything the kids lost can be replaced and they can't (be),' and that sticks to me," she said.

Blood Services Real Heroes Award: Fire Capt. Eugene "Chip" Keene

A blood drive spearheaded by Keene on Sept. 11, 2011, became a major community event and doubled the Red Cross's goal, collecting almost 100 units.

A follow-up blood drive last year drew 50 units.

"As grateful as I am to receive this, it really needs to go out to the masses," said Keene, who credited dozens with pitching in.

International Outreach Real Heroes Award: Bill Legere

Legere's Foundation for Hope and Grace has supported children at a school in Ecuador and a hospital in India.

"I prefer to be with the broken and I prefer to be with the vulnerable," said Legere, of Auburn. "I put my toe in the water and ask people to follow me and they do, and I'm very appreciative of that."

His work in India has also involved helping women pulled into sex trafficking and their children.

"They're a resilient bunch and they're worthy of our efforts," Legere said.

Lifesaving Real Heroes Award: Brooke Pinkham

Pinkham, an ER and cardiac intensive care unit nurse, had been out with her sister last August. They'd been to the beach and planned to visit their brother's grave. An Army medic who'd done two tours overseas, he'd returned home and died in a car accident a year before.

Pinkham had never stopped at the scene of a car accident, but this day she did. She had driven up behind a bad crash on Route 4 in Auburn. A truck had barreled into a car, seriously injuring 5-year-old Danika DeMayo.

Pinkham kept the little girl's head stable, and her airways clear, and relayed to medics en route how serious it was.

"Brooke said she can't believe how calm she was in what she called the longest nine minutes of her life," event emcee Steve Minich said.

Danika's mother, Amy Liberman, gave Pinkham a big bouquet of pink, red and white roses.

"Thank you so much, Brooke," Liberman said through sobs.

Then she introduced a smiling 6-year-old in a bright blue dress. "This is Danika, everyone," and everyone clapped.

Military Real Heroes Award: Jeremy Gilley

Gilley, a 26-year-old Iraq war veteran, had been driving in Augusta on his way home with a cousin when they saw a car that looked like it had hit a guardrail in December 2011. The cousin called 911 while Gilley checked on the driver, who was, unexpectedly, a former high school classmate.

As he tried to help the classmate from the car, a minivan struck Gilley, pinning him between the cars and severing his legs. He stayed conscious long enough to coach his cousin and the minivan driver in how to use his belt as a tourniquet.

The Waterville man stood to accept the award and received the morning's only standing ovation.

He thanked the Red Cross, saying, "If it wasn't for your generosity and service, I wouldn't be here today."

Public Safety Real Heroes Award: Officer Brandon Kelly

Officer Kelly said he hadn't known at the time whether Deloris Fellner would make it.

She'd lost 14 units of blood, two-thirds of the blood in her body.

Her husband, Robert, worried that he'd spend his first Christmas without his wife of 20 years. A former Army combat medic, he'd been the first to start applying towels to her cuts.

"When she threatened to punch a nurse, I knew she was feeling better," joked Robert Fellner, before turning serious. "A miracle happened."


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Nice to read stories about everyday heroes who made a difference because they cared.


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