Chardon Leader, 9 Others Named Red Cross ‘Heroes’

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MENTOR, Ohio – They’ve inspired the community, and now are being called heroes.

The American Red Cross recognized 10 local heroes for their extraordinary efforts in Lake and Geauga counties.

“Certainly look around the room and there’s so many people who’ve spent so much time giving back to their community, and it’s a big honor to be among them,” said Lake County Dr. Howard Mell.

This past year, Mell started a local hands-only CPR initiative, which trained emergency personnel and 10,000 Lake County residents the new CPR method. Mell said that method has led to more success rates in hospitals, essentially saving lives.

“I really appreciate the Red Cross taking the time to honor us,” he said. “It’s actually a team effort, and I accept this really on behalf of the whole group working on improving survival.”

Lake County honorees include:

- Dr. Howard Mell

- Cristen Kane, the Citizen Corps Coordinator for RSVP of Lake County

- Dr. Gerald Lackey of Lake County Free Clinic

- Organ donor Maureen Kelly

- Local volunteer Mike Sukalac

Geauga County honorees include:

- Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for kids in Geauga County

- University Hospital’s Seidman Cancer Center

- Sr. Prir Schazad, a 20-year-old horse that had helped many people with special needs

- Ken Anderson of Meals on Wheels

- Ellen Ondrey, communication director of the Chardon School District

Ondrey was recognized with her work after the Chardon High School shooting tragedy this year. Dozens of the medical first responders joined her at the Red Cross Heroes ceremony.

“What happened on February 27 was more difficult than any of us could ever imagine, but the incredible acts of kindness made our jobs a lot easier,” she said.

Ondrey has worked with the district for 14 years.

While many say she’s inspired the community, she said the community has inspired her.

“I’m so humbled,” Ondrey said. “There were so many folks in Chardon who stepped up that day and did just incredible things. And I like to think I’m accepting this award on behalf of all of those folks in Chardon who did those things. To be at a breakfast like this today, and see there are so many other people doing great things, it’s, as they mention, you just leave this event inspired to do great things.”

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