Several locals honored at 19th annual Red Cross Acts of Courage event

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FAIRLAWN, Ohio - Could you run into a burning building, tackle a gunman or perform CPR on a total stranger?

Dozens of incredibly brave men and women who did that and more were honored Thursday night at the 19th annual American Red Cross Acts of Courage event.

The Fairlawn Hilton’s ballroom was packed with 500 people for the sold-out dinner and awards ceremony.

This year, 31 people from Summit, Portage and Medina counties were recognized for their heroic actions.

They include a number of amazing people from two Kent State University students, who performed lifesaving CPR on a high school student, to several Akron policemen who ran into a burning home to save a woman.

An unbelievable man named Peter Radke was also on the list.

The Medina family man courageously dove into Lake Erie last May to rescue an out of state teenaged distressed swimmer.  Peter helped her to safety, but was then taken under by a strong undercurrent.

Akron Police Officer Justin Winebrenner also lost his life trying to save others.

The 32-year-old was off duty last November when he was killed trying to wrestle a gun away from a threatening man at a pub.

Justin was honored at the ceremony along with his friends who were with him. Dave Wokaty was shot twice that night, but he survived.

“Justin, I believe, is the real hero,” said Dave, “If it weren’t for Justin, I wouldn’t be here. He deserves everything.”

All of the recipients were incredibly humble and grateful to receive the award.

John Underwood and Don Molesky risked their lives and literally sawed through the floor of a house to rescue a couple trapped inside their flooded basement in Cuyahoga Falls.

The couple was struggling to breathe through the floor joists when the men began hacking at the floor with an ax and electrical saw.

The homes electrical box was submerged and both men were choking on natural gas at the time but kept going.

“Just going on instinct,” said Molesky, “We wanted to get them out of there.”

The couple made it out safely and incredibly no one was hurt.

“There  is a moment where you look back, like well could’ve been a lot worse,” said Underwood. “Truly that night everything felt guided.”

The Red Cross says these award winners show that we all have the power to make a difference.

To nominate heroes, click here.

To see all of the heroes, click here.


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