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L-A Police and Fire Depts., local “heroes” honored by Red Cross

Three L-A residents, along with four departments of first responders in the Lewiston-Auburn region, are among those to be honored this year as “Real Heroes” by the American Red Cross of Maine.

“These are truly special people who share the common thread of taking action to help others,” says Jennifer Gaylord, Branch Manager of the United Valley office of the Red Cross. “This year, as a special recognition, we’re honoring the Fire and Police Departments from Auburn and Lewiston for their tremendous work during the 2013 Lewiston fires.”

Receiving the “Blood Real Heroes Award” is Hallie Twomey of Auburn. Twomey is a supporter of giving the gift of life through blood drives and organ donation. She tragically lost her son to suicide four years ago and organizes an annual blood drive in his honor. Twomey and her husband gave the ultimate gift of life by choosing to donate their son’s organs. In addition, Twomey has raised thousands of dollars for the New England Organ Bank, is currently in the live organ donation process, and actively promotes organ donation awareness.

Receiving the “Youth Lifesaving Real Heroes Award” is Andrew Bilodeau of Lewiston. Bilodeau, 14, demonstrated true heroism by risking his own life to save that of a drowning boy half his age when, without concern for his own safety, he pulled seven-year-old Jacob Conary from the Androscoggin River last July. By acting quickly, he was able to grab onto Conary and pull him to shore, where the youngster received lifesaving assistance.

Receiving the “Humanitarian Real Heroes Award” is Pawel Kruszewski of Auburn. Kruszewski demonstrated true heroism when he approached a burning vehicle and pulled its three occupants to safety. Upon witnessing the vehicle roll and burst into flames, he immediately acted to save the passengers. Although he only sustained minor injuries from broken glass while attempting to remove the driver, He risked his life by approaching the burning vehicle. “It is my strong belief that Pawel saved the lives of all three occupants,” says Sergeant Barry Schmieks of the Auburn Police Department.

Receiving special recognition this year are the Lewiston and Auburn Police and Fire Departments. When a series of fires broke out in Lewiston in the spring of 2013, the Fire and Police Departments of the Twin Cities sprang into action to perform a multitude of vital tasks, from putting out the fires to rounding up those responsible. The departments rescued and aided the victims, took a lead role in partnerships with the Red Cross and other social service agencies, and reassured a worried public. In addition to dealing with the immediate disaster, they played a leading role in helping the cities and its citizens return to normalcy.

A not-for-profit organization that depends upon volunteers and the generosity of the public to perform its mission, the American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; procures about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. For more information, see MaineRedCross.org.

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