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American Red Cross honoring Southeast Massachusetts heroes



Local heroes are being honored next month by the American Red Cross at their annual breakfast.

The American Red Cross Heroes Breakfast is the largest annual fundraising event for the Cape, Islands and Southeast MA chapter. More than 500 heroes, individuals, community leaders, business owners, family and friends will be in attendance. At the breakfast, local heroes, whether through saving a life or enriching and transforming lives over years of service to the community, will be honored.

The honorees and their story:

Community Impact Hero- Sargent Sean Gannon, Yarmouth Police Department (deceased)

Sgt. Sean Gannon was killed in the line of duty last April but that is not the reason he is a hero to our community. Sean, from a very young age, knew to lead people, how to help those in need and how to fight evil. Working his way up to be a K9 Officer from a public safety officer At Stonehill College, working the midnight shift, Sean found a home in local police work, caring for his community and working together with cops with integrity. Sean was Big Brother on the Cape and continued to connect with people who needed help. He used his K9 to not only find a fleeing suspect but to help find an elderly person with dementia. Where ever he was needed, that’s where Sean wanted to be.

Life Saving Hero- Rosemary Heath (Taunton)

In May 2016, Rosemary Heath’s husband George was murdered while saving the life of a waitress being attacked by a deranged knife welding man. Rosemary grabbed the waitress and pulled her to safety while George went after the attacker and was killed. Since then, Rosemary has made it her mission to keep George’s heroic efforts alive and to keep a promise she made to him. George had asked Rosemary that if he were to die before her that his organs would be donated to help others. Unfortunately, due to circumstances around his death this could not happen for George. So, Rosemary took it upon herself to donate a kidney to someone she didn’t know. She has fully recovered and still supports all her good works in George’s name, keeping his memory and spirit alive and saving lives along the way.

Professional Heroes- Seekonk Police Department

Officer Michael Knox and Officer Wayne Thornhill: In May 2018, assisted an elderly woman who was having trouble breathing. Officer Knox performed CPR for SEVEN minutes before Officer Thornhill arrived to take over. Though she had no pulse ad was not breathing, these two officers resuscitated her and was transported to a local hospital and survived thanks to the officers’ quick thinking and action.

Officers James Nelson & Alicia Kelly: In June 2018, Officer Nelson responded to a call to help someone who had collapsed on a racetrack who had no pulse and wasn’t breathing. Officer Nelson started CPR and Officer Kelly arrived and applied oxygen and took over the chest compressions. They used an AED and obtained a pulse on the victim and was then safely transported to a local hospital. He survived due to the officers’ quick actions.

Professional Hero- John Munise, Taunton Police Department (deceased)

After a brief illness, Officer John Munise died in October 2018 after 35 years of serving the Taunton community as a police officer. John chose to work with the most vulnerable and needy individuals. He had a frequent presence at public housing developments and formed special relationships with the families and children. They loved, trusted and respected him. He also worked closely with senior citizens, helping them organize special functions and was often their personal chauffeur. His most recent passion was working with the Drug Court. He nurtured a personal relationship with the participants and was deeply invested in their success. When they stumbled, he was there to lift them up. He enhanced the quality of life for countless people.

Armed Forces Hero- Christopher E. Azevedo (New Bedford)

Chris is a military veteran and also a recently retired New Bedford Fire Fighter who is devoting his life to helping others suffering from a combat-related brain injury. Chris was injured during his deployment to Iraq as a member of the Army National Guard when an IED hit his vehicle. Though he continues to battle PTSD from his service, he has spent the past 4 years helping veterans be the best versions of themselves by talking with them and sharing his own experiences. He has helped veterans from Florida to Missouri to Illinois.

Professional Hero- Peter McClelland (Yarmouthport)

Retired Yarmouth Police Officer Peter McClelland went above and beyond the call of duty following the death of Sgt. Sean Gannon and the injury of Sgt. Gannon’s K9 partner, Nero last April. McClelland helped with the rescue of Nero in the house where he was injured, carried the severely wounded Nero out in his arms and did not leave Nero’s side for the next five months. Officer McClelland slept beside K9 Nero in his cage during his hospital stay to help Nero remain calm and relaxed. He has helped rehabilitate Nero who is now fully recovered and lives with Sgt. Gannon’s wife, Dara, who says McClelland still comes over to visit Nero in his retirement.

Life Saving Hero- Lorraine Cabral (Fairhaven)

Lorraine donated a lobe of her liver to save the life of her former neighbor’s brother in July 2018. After the recipient’s sister, who was all set to donate to him, was no longer able to donate due to issues with her bile ducts, Lorraine stepped right in. Lorraine quietly went through the tests, without even telling her family and “was on a mission” to help. The recipient is doing well and Lorraine is pleased just to have been a part of this life-saving experience.

Life-Saving Hero- Michael Dimond (Middleborough)

While off-duty Middleboro firefighter Michael Dimond was playing hockey at the Bridgewater Ice arena, another player, Randolph Fire Capt. Michael Rennie suffered sudden cardiac arrest. Dimond quickly assessed the victim and determined he had no pulse or respiration. He quickly started CPR and asked bystanders to get the AED and then used the AED to resuscitate Rennie, who returned to full duty in the weeks following the incident.

Professional Hero- Avery Nardone (West Yarmouth)

Avery Nardone was a lifeguard in South Yarmouth last summer when a woman ran towards her frantically screaming that her baby needed help. Avery found a two-year-old boy lying on a towel having a full seizure. Avery put her training into action and asked another lifeguard to call 9-1-1 and another to flag down rescue when they arrive. She realized the child was suffering from heat stroke and got ice from coolers of onlookers. The boy stopped seizing and when EMS arrived he was responsive. The boy fully recovered and went back to the beach two days later to thank Avery for her quick, professional work.

Armed Forces Hero- AST2 Mike Kelly (Mashpee)

US Coast Guardsmen and rescue swimmer AST2 Mike Kelly was called out to a sinking fishing vessel the Aaron & Melissa, about 75 nautical miles off the Coast of Maine. Despite 50+ knot winds and heavy turbulence, Kelly and the rest of the helicopter crew found the survivors on a raft being tossed around by 20 foot seas. Mike was lowered into the crushing waves and wind and swam towards the raft and 13 times, approached the raft, carry a crew member to the rescue basket, then do it all over again. Mike faced extreme exhaustion, nausea, back pain and had split open the webbing of his fingers bringing the crew members to safety. If not for his efforts, the four fishermen would have undoubtedly been lost.

Life Saving Hero- Dana Passante (Yarmouth)

While enjoying a summer day on Great Island with her mother and three sons, Dana Passante noticed a boy in distress in the water. She kayaked out to him and pulled him to a nearby breakwater. Her mother called 9-1-1 on Dana’s phone and Dana stayed with the boy and waited for the patrol boats to get to them. Emergency personnel all agreed that if she hadn’t gotten to the boy in time, he certainly would have drowned.

Life Saving Heroes- Jeff Turner & Doug Lindley (Nantucket)

In the middle of a blizzard Jeff Turner and Doug Lindley took on the role of hometown heroes on Nantucket. On the night of March 24th, after 2.5 years on dialysis, 3 treatments a week, Michael Fleischut received the news of a lifetime: his two organ transplants had arrived at MGH and were waiting for him to get there by 2 AM. No boats or planes were making the trip to the mainland. Even the Boston Med Flight team was grounded. Michael and his wife called out to the Nantucket Community for help and Jeff and Doug answered. The two seasoned pilots sprang into action and flew Michael to Boston, arriving just in time to receive his life-saving organ transplants.

Red Cross Blood Hero- Robert Mahoney (East Dennis)

Bob has been donating blood since 1961! He has donated over 30 gallons of blood, saving the lives of 500-750 people! AS President of the Friends of Dennis Senior Citizens he not only sponsors two blood drives a year but also coordinates (and almost single-handedly supports) the Annual Christmas Giving Program when every one of the 130 senior citizens in Dennis gets 19 presents. At the age of 83 it looks like Bob has no plans to slow down.

The breakfast is taking place on Friday, April 5th from 7:30 AM – 9:00 AM at The Resort and Conference Center at Hyannis on 35 Scudder Ave in Hyannis.

Go to Red Cross Massachusetts for tickets or more information.

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