2014-15 Indiana Heroes Award Recipients

The Indiana Heroes program presented by Citizens Energy Group serves as one of the premier community outreach programs of the Indiana Pacers. This program honors an individual(s) who have made an overwhelming impact on the lives of others and who, through their unique commitment and humanitarian spirit, have made exceptional and lasting contributions to our community and our State.

The Indiana Pacers are now accepting nominations Indiana Pacers Indiana Heroes Award Program presented by Citizens Energy Group. Click Here to nominate a neighbor, friend or relative who is a firefighter, policeman, rescue worker, or just an everyday hero like a teacher, nurse or community leader making a difference. Nominations must include the nominee’s name, street address, city, state, zip code, phone number and email address, along with a short description of why this nominee is deserving of the award. The description should include examples of the nominee’s level of commitment, as well as any lasting contributions to the community.

October 29
Fallen IMPD Officer Perry Renn

Officer Perry Renn, a 22-year veteran who served on IMPD's North District, passed away after being shot in the line of duty.

Officer Renn was called to a scene where gunfire was reported at 34th and Forest Manor Avenue. Shortly afterward, Renn and the suspect began shooting at each other in a nearby alley, with multiple rounds from a high-powered rifle penetrating Officer Renn’s vest..

Both were injured and taken to Eskenazi Hospital. A line of police cars cleared a path down the interstate for the ambulance rushing Officer Renn to the emergency room. More than 100 officers responded and went to the scene or waited at the hospital after hearing about the shooting. Support and hope gave way to grief and anger when later that evening, IMPD Police Chief Rick Hite broke the news, announcing over the police radio that Renn had succumbed from his injuries.

IMPD Officer Perry Renn was appointed to the Indianapolis Police Department on December 27, 1993. Officer Renn worked as a street patrol officer his entire career serving the East and North Districts.

Officer Renn was awarded the Medal of Bravery in 2003 and received a Letter of Commendation in 2012 for his efforts during the 2011 Indiana State Fair stage collapse. He has also received several letters of appreciation from his supervisors.

Officer Renn is remembered as a true Indiana Hero and we are proud to honor his wife Lynn and his fellow officers for his ultimate sacrifice to our community.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

October 31
IMPD Detective David Miller

IMPD Detective David Miller was coming out of an apartment leasing office when he heard a woman screaming for help.

Miller, who was working off-duty security for the complex ran across the street toward the woman, who was crying and on the phone.

After speaking with the woman, he was informed that her baby was not breathing and face had turned blue. Miller quickly ran into the apartment, picking up the 11-month old, carried him outside, while at the same time radioing IMPD for help. Miller laid the infant on his lap and performed CPR on the child until the medics arrived.

Miller has a CPS certificate through IMPD and also studied pre-med at Purdue University before realizing he could better serve the public as a police officer rather than in the emergency room.

Miller has been called a “hero” and a “godsend angel” by the witnesses that were on the scene when the incident took place.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

November 14
Jacen & Ben Troxell

From the time Jacen & Ben were born, they both realized the sacrifices their father made as a detective with IMPD. As a preschooler, Jacen’s one wish for the world was that police officers did not get killed.

With the death of fellow officer and friend, Officer Perry Renn, Jacen, now 8 years old, was on a mission to bring his wish to life. He wanted better protection for local police officers and wanted to do it for those that are out there on the front line.

So he and his family started a project to buy special front and back bulletproof plates for officers. When used with a vest, the plates can stop rifle fire.

Jacen and Ben started the bar high, hoping to raise $10,000. That goal was reached within just 9 days and they have currently raised over $18,000. Jacen was able to present the ballistic plates to the North District Late Tact officers (Officer Perry Renn's shift), with both brothers handing each officer their plate.

If you are interested in donating to this project, visit www.gofundme.com.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

November 22
Jim McClelland

A native of Florida, McClelland has spent nearly all of his professional life with Goodwill Industries. In 1970, following three years of military service, he entered Goodwill Industries of America’s Executive Training Program in Houston. In 1972, he became Executive Vice President of Goodwill Industries in Beaumont, Texas, following which he accepted the position of Vice President-Operations of Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana, Inc., headquartered in Indianapolis. Since 1974, McClelland has been President and CEO of the Indianapolis-based Goodwill organization which, with 3,000 employees and $120 million in revenue, is one of the largest of 165 Goodwill corporations in North America.

During his career, McClelland has served on numerous not-for-profit boards at the local, national, and international levels and chaired several of them. Much of his international involvement has been through Goodwill Industries, and over the past decade, he has helped start new Goodwill organizations in South Korea.

At the local level, McClelland is a member of the Board of Visitors of the Indiana University Kelley School of Business – Indianapolis, and the Board of Governors of the Economic Club of Indiana.

McClelland has received numerous awards, including the Kenneth K. King Outstanding Management Award from Goodwill Industries International. In December 2000, he was named Nonprofit Executive of the Year by The NonProfit Times, a national business publication for nonprofit management; in 2009, he was inducted into the Central Indiana Business Hall of Fame; and in 2011, he received the Distinguished Entrepreneur Award from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He is also the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from Christian Theological Seminary.

McClelland earned a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering degree from Georgia Tech and an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.

On August 7, 2014, McClelland announced his intention to retire from the position on June 30, 2015. A committee led by former Goodwill board chairman, Owen B. (“Bud”) Melton, Jr., that includes four other past board chairs, among others, will conduct the search for McClelland’s successor.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

November 28
Detective Kurt Spivey

Detective Spivey's ongoing efforts in the annual Police & Fire 911 Slugfest, not only is a night which many officers and firefighters look forward to every year, all proceeds go to the Make a Wish foundation.

The "slugfest" is a project and idea that Detective Spivey facilitates on his own time, dedicating countless hours in order to make this event happen. In addition, Detective Spivey also coordinates Police Officers volunteering their time to serve as security for numerous Make a Wish events throughout the year.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

December 10
Matt Bonnell

Twin Lakes Senior Matt Bonnell performed the Heimlich maneuver on a special needs student who was choking during lunchtime.

Bonnell was paired with the student through a program called "Best Buddies" which offers peer tutoring. He is thankful to be called their true friend.

Bonnell was honored at school, and also by the Monticello Fire Department. Bonnell said he is thankful for the honors, but is really glad for the community support for special needs students. “Attention means nothing to me, but I feel like that shows that the community cares about what happens for these kids.”.

After graduation, Bonnell plans to further his career as a special education teacher.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

December 13
Detectives Marcus Kennedy & Bob Flack

IMPD Detectives Marcus Kennedy and Bob Flack are the true definition of “commitment and humanitarian spirit” and both have provided many years of outstanding service to our community.

Detective Marcus Kennedy and Detective Robert Flack have been police officers for a combined total of 68 years. Detectives Kennedy and Flack have spent most of their careers investigating crimes against persons, including robbery, child abuse and homicide. Detective Kennedy and Flack have investigated approximately 200 murder cases between the two of them. Over the last 12 years Detectives Kennedy and Flack have worked as partners on many of these investigations.

Detectives Kennedy and Flack have the unique ability to obtain information through their interviewing and networking abilities. In addition, their attention to detail and hard work ethic is part of their daily routine. More important than their investigative strengths, Marcus Kennedy and Robert Flack really connect with people and gain their trust. This leads to gaining cooperation and solving crimes.

On August 31, 2014, 15-year-old high school student was abducted and murdered. A fire was set to destroy evidence. This crime shocked our community and brought people together. Detectives Kennedy and Flack spent many long days and nights working this investigation. Numerous interviews were conducted, crime scenes were examined repeatedly, and crime lab specialists were constantly being utilized. Many tips came in that had to be investigated. The media and the community devoted their energies to helping solve this horrible crime. Seventy one days later, a career criminal was arrested for this murder and is awaiting trial.

Thank you Detective Marcus Kennedy and Detective Robert Flack for your commitment to our city and for a job well done.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

December 15
Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger

After 45 years of service in the Indiana National Guard, Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger has announced his retirement, stepping down in May, 2015.

Major General Umbarger was appointed as The Adjutant General of Indiana on 11 March 11, 2004, reappointed by Gov. Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., on Dec. 1, 2004 and then reappointed by Gov. Michael Pence on Dec. 13, 2012. As The Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Umbarger's primary focus is to lead the Indiana Army and Air National Guard, the Indiana Guard Reserve and state employees all totaling more than 15,800 personnel.

Major General Umbarger began his career as an enlisted Soldier for the Indiana Army National Guard in 1969. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant, infantry branch, in June 1971 after graduating from the Indiana Military Academy as a distinguished military graduate. Prior to his current assignment, Maj. Gen. Umbarger served as the deputy commanding general for the reserve component, U.S. Forces Command. Other notable assignments include the assistant division commander for training, 38th Infantry Division (Mechanized). He also served as commanding general of the 76th Infantry Brigade (Separate), which executed a very successful deployment and rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center.

Major Gen. Umbarger has directed the pre-mobilized training, deployment and redeployment of virtually all units of the Indiana Army and Air National Guard in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Maj. Gen. Umbarger previously served as a member of the Secretary of the Army’s Reserve Forces Policy Committee, and he currently serves on the Secretary of Defense’s Reserve Forces Policy Board.

January 9
Heather Fussnecker-Mova & Katie Knutson

Crispus Attucks High School teachers Katie Knutson and Heather Fussnecker found one of their 13-year old students passed out and foaming at the mouth in the stairwell of the school.

They started CPR, which didn’t work and then quickly turned to an AED device or heart defibrillator. With instructions from the device, the teachers knew exactly what to do.

Doctors say that the student suffered a form of cardiac arrest and that due to Fussnecker and Knutson’s immediate reaction, the student was released from the hospital just a week later with no brain damage.

Teachers at the high school are now receiving additional training to deal with situations like this or other students who may suffer from heart problems.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

January 16
IMPD Detective Harry Dunn

Detective Harry Dunn wears many hats. Besides devoting long hours as a Homicide Investigator for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police department, he also devotes long hours working with at risk youths and their families in our community.

Detective Dunn has implemented a new program named "Him by Her" which stands for Helping Improve Mankind By Healing Every Race. Him By Her is an after school program that teaches life skills and consequences. The program provides hands-on training for many traditional skills, and has plans to expand to include cutting edge trades. This outreach program also emphasizes building better relationships, physical and mental health, financial skills and many others. Him By Her educates our youth and their families of the consequences of poor decisions and is already endorsed by many components of the criminal justice system in Indianapolis.

Detective Dunn not only works tirelessly day and night to arrest criminals and get them off the street, but he works tirelessly as a youth advocate to keep our youth off the streets and serve as productive members of our society.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

January 31
Riley Champions

The Riley Champions Presented by Kroger program honors Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health patients who have inspired communities with their bravery and commitment to help others.

These Riley Champions have persevered through their own medical journeys and have translated their struggles into philanthropy within their communities. The 2015 Riley Champions Presented by Kroger are Dee Jones of Evansville, Camille Kerlin of Warsaw, Abbie Laker of Zionsville, Austin McGowan of South Bend, Addison Misch of Markle, Rex Stillions of Bloomington, Emma Stumpf of Greenwood, and Rosie Tarlton of Anderson.

Please join Kroger and the Indiana Pacers in honoring these remarkable Riley Hospital patients.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

February 27
Captain Brian Nanavaty

The Office of Professional Development and Wellness, under the leadership of Captain Brian Nanavaty, was on the forefront in 2014 continuing to raise the level of "organizational resiliency" for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. With a very small staff, Captain Nanavaty has continued the methodology and reinforced the commitment of leaders within the agency to assist officers in reaching their personal and professional potential through wellness and early intervention and development and educational programs designed to promote individual officer resiliency.

Captain Nanavaty has developed a network of relationships both inside and outside the department to substantially advance the department's goal of improving, maintaining and sustaining officer wellness and development. His office triaged, managed and followed up on over 141officers in some form of distress during 2014, with many of his personal cases being managed while he was away in Quantico Virginia at the FBI National Academy. Through wellness and mentoring training, conferences, instructional videos, symposiums and internet links, the OPDW has reached thousands of law enforcement officers, civilians, academics and clinicians. During 2014 Capt. Nanavaty was requested and instructed for local, state, federal and private agencies. In 2014, Captain Nanavaty presented at the Indiana Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, FOP and FBI conferences.

Captain Nanavaty made significant strides in branding what is now a nationally recognized program within the IMPD. His efforts have come at no small sacrifice. With NO official budget, and personally triaging many cases of officers in distress, the OPDW cost the department zero in overtime dollars in 2014. As a direct result of Captain Nanavaty's leadership in the Office of Professional Development and Wellness, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has established a legacy of protecting its most valuable organizational resource.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

Pictured: Commander David Hofmann

March 1
James Moseley and Jim Edwards

Dr. James G. Moseley, the 15th president of Franklin College, has announced that he will retire at the end of the next academic year, June 30, 2015. “When Candace and I came to Franklin College in 2002, we hoped that things would go so well that I would be here as president for 10 years, at which point we would retire. We are now completing year 12 and looking forward to number 13. Both personally and professionally, Franklin College has exceeded every expectation we had. We feel privileged and grateful for these years and for what has truly been the capstone of my career.”

“Under the president’s leadership, Franklin College has realized growth and enrichment, providing an excellent platform for continued success,” said Christine Fields, chair of the board of trustees. “Enrollment has grown and stabilized with 1,000 students on campus, budgets are balanced, the endowment has recovered from the recession, and interest from prospective students is particularly strong.”

“Franklin students and their experiences are most important to us, and this year we received strong affirmation from the National Survey of Student Engagement,” Fields said. The 2013 survey indicated that 94 percent of first-year students participated in a “high-impact practice,” such as a service-learning program, undergraduate research with a faculty member or course with a group-learning component.

Equally important, she noted, the internship program is robust and growing with more than 97 percent of all students completing at least one internship experience before graduating. “These and many other assets created and supported by Dr. Moseley, the faculty, and staff combine to create our ongoing success in producing graduates who are strong candidates for jobs and graduate school,” Fields said.

“Innovative student learning experiences are part of the revamped liberal arts curriculum led by Dr. Moseley,” Fields said. “We have students reporting at the Statehouse, students studying abroad, students involved in campus projects like our sustainability initiative as well as service-learning experiences.”

“Another hallmark of Dr. Moseley’s tenure has been connectivity, developing relationships with businesses, communities and organizations throughout the region,” Fields said. “Our relationship with Indianapolis is stronger than ever,” Fields said. “In addition to Franklin College’s connections through internship placements, Dr. Moseley’s involvement with the Economic Club of Indiana (board and past president), WFYI (board) and NCAA (presidents’ council) has been invaluable to the institution,” she said.

A key campus improvement and expansion was Grizzly Park on 78 acres of acquired farmland adjacent to the campus. The $5.8 million complex, funded entirely through private donations, includes a track and field complex, softball and baseball fields, tennis courts, practice fields for intramurals, soccer and lacrosse, a picnic pavilion and a walking and running trail. The park also includes an urban forest of trees and plants native to Indiana as well as retention ponds, all of which provide students opportunities for scientific field studies.

“While this project included many improvements for our fitness and athletic programs, we also added amenities to create a wonderful space for the Franklin community,” Moseley explained. “Together with outstanding coaches, our work to upgrade athletic facilities and programs has contributed to strengthening football, soccer, track and field, tennis and baseball teams as well as women’s softball and lacrosse,” Moseley said.

Other campus improvements include the Von Boll Welcome Center for prospective students and their families and the redesign/expansion of the Neapolitan Student Center. A Victorian house once the President’s Home was renovated and repurposed as the Neapolitan Alumni House, serving as a residence for visiting faculty and special college guests.

The campus master plan also calls for the development and construction of a Franklin College science center to complement Central Indiana’s increasing stature as a life sciences region. “We’ve completed our due diligence and have a good start on the initial financial support. In the next year, moving the project forward will be my highest priority,” Moseley said.

“Dr. Moseley has been an excellent leader for Franklin, and his commitment to continuity and development during the next 12 months are most appreciated,” Fields said.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

Dr. James L. Edwards, president of Anderson University, has announced his plans to conclude his presidency by the end of the 2014-15 academic year. His last year of service will mark 25 years of distinguished leadership as president of Anderson University. Currently, he is the longest serving president (in both public and private universities) in the State of Indiana. Edwards has served as president of Anderson University since 1990 and is only the fourth person to hold the office in the school’s 97-year history.

“Anderson University has been blessed to have four outstanding presidents in her history,” said Lou Gerig, chair of the Anderson University board of Trustees. “Jim and Deanna Edwards have given their lives to Anderson University for 24 years. It has been my pleasure and honor to serve as chair of the board and partner in leadership with Dr. Edwards for most of that tenure. We have seen significant growth in so many areas during this time. Dr. Edwards has positioned Anderson University as a distinguished Christian institution and has taken the door of the university to Indianapolis and beyond. He has advanced the mission of AU greatly through facilities, programs and financial support. A process of presidential transition will be announced in the coming days.

Since the founding in 1917, Anderson University has been blessed to have great leadership and we are confident that this tradition will continue into future.”

During his tenure as president, Dr. Edwards has overseen several comprehensive capital campaigns raising funding support totaling more than $205 million dollars. A number of major facilities have been constructed during his presidency including the Kardatzke Wellness Center, York Performance Hall, York Seminary Village, additions onto Decker Hall and Hartung Hall, a new business school, the Flagship Enterprise Center and improvements to residence halls and many existing campus facilities.

Dr. Edwards has extensive involvement in the arena of higher education in Indiana and nationally and has been a busy community leader during his tenure. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He has also served as a director and officer of the board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, as chair of the board for Independent Colleges of Indiana and a member of the Steering Committee of the Indiana Leadership Prayer Breakfast. He holds board membership on the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Association and served as chair of Indiana Campus Compact.

Locally, Dr. Edwards has served on the board of directors of the Madison County Community Foundation, the Corporation for Economic Development of Madison County and First Merchants Bank of Central Indiana. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Anderson where he was honored with the 2003 Community Image Award. He has served on the Ministries Council of the Church of God, the board of directors of St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital, Citizens Banking Company and the United Way.

Prior to his election as president of Anderson University, Dr. Edwards was president and chief executive officer for Warner Press, publishing house for the Church of God. In this assignment, he directed the work of the largest religious publisher in Indiana.

An ordained minister, Dr. Edwards has served the Church of God in a variety of assignments including serving in senior pastoral leadership in a number of major churches across the country. Prior to national executive service, he was senior pastor of the Meadow Park Church of God in Columbus, Ohio. Earlier pastorates were in Indiana and Michigan.

Edwards is a graduate of Anderson University and the Anderson University School of Theology. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Educational Policy and Leadership at the Ohio State University.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

March 6
Dave Miner

Since his days at Purdue University, Dave Miner has spent his free time volunteering to help feed the hungry. And now, years later, he is determined as ever to make sure everyone has a healthy meal.

As head of the Interfaith Hunger Initiative and chairman of Indy Hunger Network, Miner works to bring together the 200 plus food banks and pantries in the metro area to better serve the needy.

Bringing people together and solving problems is what he does best, even at the national level as a Board Member for Bread for the World. In addition, Miner hopes that by the end of next year there is enough food for everyone who needs it in Marion County.

For his dedication and commitment to the Indianapolis area, Miner was recently awarded the WRTV-6 Jefferson Award.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

March 14
Officer Christine Harrison

Officer Harrison cares deeply about her work as a field patrol officer and is equally committed to helping the citizens she serves.

Quietly, and behind the scenes, Officer Harrison understands the importance in police-community relationships and the value it has for both sides of this equation. One of Officer Harrison’s contributions of the youth of our city is coaching. Several times a week, after working her normal tour of duty in the field, Christine changes uniforms to coach young women in basketball.

However, the skills these young ladies learn extend far beyond basketball and help them learn about responsibility, dedication, teamwork, and other attributes which will help them in their daily lives. Officer Harrison’s work is extremely important and making a difference in the lives of many.

Her good work was recently profiled in a news feature on Channel 13 television. In the story, the reporter described Officer Harrison’s work as follows:

“Some Indianapolis high school girls are getting some tough love on the basketball court from their coach. It might have something to do with the fact that off the court, their coach is police officer who's seen it all.

Indianapolis Metro Police Officer Christine Harrison patrols in IMPD's Southwest District. In her 20 years on the force, she's worked domestic violence, robbery, the violent crimes unit and even homicide.

Several days out of the week, after spending all day in her police uniform, once at home, Harrison changes and is back out the door wearing a different uniform for coaching girls' basketball.

Harrison coaches the Lady Wolves for Providence Cristo Rey, and sometimes the challenges can be as tough as police work. Some of the girls on the team live in some of Indianapolis' toughest neighborhoods.

Shooting Guard Grace Allen explained their team motto, "got your back."

"We are going to have your back not only on the court, but have your back in school, and keep you right on track and make sure you are doing what you need to do," she said.

Basketball practice is no joke, and sometimes the emotion is raw, as is the pressure to perform.

"We get more of the coach, like a mother figure to some of the young ladies, so we don't get much of the police officer," said Dealleny Harvey, a 17-year-old point guard, who adds that Harrison is strict like a police officer.

"She's cool. She can be hard on you. But I am used to that because I have had her for like two or three years," said Demaelyun Harvey, shooting guard.

Coach Harrison holds back nothing when it comes to pushing the girls on and off the court. That's because for some of them, the game takes their focus off the crime they see in their neighborhoods and puts it on their game skills and academics.

Pearlee Jackson, from the 42nd and Mitthoeffer area, says the tough love coaching motivates her.

"I love basketball so much, I am keeping up my grades so I can play," said the point guard, who added that her grades are good. "I am a senior and this is my last year so I gotta go hard."

In October, Coach Harrison surprised the Lady Wolves with new basketball shoes just minutes before their first game of the season. Although the new shoes came despite no money in the team budget, they paid off for game one as the Lady Wolves walked away with a win.

But Coach Harrison's real goal for the girls is to translate winning on the court to winning off the court.

"I feel like she is always on my back. She feels like a can play in college because I want to play in college, so she pushes me to go the extra mile," said Harvey.

“She wants nothing but the best for us," said Jackson.

"It can be pretty tough because she has a very authoritative tone but it comes from a good heart and it's tough love which is what we need," said Allen.

The team is still in need of financial assistance for items like shoes, equipment and travel expenses. “

Officer Harrison deserves to be recognized for this “above and beyond” work and IMPD is extremely proud of her and honored to serve with her within the Southwest District.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

March 21
Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig

Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig was 26 years old when he was killed in Syria in mid-November. He was an Indianapolis native and trained as an Emergency Medical Technician. While visiting Beirut in 2012 during Spring Break at Butler University, Kassig felt called to ease the suffering of innocent people displaced by Syria’s civil war. In May of that same year he moved to Lebanon to work as a volunteer medical assistant in border hospitals treating Palestinian refugees and later those fleeing the growing Syrian conflict.

Later that fall, Kassig founded SERA (Special Emergency Response & Assistance) that was dedicated to providing first-response humanitarian aid for refugees fleeing the widening civil war in Syria. Kassig sourced and delivered food and medical supplies to the growing camps on both sides of the Syrian border. In addition, he also provided primary trauma care and first aid training to civilians inside Syria.

In October, 2013 Kassig was detained while traveling in an ambulance as part of a project for SERA. While is tragic death was horrific, he is remembered around the world for how he lived. His heroic life and selfless acts have already inspired others to donate to the Syrian crisis and to dedicate the lives to humanitarian causes.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

Pictured: The parents of Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig

March 23
Dr. Nasser H. Hanna and Dr. Lawrence H. Einhorn

Dr. Nasser H. Hanna is the Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine (Division of Hematology/Oncology) at the IU School of Medicine.

Dr. Nasser’s specialty and interest lies in the thoracic oncology and germ cell tumors. He is currently involved in a multi-disciplinary thoracic clinic at IU one day a week and has developed and runs a multi-disciplinary thoracic clinic at the VA. The Thoracic Oncology Program is involved in many studies in various aspects of lung cancer research including areas of epidermal growth factor receptor inhibition, anti-angiogenesis, cell-cycle inhibitors, and novel chemotherapeutic agents. In addition, the Thoracic Oncology Program is sponsoring basic science research as it pertains to lung cancer. In addition, Dr. Nasser is involved in the research and treatment of testicular cancer.

Dr. Nasser did his fellowship at Indiana University Medical Center, his residency at
University of Iowa, Iowa City, and his Medical Degree at the University of Missouri.

Dr. Einhorn pioneered the development of the life-saving medical treatment in 1974 for testicular cancer, increasing the cure rate from 10% to 95% (Einhorn & Williams 1980).

Dr. Einhorn received a B.S. from Indiana University in 1965 and his M.D. from the University of Iowa in 1968. He served his internship and residency at IU Medical Center, followed by a fellowship in Hematology/Oncology in 1971-72. He also had a fellowship in oncology at the M.D. Anderson Hospital Tumor Institute in Houston, Texas. He returned to IU Medical Center in 1973 and was named Distinguished Professor of Medicine in 1987. He became the first Lance Armstrong Foundation Professor of Oncology in 2006.

Dr. Einhorn has received numerous honors in his career including the Glenn Irwin Experience Excellence Award in 1996, Riley Distinguished lecturer in 1993, the Kettering Prize Cancer Research-General Motors Foundation in 1992, ACCC Clinical Oncology Award in 1991, the Distinguished Clinician Award, Milken Foundation, 1989, Willis Stetson Award and Lecture, University of Pennsylvania, 1989, and the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award for Cancer Research presented at the 1981 American Association of Cancer Research Meeting, Washington, D.C. He was awarded the Herman B Wells Visionary Award in 2001. He was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences and American Philosophical Society in 2002.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

March 29
Susie Harmless

The Rotary Club of Indianapolis’ own Executive Director, Susie Harmless, was raised as a daughter of a career Air Force Officer. She, her sister and mother joyfully followed Dad all over the country and the world where she was blessed to experience living in Germany and Japan. She began her college career at the University of Maryland in Munich, Germany and finished her degree in Political Science on the main campus at College Park, Maryland.

Upon retirement from the Air Force, her father became Director of Development for DePauw University in Greencastle. It was the summer between her Junior and Senior years that she met her husband and partner for life, Michael. Soon after college they married, had one (1) wonderful daughter, Heather, and have lived in Greencastle for thirty (30) years. Michael served the community of Greencastle for eight (8) years as the Mayor of Greencastle and later joined Crowe Horwath as a Director. Their daughter, Heather, Director of Client Services for Multiple Sclerosis of Indiana is married to Bart who is employed by Baldwin & Lyons.

Prior to joining Rotary as our Executive Director, Susie enjoyed a career in state government working for the Indiana Department of Commerce where she was Director of Community Development and also worked within the Indiana Department of Revenue. Her time with Rotary has gone very quickly for her over these past six (6) years and she feels that Rotary is never a dull moment. The continual planning for wonderful speakers/meetings each week keeps her and staff very active to meet the requirements of the club meetings and our members. Susie truly enjoys, and would say her favorite piece of Rotary is being able to have interaction with club members from such diverse backgrounds. She feels continually enriched by knowing our members, and by planning and serving the transitions from year to year with the Rotary’s Board.

Rotary not only touches Susie’s professional life, but also touches her personally as she feels better informed on issues of the state and world which is a direct result of the quality of our programs, feels connected internationally due to her attendance and participation in the International Convention and is pleased to be able to serve others through the work that Rotary does here and in the world.

Susie’s hobbies and interests include loving to cook, consuming wonderful wine and traveling. She has spent some time recently being involved with the American Pianist Association as she loves music.

Her only regret may be that she did not go to law school to obtain a degree as she has always wanted to be an attorney. Her continued drive each day comes from her father’s influence on her throughout her life where he encouraged her to “always try harder” which is why she is so pleased to see our club always reaching to improve and to try harder to be the best service club in the state.

When asked whose the most interesting person Susie has ever met, she quickly noted that her two (2) meetings with Hillary Clinton rank high on her list as they both shared their passions for public and community service for others.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

April 5
Drake Abramson

Drake, a 16-year old high school sophomore has dedicated himself to being an advocate for the epilepsy community, as well as for other students facing health & social challenges.

At the age of 13, Drake was diagnosed with Complex Partial Epilepsy. Since then, he has hosted and attended numerous events to raise awareness and educate others about epilepsy and seizures. Still feeling like he was not doing enough, Drake started his own foundation ThinkBrave.

It is through ThinkBrave that last spring Drake was able to provide a $5,000 scholarship to a student facing health challenges and will again be able to do so this spring. Drake has met with many lawmakers to help update class curriculum in the public schools to include epilepsy and seizure education.

Drake was honored at the Times BusINess Magazine 20 Under 40 Event as the Leader of Tomorrow and will be representing the Epilepsy Foundation of Indiana in Washington DC for Teens Speak Up.

While keeping his status as an honor roll student, Drake continues to plan and implement fundraisers to help those with not only epilepsy, but other health and social challenges facing today’s youth.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

April 12
Dr. Carolyn Cunningham

Dr. Cunningham has been a pivotal player in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease in Central Indiana. She cared for her mother, who lived with Alzheimer’s disease, until her passing in 1989. She saw the need for support for families affected by Alzheimer’s, including her own. Shortly after her mother’s death, Dr. Cunningham joined the small, newly-affiliated local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association as Education Committee Chair, helping design programs to educate families on disease basics and care plans. In this role, Dr. Cunningham became one of the first volunteers of what would later become the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter and has faithfully served through present day.

For 26 years, Dr. Cunningham has served on the Board of Directors as President, Member at Large and Medical & Scientific Counsel Member. She has also served as National Board Member for the Alzheimer’s Association, representing more than 100,000 Hoosiers living with Alzheimer’s disease and their 330,000 caregivers.

Dr. Cunningham has seen Alzheimer’s disease become a national epidemic as the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States without a way to cure, prevent or slow progression. She advocates for further Alzheimer’s disease research funding, greater awareness of the disease and family and caregiver education. Her knowledge and leadership has paved the way for the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter, serving 75,000 individuals annually. Through Dr. Cunningham’s support, thousands of Indiana residents have been given education, resources and hope for a world without Alzheimer’s disease.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipient

April 14
Amy and Tony Pearson, Lapel Police Department and Lapel Stony Creek Fire Department

Last fall, while out for a walk, Amy and Tony Pearson discovered an individual lying on the street that had suffered a cardiac arrest and called 911. The Pearsons remained with the victim until help arrived from the Lapel Police and Fire Departments. CPR was performed, followed by deployment of their AED (Automated External Defibrillators).

First responders shocked the victim twice before his heart started beating and he was then was rushed to the hospital where he has since made a full recovery.

The victim is very thankful to all of those that rushed to his aid that day, without their assistance, he would not be considered “the miracle man”.

Indiana Heroes Award Recipients


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