Indiana Hero (April 12, 2017) - Verl Keith
April 12, 2017 - Verl Keith is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Hawks game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
2016-17 Indiana Heroes
April 12, 2017 - Verl Keith is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Hawks game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
April 4, 2017 - Chris Perdue is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Raptors game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
March 26, 2017 - Beth Lux is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-76ers game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
March 24, 2017 - IMPD officers Steve Smalley and John Wall are honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Nuggets game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
March 20, 2017 - DeShawn Thompson is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Jazz game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
March 12, 2017 - John Sigler and Daniel Orcutt are honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Heat game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Feb. 24, 2017 - Pat Pearsey is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Grizzlies game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Feb. 16, 2017 - Officer Michael Mack is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Wizards game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Feb. 11, 2017 - B.J. Yoho is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Bucks game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Feb. 4, 2017 - Markeith Drane III is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Pistons game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jan. 29, 2017 - Ruth Altherr Rench is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Rockets game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jan. 27, 2017 - Frederick Slack is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Kings game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jan. 16, 2017 - Olivia Dudas is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Pelicans game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jan. 7, 2017 - Officer Joshua Disinger is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Knicks game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jan. 1, 2017 - Faith Bryant is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Magic game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Dec. 30, 2016 - Sonia Davison is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Bulls game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Nov. 25, 2016 - Sonia Davison is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Clippers game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Nov. 25, 2016 - The late Bryan Clauson is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Nets game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Nov. 18, 2016 - Officer Patrick McPherson is honored as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Suns game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Nov. 9, 2016 - Donald Hamrick receives his award as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-76ers game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
October 26, 2016 - Rashaad Moore receives his award as part of the Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University during the Pacers-Mavericks game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
2016-17 Indiana Heroes Award Recipients
The Indiana Heroes program presented by Indiana Wesleyan University 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 Indiana Wesleyan University. 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.
Rashaad Moore, a high school sophomore, was shopping with his neighbor, a disabled veteran named Ray, when the man stated to have a heart attack inside the store. Rashad did not wait for paramedics – he immediately started providing CPR until the paramedics arrived and is now credited with saving his neighbor’s life.
His neighbor is still recovering, and should be able to communicate in the next few weeks. For Rashaad’s actions, the store rewarded him with a 50” smart TV and $100 gift card.
Story courtesy of CBS4
Only a select few Hoosiers can say they played a pivotal role in the events that have shaped America.
One of those, a Hoosier Hero who grew up during the Great Depression and World War II, and served his country during the Cold War.
"I was in the Navy reserves at the time," Donald Hamrick said. "I just decided I liked being in the Navy."
Hamrick was just a boy growing up in Terre Haute as World War II raged on halfway around the world. Still when he graduated from high school in 1950, he didn’t think twice before enlisting in the Navy.
Hamrick became a radar petty officer and was assigned to the USS Harlan R. Dickson, a destroyer sent to patrol the Mediterranean during the Cold War.
"Well I know at the Dardanelles, we were at one end of it, the open end into the Mediterranean and the Russian fleet was at the other end coming down," he said. "So we were the only ship between the Russian fleet and free water. It got a little tense."
After two years in the Navy, Hamrick returned to Terre Haute to pursue his college education, graduating from Indiana State University with degrees in physical education and math. Hamrick took a position at a local high school as a coach.
Soon after he met a man who would inspire yet another career move for Hamrick, putting him back in the service of his country.
"I had a boy in school whose father was an FBI agent," he said. "And I got to know him. He impressed me."
Hamrick trained at Quantico to become an agent himself.
Eventually he was sent to Jackson, Mississippi during the height of the Civil Rights movement where he helped investigate the murder of Civil Rights leader, and voting rights activist, Vernon Dahmer.
"One night the Klan targeted Vernon, and Vernon made a fight out of it," he said. "He was killed."
Hamrick spent just 13 months in Mississippi, but his work led to charges against 18 men including imperial wizard Sam Bowers, who ordered Dahmer's murder.
“That led to a long investigation of the Klan,” Hamrick said. “It was thought that, that we made arrests some of the imperial wizards and some of the ranking officials of the Klan.”
Hamrick moved from Mississippi to Philadelphia where he retired. It was there the U.S. Government called him to serve again, this time working in counter-terrorism.
"Occasionally be solicited to come down and work with a team out of Washington, counter-terrorism team," he said. "Worked with a couple three years, then ended up on the job full time."
Hamrick spent 20 years with counter-terrorism, spending time in the Mediterranean, the Gaza Strip and several Middle Eastern countries, something he said he would do again.
"Oh it was fun," he said. "Oh I met the King of Jordan, having a cocktail with him, kinda special."
Hamrick now spends his days at home at Rosegate, an American Senior Community in Indianapolis.
And while his name may not be in the history books, Hamrick a true Hoosier Hero, played a key role in U.S. history, leaving other Hoosiers with a word of advice.
"Keep your nose clean," he said. "It’'s a great country to live in. Just be proud of what you are."
Officer Pat McPherson has been on the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for over 15 years. He now serves on Downtown district's flex team where he is assigned to help with the homeless care and concerns.
Pat for many years has ran a gym on the city's east side called Indy Boxing and Grappling (IBG). The gym itself is a no-frills place to work hard and sweat a lot. Most of the reason it's a bare bones gym is because Pat runs it with limited finances. In the summer, there is no air conditioning. All he has are fans and a huge delivery door that he opens in the back of the gym. Although there is heat in the winter it is never too warm as the cost for the heat bill must be monitored, again, due to financial concerns.
Even with these setbacks Pat trains some of the most elite fighters in world. One of those fighters is Chris "Lights Out" Lytle (a current IFD member and former UFC fighter). Along with others, one of Pat's star coaches is "Sugar" Ray Seales. Coach Ray won an Olympic gold medal in boxing at the tragic 1972 Munich Olympic games.
But perhaps the best thing that Pat offers at Indy Boxing and Grappling is his kids boxing program. On a given night you can go into IBG to find Pat coaching so many kids there's hardly any room to walk. The best thing about Pat's kids boxing program is it's FREE. Even with financial burdens No kid ever pays for boxing.
These kids go on to win medals in Indiana's Golden Gloves and many other awards that are too many in number to mention. With Pat's leadership, IBG is constantly one of the top teams represented at the Golden Gloves.
Because of Pat McPherson's selflessness that he has shown for years and the care he shows for the kids in the community, it is our honor to choose Officer McPherson as an Indiana Hero.
In August of this year, Noblesville native and Champion Sprint Car Driver Bryan Clauson died after succumbing to injuries he had suffered in a USAC midget crash.
Clauson started racing at the age of 13 at Kokomo Speedway and was one of the most prolific drivers to come through USAC in his short career. Racking up 66 career USAC wins, and several championships, Clauson cemented his place in USAC history in just a short period.
Clauson was more than an accomplished driver – he was an organ donor. Through a simple and selfless gesture made while he was still alive — through a tragedy, there was a beacon of hope.
Clauson's family, including fiancé Lauren Stewart, started a campaign called "Chasing 200", hoping, in Clauson's honor, that 200 people would pledge to be organ donors. That goal was shattered. On the day of his memorial service more than 750 people had signed up – the goal was then increased to 2,000. Exactly one month after Clauson's death, 3,761 people had signed up on his registration website - one of the largest national organ donation campaigns ever.
With each person who is a donor, five people's lives can be saved. Since Clauson’s death, over 5,600 people have registered to become organ donors in his honor, with each donor having the potential to save eight lives....that's over 44,000 lives that Clauson has had a part in saving – and it's still growing.
For more information and to register for Bryan Clauson's Donate Life Campaign, visit www.registerme.org/campaign/bryanclauson.
A resident of Connersville, Indiana, Sonia is a shining star in an otherwise depressed community. Growing up in Connersville Sonia experienced many holiday’s where there were no presents under the tree. This inspired her to found Toss for Toys, an annual fundraiser for underprivileged children at Christmas.
This annual fundraiser includes a Corn Hold Tournament (thus the name Toss for Toys), door prizes, auction items, craft sales, etc. and is held each year at the Expo Hall at the Fayette County Fairgrounds.
Sonia pours herself into this event, making sure of its success so the children in Fayette County do not have to experience what she did as a child. Sonia brings smiles, laughter and hope to so many children and their families through her efforts. Instead of dwelling on her negative experience, she decided to turn it into a positive by becoming an active leader in her community.
This past year she provided assistance to 54 families and gifts to 121 children. For more information on Toss for Toys, you can email Sonia at email@example.com.
Officer Richard Eldridge
Officer Eldridge is currently assigned to the middle shift on IMPD's Southwest district. His patrol areas include the Mars Hill and the Rhodius Park neighborhoods where he often finds people who need help beyond the "basic" police response. Officer Eldridge recognizes that being a police officer is much more than just catching "bad guys" but involves a holistic caretaker philosophy as well. In many situations, Officer Eldridge looks beyond traditional policing to offer help when needed and his efforts also extend into his days off with service to the community through his church.
This past summer Officer Eldridge received a dispatched radio run on a report of a despondent person attempting suicide. Once on the scene, Officer Eldridge was compassionate and helped get the person the assistance they needed. However, Officer Eldridge has stayed in contact with this person which inspired them to contact the chief's office with the following compliment: "Officer Eldridge really helped me out, continues to call in and check on me and makes sure I'm doing ok and he also helped my brother whose been struggling and getting into some trouble." He concluded by saying "Officer Eldridge is great officer on the force and the department needs more officers like him that truly care and do good deeds like this for others." Another example of Officer Eldridge’s compassion was involving a mentally unstable person who travelled here from Wisconsin thinking she was being followed and under the impression she would be able to obtain a protective order in Indiana. This person was stranded at a gas station and extremely fearful that she would be followed home or harmed some way. Officer Eldridge quickly put her at ease, contacted family members so hotel arrangements could be made, and helped make sure she was checked into the hotel safely until family members could arrive. Additionally, while speaking with the person and her family, Officer Eldridge learned she was out of gas and had no money with her. Out of his usual sense of generosity, Officer Eldridge used his own money to put gas in her car.
The kind acts mentioned above are just a couple of examples of the caring nature that Officer Eldridge demonstrates daily. Beyond working in his assigned neighborhoods, Officer Eldridge often enthusiastically volunteers for the department's outreach programs such as clothe-a-child, events at Riley Hospital, bike rodeos for kids, and various fundraisers. Through Officer Eldridge's commitment to the neighborhood he serves, the bond between the community and the police has been strengthened significantly. Officer Eldridge has truly made a difference in lives of many in the community and he personifies the community policing philosophy which is essential for strong and safe neighborhoods.
Story courtesy of WISH-TV & WLFI
A 9-year old Lafayette girl wants to bring a little warmth to the holidays this year by collecting scarves and helping those in need.
Faith Bryant is asking for scarves from anyone who will donate. Faith said she heard the idea on the radio and wanted to do the same for the less fortunate in the community. "I wanted to make this holiday very warm because it's very cold, very cold," Bryant said. "My mom said it was a good idea, so we just started to say that we needed scarves."
Faith writes a personal message to go with each scarf. "I wanted to find a way to spread warmth and cheer this Christmas. Please pass on the warmth and pay it forward. Let's see how much joy we can spread this holiday," one note read.
Faith Bryant's mother, Missy Bryant, said her daughter has always wanted to help others. "She tried to get me to stop so she could give people scarves on the street, and it's not safe," Missy Bryant said, "We can't do that. It's just, that's what she wants to do."
The scarves don't have to be brand new, you can also buy them from a secondhand store. "And that's fine because...we'll take the tags off, wash them and hang them up," Missy Bryant said. She said there is so much hate in this world and Faith wants to change that.
Since starting this project, Faith says she feels great. "Cause I can help people and make them very warm," she said.
To donate to Faith's project, visit www.facebook.com/scarvesdowntown
On November 21, Flora Police Officer, Joshua Disinger responded to a house fire in the 100 block of Columbia Street. Inside the residence were four children ranging from 4-12 years of age. Officer Disinger and Carroll County Deputy Drew Yoder entered the burning residence without regard for their own life.
While inside, it was determined they would not be able to reach the children. To save their own lives, they started back towards the door. The house was filled with smoke and flames. Once Officer Disinger reached the entryway, he heard Deputy Yoder screaming inside, so he re-entered the residence where he located Deputy Yoder and pulled him outside to safety.
Yoder, who suffered burns to his hands and forehead in addition to smoke inhalation, credits Disinger with pulling him out of the fire. The deputy was airlifted to a hospital and is recovering from his injuries. Disinger was discharged from a hospital that evening after suffering from smoke inhalation. Disinger shared a note he received from Yoder on Facebook. The handwritten note simply said, "U saved my life Josh."
Both officers were extremely courageous and went well above the call of duty to save others. Tragically, the children did not survive, however the mother was flown to a local hospital and is currently recovering.
Officer Disinger continues to live out the mission of the Flora Police Department - dedicated to upholding the highest professional standards while serving the community in which we work and live.
Olivia Dudas founded the Traveling Bag of Kindness, to collect items for local children at Christmas. Olivia encouraged local residents to pick up one of her gift bags and fill it with at least one item a child would like. The bag was then passed to a trusted friend, to add an item, thus keeping it traveling until it was ready for pick-up.
After Christmas, Olivia delivered all of the filled bags to the Salvation Army and Genesis shelters to provide to the children of their young clients.
Olivia's idea has not stopped for the holidays. She has just started a campaign to make homemade Valentine's for residents in Richmond area nursing homes. Olivia's goal is to make sure every resident receives a Valentine, with a goal of 1,000, with volunteers personally delivering them to each resident.
Olivia is a very busy 5th grader!
Chaplain Frederick Slack was sworn in as a Volunteer Chaplain on July 20, 2016. Prior to being sworn in, Chaplain Slack was in training, which required him to respond to requests for a chaplain with another sworn Chaplain.
Chaplain Slack drove all over the City, at all hours of the day and night, in his privately-owned vehicle, at his own expense. Immediately upon being sworn in Chaplain Slack was everywhere. Not only did he volunteer for the three (3) shifts requested, he also routinely took runs over and above his shift, when the On-Call Chaplain was out on another run. He continued to respond in his own vehicle until he was finally issued a City vehicle in September.
Within a very short time of receiving the vehicle in September, Chaplain Slack suffered a stroke. Even while in the hospital, he continued to monitor runs and always talked about wanting to hurry up and come back to “help out”. Chaplain Slack was released to return to his volunteer duty in November. He came to the November Chaplains’ meeting and announced that he was “ready to work”.
He has been working diligently to serve the officers of IMPD and the Indianapolis community since. Once again, he is back to going above-and-beyond the commitment that agreed upon.
Ruth Altherr Rench
Ruth Altherr Rench is a Masters prepared Stroke Certified Registered Nurse from Indianapolis, Indiana. Over the past 30 years she has dedicated herself to the mission of the American Heart and American Stroke Association to reduce disability and death due to cardiovascular disease and stroke. Ruth has actively served on the Indianapolis Board of Directors and the Go Red for Women campaign as well as other important outreach and fund raising efforts such as Jump Rope for Heart and Heart Walk. Ruth is currently helping to plan the 3rd Annual Strike Out Stroke event to be held here in Indianapolis at Victory Field on June 27th, 2017.
Ruth's passion for increasing awareness regarding stroke risk factors, signs of stroke, and how to take action have been spurred first and foremost by her knowledge that stroke can be preventable and treatable if we Act FAST.
To recognize stroke, think FAST… F stands for Facial droop; A stands for Arm weakness; S stands for Speech difficulty; and T stands for Time to call 911!
On a personal note, Ruth had a recent firsthand experience with Stroke when her own Mother experienced a Stroke on May 11, 2016. Due to Ruth’s ongoing efforts to educate everyone around her about the warning signs of stroke Ruth’s Stepfather recognized her Mother’s stroke symptoms and called 911. Ruth’s Mother was transported to a Primary Stroke Center where she received the “clot-busting” medicine and had an amazing recovery. Always remember to Think FAST and Act FAST!
Markeith Drane III
Markeith is a nine-year old already serving our community. Since he was three years old, he has collected backpacks and school supplies and donated them to local school children through the Ian Smith Foundation.
Markeith began his project after he noticed a schoolmate with a tattered bookbag, and feared she would be teased by other children. With the help of his family, the project was promoted through Facebook and requested donations to fill the bags. In his first year, through money he received for his birthday, he filled 23 bookbags with school supplies; the following year, he filled over 50; and this past year, with the help of a sponsor, he was able to receive enough donations and supplies to fill over 300 bookbags!
In addition to the bookbag donations, he also donates hats and gloves to Riverside Park & Recreation each winter AND volunteers his time to read to the children at the daycare he attended.
Thank you Markeith for your amazing example to everyone on what it means to serve our community!
BJ is a 14-year old from Bloomfield, Indiana who was born with spina-bifida, wheelchair bound and undergone 17 plus surgeries. But that does not stop him from serving his community.
BJ has become known as BJ Claus the last seven years, as he has collected more than 10,000 toys for Riley Children's Hospital for the children at Christmas. This year alone he donated 5,000 toys and $3,000 to the hospital he loves and calls his second home.
Officer Mack is an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer who serves as the Special Olympics Indiana Liaison for the Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police and F.O.P Lodge #86 in Indianapolis.
Officer Mack has been supporting Special Olympics Indiana as a member of the Law Enforcement Torch Run program for over 15 years, and has continued to increase his support of the more than 12,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities that Special Olympics Indiana serves.
Office Mack is a tireless supporter of Special Olympics Indiana, through the Polar Plunge, Plane Pull, Tip A Cops, Unified Relay Across America, Strikes for Special Olympics Indiana bowling fundraiser, FOP Sponsorship efforts, serving on the state Leadership Team and more bringing in thousands of dollars each year. However, in addition to all his fundraising efforts you'll never miss Officer Mack in the high five line at Opening Ceremonies of Summer Games dancing with the athletes, serving as part of the Honor Guard, inviting athletes to FOP competitions for unified sports action and additional ways to include Special Olympics Indiana athletes in his efforts!
Officer Michael Mack continues to bring in new officers to support the athletes and grow his involvement and was even named the 2016 "Spirit of Special Olympics" Law Enforcement Torch Run Officer of the Year. He is very much an Indiana Hero to the athletes of Special Olympics Indiana!
IMPD Civilian Pat Pearsey has a long family history in IPD/IMPD with past and current members of his family serving in the ranks. Pat himself has worked for IPD/IMPD for the last 37 years. The first floor of the "police wing" has an area that houses IPD/IMPD historical memorabilia. It was the intent for this area to start having quarterly displays with the first display unveiling on June 30, 2014.
While Pat is not a member of the Historic Committee, he took the initiative for the idea and production of the display that depicts "The Battle of Elder Avenue" as it approached its 60th anniversary. Pat took the initiative to thoroughly research the incident and used his own time, resources, and funding to produce items for the display. Pat also found out that retired Sgt. Victor Osborne was still living in the area, and initiated the idea to have a certificate made for him. Pat also had the certificate made using his own resources when IMPD graphics resources were not available. The display and certificate presentation was very well received by IMPD, the community and retired Sgt. Osborne.
Since the first display, Pat has created other displays taking the initiative to create a very exceptional display illustrating the role and history of African American officers within IPD/IMPD. Pat also made contact with family members of one of the first African American officers on IPD and created a beautiful collage of photos on mounted board which he presented to the family on February 2, 2015.
Pat has also created displays highlighting women of IPD/IMPD which was later used at the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives Conference. Pat also has a clear passion for the history of IPD/IMPD. This passion directed him to also author “Detective Benjamin Thornton- Black Police Officer in Victorian Indianapolis” which recounts the life and cases of one of the first African American police officers who was nationally known for his skills in tracking criminal. He volunteers a great deal of his personal time and financial resources to create displays that are viewed at the City County Building.
Pat also tirelessly seeks out related family members to include them during the display presentation, as well as finding descendants of Officer Marion E. Ellis (killed in the line of duty in 1918). Pat has also volunteered his time to assist the IMPD Archivist sorting through historical material. With each presentation, Pat applies past experience to find new ways to improve displays. In 2017, Pat created another display celebrating Black History Month. It would have been very easy to simply duplicate material from the previous display, but Pat created something new. Pat has a clear love and passion for IPD/MPD and its history. His selfless, tireless pursuit to discover and bring to life our history is worthy of recognition.
John Sigler and Daniel Orcutt
As part of our commitment to Health & Wellness and Paul George’s support of stroke awareness and the American Heart Association, we honor John Sigler and Daniel Orcutt. Each suffered a stroke in 2015 & 2016, respectively and have since exemplified self-care.
After getting care immediately (using the FAST guidelines), John and Daniel have both recognized that they are the most important person in their own recovery. This includes having a say in decisions about their care and making sure others understand that they want to be involved in these decisions.
John and Daniel have diligently followed their rehabilitation plan, even though it is hard work and a slow process and are on a path to full recovery due to their commitment to their health and their heart!
The following was taken from the 2017 Kiwanis Abe Lincoln Awards, where DeShawn Thompson was presented with the 1st Place, $16,000 Scholarship Award:
Most of you have participated in the Junior High biology rite of passage known as Frog Dissection. Few of you, however, found it to be a life changing experience – as did our First Place Abe Lincoln Scholarship recipient.
In the opening sentence of his application essay for this Scholarship, our student, DeShawn Thompson of Speedway High School, wrote:
"I made the first cut in the 7th Grade to open the underside of a frog – revealing its miniscule organs. That first cut opened my eyes to my future aspiration of becoming a surgeon."
I am pleased to report that, now 5 years later, DeShawn is well on the pathway to fulfill his aspiration. He challenges himself by taking 7 advanced placement courses. He is captain of the tennis team, is active in class drama, plays in the Jazz Band, and is on both the Speech Team and the Spell Bowl Team. He stands second in his class of 102, with a 4.2 grade point average. He is a role model.
The prestigious University of Chicago has accepted his application, and the long and challenging road to become a surgeon lies before him.
But…..! There is much more to his story than a frog, a vision, and a list of multiple accomplishments. This is a story of overcoming significant stressful challenges. This is a story of developing self-reliance, of developing leadership skills, of learning to be of service to others. This is a story of seeking and responding to the counsel of faculty, friends, and mentors. In short, this is a story of perseverance.
DeShawn's father has never been a part of his life. When just 7, DeShawn became a victim of sexual molestation and secrecy – in his own home! This led the Indiana Child Protection Services to remove him from his Mother's custody and to place him into a Foster Home. Shortly thereafter, however, his grandmother took him in, adopting him 5 years later. Throughout the traumatic experiences of his early life, he kept a focus on his future.
As time passed, his estranged mother had more children. As she was unfit to care for them, his grandmother took them in as well. The increased responsibilities of caring for these children caused her to take an early retirement with decreased income. Now in the home are 8 brothers, sisters, and cousins.
In this extraordinary and challenging home environment DeShawn matured. He became more independent and worked harder to meet his goals. He helped his grandmother by babysitting his brothers and sisters. He learned what it meant to be responsible for the care of others.
In the summer of 2015, during a family visit in Ohio, DeShawn faced an unexpected challenge. Everyone was distracted at a poolside gathering, then turned and discovered DeShawn's younger brother face down in the water, his face blue and his body stiff. They lifted him out of the water and called 911. Here is what DeShawn wrote:
"My fear subsided and my CPR training kicked in. I began performing CPR, and, after minutes of compressing his chest and breathing air into lungs, I was able to bring him back to life. With his life saved, my goal solidified. As a surgeon, I could help save the lives of others."
DeShawn's preparation enabled him to save his brother's life. The preparation did not come by chance.
Early in Junior High School, he became an Indiana 21st Century Scholar, an Indiana program designed to enable and prepare eligible students to attain a college degree. With this as a basis, he was selected to participate in the Starfish Initiative, a mentoring program established by local Marion County businessmen in 2003 to serve disadvantaged youth in Marion County. DeShawn credited his Starfish Mentor for opening multiple opportunities for him.
One opportunity was a chance to shadow a neuro-surgeon. Another was to meet former presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson. After reading two of Dr. Carson's books, DeShawn was inspired by this exhortation: Even with the most devastating hardships, it is possible to succeed!
I've described only a few of the major challenges DeShawn faced throughout his 17 years, and I've listed only a few of his significant accomplishments. I believe, however, that you clearly see the story of a young man who early in his life had a vision for his future, worked hard to prepare himself, took advantage of opportunities, and kept his focus while overcoming multiple hardships.
Mr. Charles Bennett, DeShawn's guidance counsellor for the past 4 years, summarized this observation with this statement: "I am inspired watching him persevere daily through conditions that would make most others want to quit. He does not allow factors beyond his control to affect what he can control. DeShawn Thompson will someday be one of the most successful people I know."
Steve Smalley and Officer John Wall
IMPD North District Bike Unit Officers Steve Smalley and John Wall have a passion for cycling. They have used this passion as an opportunity to interact and improve relations with the youth of Indianapolis. They have shown the youth how to improve their health and bike safety and introduced them to mountain biking through a park they envisioned, designed and constructed.
In June 2013 Officers Steve Smalley and John Wall had an idea to develop an unused area of Washington Park. The idea was for the construction of a mountain bike course north of the Family Center. The course would be used primarily by the youth of Indianapolis, but is open to everyone of all ages and levels. The course would provide an opportunity for the youth to interact with officers of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department in a positive manner which they may not have had.
They contacted the Indianapolis Parks Department and received permission to develop and construct a mountain bike park on an eight acre parcel of an unused section of the Washington Park. Officers Smalley and Wall began construction of the park in 2016. They were assisted by other members of the North District Bike Unit and nine volunteers. They solicited donations for supplies and equipment from 14 local companies and organizations. Officers Wall and Smalley worked approximately 75 on-duty hours and committed approximately 700 off-duty hours and spent their own money to complete the construction of the park. The park includes two courses with an approximate one mile of trails and nine features.
Their vision of a mountain bike course in Washington Park was realized on June 11, 2016 when Officers Steve Smalley and John Wall held the Mountain Bike Grand Opening. The park includes two trails for two levels: beginner and intermediate. The event was attended by approximately 130 participants including 60 youths. The Douglass Park Little League team and the Washington Park flag football team participated in the grand opening.
During 2016 Officers Steve Smalley and John Wall used cycling as means to interact with over 1,100 youths of Indianapolis through cycling. The youth who have attended/participated were from IMPD PAL Club, Indy Parks, local youth sports teams, local schools, local churches, neighborhood associations and social service and non-profit agencies.
The park continues to provide an opportunity for citizens of Indianapolis and Officers of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to interact in ways that "out of the norm."
Beth is a breast cancer survivor and has been the captain of Team Lux for the Komen Central Indiana Race for the Cure for 12 years.
Team Lux has raised more than $300,000 for Susan G. Komen Central Indiana under Beth’s leadership in those 12 years. Last year, Team Lux had more than 105 members, and Beth makes sure the day of Race for the Cure is a fabulous experience for each and every team member.
Beth served on the Susan G. Komen Central Indiana Board of Directors from 2013 through 2015. Each year, Beth and her teammates show that they are More Than Pink with their dedication to raising funds for breast cancer research and local services.
Story courtesy of FOX 59
On Tuesday, March 21, Chris Perdue of Osgood, Indiana won the men’s second division advanced giant slalom event at the Winter Special Olympics games in Austria.
Perdue trains at Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg and is a member of Team USA and Special Olympics Indiana's program.
"Chris' second run impressed us all," said Perdue's coach Jimmy Laub, of Lawrenceburg. "He nailed everything we have been practicing and I could not be more proud he is coming home with gold."
"I have never been more proud of Chris," said Sherry Carroll, Perdue's mother. "He has inspired me and is inspiring others to give it their best."
Story courtesy of FOX 59
A central Indiana bus driver is being called a hero.
70-year-old Verl Keith and a busload of students were just a few miles away from school when a semi-truck crashed into them. Investigators say the semi hit the driver's side of the bus, pushing it off the road and towards a line of trees.
"I knew the bank was pretty steep so I kept trying to cut it so it'd go straight over the bank a little bit more and it worked, thank God," said Keith.
The bus never tipped over and it never hit a tree. Troopers credit Keith for being behind the wheel; he knew if the bus rolled the kids were going to be in even more danger.
"They were scared to begin with, it shook them up a little," said Keith.
All 31 kids and Keith walked away from the crash. Twelve students went to the hospital to be checked out for cuts from the shattered glass and pain. Keith was hurt the worst, but even the worst was just some cuts to his face and a dislocated finger.
"I was very fortunate and I think I had someone riding with me that morning," said Keith.
The semi driver wasn't injured and he checked on everyone on the bus right after the crash.
"He ran right up to me to see if I was alright and he said he hit a slick spot. I told him 'that's ok, I'll talk to you later I have to take care of the kids,'" said Keith.
The kids on Keith's bus gave him plenty of cards thanking him for being "a lifesaver" and a "super hero."