Lena Lonardo

In 1971, Lena Lonardo's grandson was born with a serious heart problem which necessitated treatment at Boston Hospital. The realization of having to send an infant to Boston for cardiac surgery was met with a great deal of stress by the entire family. Stress not only because of the obvious concern for the child's condition, but also because of the additional problem of having to leave other children behind during these visits.

When a pediatric cardiac surgery program was initiated at Rhode Island Hospital, Lena Lonardo decided to do something to support and increase public awareness of the new program. Because of her love for these children, Lena founded the RHODE ISLAND ASSOCIATION FOR CARDIAC CHILDREN.

THE RHODE ISLAND ASSOCIATION FOR CARDIAC CHILDREN was founded to respond to the growing needs for research, increased funding, and development in the area of cardiac surgery and treatment for the ever increasing number of Rhode Island children with cardiac problems. THE RHODE ISLAND ASSOCIATION FOR CARDIAC CHILDREN is an organization composed entirely of volunteers from all walks of life. Growing in numbers and scope through the years, the Association offers emotional support and direct financial assitance to cardiac children and their families. It sponsors family-oriented activities such as an annual Christmas party, trips to the circus and a softball tournament.

Lena is now in her 80's and as active as ever. She still heads the RIACC Board of Directors. She sets up at craft fairs to raise money. Lena still personally responds to the needs of cardiac children and their families.

Lena has shown what motivation, need, and perserverance can do!

Christopher Reeve

WE offer heartfelt condolensences to Dana Reeve as well as Christopher's  3 children.

Mr. Reeve was truly a Special Hero and a Super-Man.

Jack Diberardino 

Jack Diberardino, 31, was raised much of his life at the Ramada Limited & Suites Hotel in Clearwater, FL. His family had owned the hotel for 25 years. Now he is the hotel manager and a SPECIAL HERO!

In June 2003, while wearing an expensive suit, he heard screams for help coming from the hotel pool. Although he was not near it, he ran down a staircase, across a parking lot, and climbed the pool fence diving into the pool. There, he saw 12 year old, Shaquille Wallace on the bottom. He brought the boy to the surface, but Shaquille was not breathing and was bloody.
Using CPR techniques that he had learned over a decade earlier, he got the boy breathing. Paramedics arrived and took Shaquille to a hospital.

The boy and his sister, neither of whom swam, were temporarily left alone by their mother and grandmother. The boy decided to try swimming in the deep end after separating himself from his sister. When she saw what happened, she called for help on the pool phone and began screaming.

Jack did what many of us would hope to do in this type of situation. He did it without concern over his suit, liability, or ...

An instant as a SPECIAL HERO has meant an extended lifetime for Shaquille.

Puran Chauhan

From New Delhi, India, comes the story of Puram Chauhan, an amputee who is teaching karate to police.

After losing his right leg in an accident when he was 5 years old, Puran started to learn karate. Amazingly, he holds a black belt in karate.

This year, the 26 year old, won the Red and White Bravery Award and some money. He has won other awards in the past.

Puran runs a self-defence academy for women and teaches the police. However, this MBA holder is primarily jobless. What he earns from these 2 endeavors does not pay his basic needs. A local newspaper is trying to help him to be noticed more and to hopefully get a well-paying job.

Meanwhile, we can learn much from this amputee who has tackled a tough sport and is helping 'everyday' citizens and law officials, alike, to defend themselves and their community.

Kim Haeng-kyun 

August 2003, Kim Haeng-kyun, age 42, heroically risked his life to save a child. Kim has worked for the Korean National Railway Administration for almost 25 years. At a station in southwestern Seoul, he spotted a child who was too close to the platform's edge. Kim quickly pushed the child out of harm's way to safety. Unfortunately, Kim lost his balance and landed on the tracks, himself. A fast moving train hit him, resulting in the loss of his feet.

The name of the child who he saved is unknown and neither the child or the parents have even visited Kim. Yet, many Internet folks have heard of Kim's heroic deed and are commited to seeing that Kim is recognized as the hero that he is.

Hats off to you, Kim!

Jimmy Baxter 

Courage on and off the basketball court. That's what young Jimmy Baxter, a University of South Florida Bulls basketball player showed on the evening of December 12, 2002.

That night was rainy and Jimmy was driving his fiancee Nicole and their daughter to his father's home. There on Interstate 275, a car driven by 2 recent Bosnian immigrants, swerved off the road into a ditch of water. Between smoking and filling with water, Narcis and Ernesto Pavolv, the occupants, were scared.
The 6'6" Baxter tried in vain to get other cars to stop and assist him. But finally, one did and Jimmy took that person's crowbar. With it, he was able to break the window and from there, with great effort, was able to get the men out.

A minority member helping an immigrant in this great land is just a reminder of what America is made of and stands for!

Detective Steve McDonald

'Disability' and 'disabled' are two very different things to a select number of folks. Detective Steve McDonald of New York is one of those folks.

Approximately 16 years ago, in 1987, Detective McDonald was shot by one of several youths who he was chasing in a park. Wounded in the throat, this man still pursued the gang until he was again shot. He became a paraplegic from these injuries.

Rather than hide in self-pity and anger, Detective McDonald, with the spiritual guidance of a priest, forgave his shooter. He also began going to numerous schools and groups, where he speaks on violence.
For people, especially impressionable children, to see and hear how this already brave man took on life's challenges as a paraplegic would be incredible enough. Yet, they can also learn first-hand of forgiveness and see the devastating effects of violence.

John Askew

Summers can be brutal. And when you have mobility problems it can be even more trying.

In July 2002, in Oakland Hills, a Chicago suburb, John Askew not only proved himself a hero, but that heroism is not blinded by bigotry or discriminates based upon the recipient's nationality.
John was a 'late-bloomer' to the police force. However after only 5 few years, heart attacks and other health issues caused him to leave the force. Then, adding 'insult to injury', John lost a leg to diabetes. Now, in his early 50's, Mr. Askew is retired.

While getting what little air there was that summer, he heard an explosion from the building next door. 80 years young, Azezeh Abdallah accidentally lit a firecracker instead of a candle. The resulting explosion took off most of her hand!
John tried wheeling himself to her, but his chair got stuck. Not to give up or waste precious time, he crawled to Azezeh's patio.
There, he made a tourniquet to stop the excessive bleeding. Since Azezeh did not speak English and was understandably upset, Mr. Askew had to be a calming influence as well as 'spontaneous EMT'.

Azezeh's family thanked him, the mayor gave him an award for his actions, and he was invited to join in a 9/11 parade. His actions serve as an example to us, aside from the obvious, for looking past someone's ethnic background and realizing that human life is sacred.


If YOU know of someone who is a Special Hero, please click on the Nominate A Hero link to your left.
Write-ups to 6,000 words are accepted..



Those of you who donate time, money, or gifts are SPECIAL HEROES!

Too often, folks get too wrapped-up in their own lives and hustle and bustle, to stop and realize just how fortunate that they are. - That even if things are not great in your life, they are probably better than what some others have going on in their lives.

SO REACH OUT TO SOMEONE ELSE. Surely, you can give something. If only an old coat or a 50 cents or... Someone will appreciate your effort and kindness.

AND REMEMBER: Nominate a Special Hero on our Nominations page!

Dave Williams 

Cypress Gardens and its area can be quite beautiful. But for one disabled woman driver, it proved almost life-taking, not breathtaking.

Dave Williams, a newly employed tow truck operator, had been doing paperwork, late at night in a parking lot. A driver approached him, asking for Dave to call the police because of a car that missed a curve and had plunged into the water.
Dave did so. When he went to check it out, he saw car lights shining from within Lake Roy. He also heard a woman's screams. He leapt in and pulled the woman to safety.
Although disabled, the woman was able to drive. But she could not move her legs to aid in swimming to safety.

By the way, coincidence or not, Dave Williams was doing paperwork in a church parking lot when he was alerted to the accident.

John Ndungu 

A caregiver gives the gift of life to another.

John Ndungu is a care attendant at Kumquat House in Coon Rapids, MN. Kumquat House is a residence for adults with disabilities.

In June of 2003, while driving Scott Niles, a resident, John noticed flames coming from the back of the handicapped-equipped van that he was driving.
John pulled over and tried getting Scott, who has cerebral palsy, safely out of the van. Unfortunately, the van was pretty much in flames at this point and 5 straps that held Scott's wheelchair in place had to be removed. But, John was successful.
No one was injured.

John Ndungu came to the US from Kenya, approximately 3 years ago and has become an American citizen.

Deborah Koenigsberger 

When fashion and heart meet, you will find Deborah Koenigsberger. This one-time model and current owner of Noir Et Blanc Bis, decided to volunteer at a homeless shelter.

After hearing Stevie Wonder in concert sing of the homeless and being asked to run a 'dress for a job interview' workshop at a New York City shelter for homeless mothers and their children, Deborah knew she wanted to do more.

She began Hearts of Gold, a charity to help the homeless. They conduct fashion related fundraisers with some famous celebrities serving as honorary chairpeople.
They help 3 NYC shelters, serving more than 170 families! They offer computer courses to help the mothers with employment opportunities, parties, toys, and more.

With the economy so bad, jobs scarce, rents high, and... homelessness in our country is affecting more and more folks, including those who you would never guess were homeless.
Kudos to Deborah and her Hearts of Gold!

Jasmine Rice 

July 2003, was a hot day in more ways than one at the Aliamanu Military Reservation in Hawaii. Approximately, 4 in the morning Jasmine and Brandon Rice were awoken by their cockateil. They took their young daughter and left the apartment building.
Because of the fire starting on the building's outside, alarms had not gone off. - While her husband left with tehir daughter, Jasmine stayed, risking her life, to alert her neighbors on the complex. She also pulled the fire alarm.
Authorities state that had she not reacted as she did, many of the residents might have been trapped and died or suffered serious injuries. - Luckily, everyone was safe, although many were homeless, and pets, including Jasmine's cockateil, died in the fire.

Suzanne Lawrence Forsberg 

This Texas beauty with much more than looks on her side has climbed to new heights in helping others face a serious disease that she has lived with for years.
Suzanne Lawrence Forsberg became Miss Texas in 1990. She went on to represent Texas in the Miss America contest, but few knew that she had won a 7 year war with vaginal cancer. Suzanne made 3rd runner up at the Miss America Pageant but was honored to make it that far.
She then became a broadcast journalist. But cancer came back, this time in the form of colon cancer.She knew that her battle was not one faced by her alone. So she thought of a way to help others: A CLIMB FOR THE CURE.
The CLIMB FOR A CURE would raise money and awareness for research and educational efforts. - Gold's Gym, the world's largest of its type, agreed to sponsor the effort. - From there, other Miss America's joined in, giving their support.

Susan and Paul Moore 

'Double the Pleasure' refers more than to great chewing gum. Susan and Paul Moore discovered that when in August 2003, they twice chose to be Special Heroes.
While camping near Ilwaco, they saw 2 people in trouble in the Columbia River. The riptide had grabbed a young boy whose father, 35, had run in to save him. Soon, both were in distress. - Paul, a former Seattle police officer, leapt into the dangerous water and brought the youngster back to shore, where Susan, a nurse, tended to him. But, the father, Alex Melnichenko, disappeared in the water, apparently dead.
The next day, while stopping for gas, an elderly man collapsed from a heart attack. By getting and giving the man his nitroglycerin tablets, he survived.
These 2 'professional heroes' stayed commited even while on vacation.

Steve Kolthoff and Jesse Peterson 

May 2002 was a month that a California woman, Martha Hernandez will likely remember the rest of her life. That's because, it was the month that a member of the US NAVY saved her life.

She was on a beach with her daughter and other family members, camping. After walking into what appeared to be calm waters, she was swept away by the tide. The more she tried to resist the pull, the worse-off she was.

Luckily, two Navy personnel, Steve Kolthoff and Jesse Peterson were in the area. They had been training at the Naval Air Station North Island. They were spending time hiking along the Kern River when Martha was spotted. They acted swiftly, getting her to shore, where they checked for signs of obvious serious injury.

Both men were honored by the US NAVY. -- Hats off to these 2 brave men!

Aaron McCraw and A.J. Hart

Who says young folks do not have values or think of others? At 23 years young, A. J. Hart and 19 year years young Aaron McCraw risked life and limb to save a 56 year old motorist, Alfredo Tapio from a burning car.

Mr. Tapio's car spun out on a major highway. After his car was hit by another one, it burst into flames and was crossing other lanes. Both young men, who were in separate cars, pulled to the side of the road and rushed to the burning auto. They each broke a window. Then, they dragged Mr. Tapio to safety.

What would you have done? Called 911, just kept going, or perhaps, also been a Special Hero?

Unknown 'Good Samaritan'

An unidentified, Good Samaritan rescued a Miami area teacher in August 2003.

Dorothy Schilke, a 7th grade teacher, while driving to school, had her Ford Explorer struck by a school bus, of all things! Her car slid and eventually landed in a lake. Water began to quickly enter the auto. The teacher was unable to open her doors or windows.
Suddenly, Ms. Schilke noticed that her rear window was broken. A good samaritan who watched the situation offered help. He pulled the teacher to a safe spot and after seeing to it that she was okay, left.

What could have been a tragedy, became one of those 'Random Acts of Kindness'.