Red Cross to honor York area heroes at annual award ceremony


Some pulled people from dangerous fires. One made local teens warm during the winter. Another headed back to his home country to provide disaster relief.

All of them are among the 15 people the American Red Cross South Central Pennsylvania chapter will honor "for their heroic and selfless acts" Thursday, Nov. 19, during an annual award breakfast.

The award ceremony covers York, Adams, Franklin and Fulton counties, but all of the recipients except one are from York County, and the non-Yorker hails from Adams County.

The heroes: Sonam Ruit, a Manchester Township foot and ankle doctor who was born and raised in Nepal, will receive the medical hero award.

After a powerful earthquake caused widespread destruction in his home country, he raised almost $13,000 and collected 40 boxes of medical supplies before he flew over there to help out.

He used some of the money to buy 10 families "igloo homes" made of sheets of galvanized iron; some of the rest of the funds went to buying school supplies for kids, to the elderly and to people with disabilities. Some went to children in rural areas, buying footwear for kids who didn't have any.

"They look like Crocs shoes here," he said of the shoes he bought.

He took both medical supplies and his surgical talents to Kathmandu-area hospitals. His 40 boxes of supplies included surgical instruments, gowns, braces and blankets for the busy medical centers.

"All the hospitals there were filled with patients," said Ruit, who performed foot and ankle surgeries during the trip.

Hoodies for the Holidays: York City's Jackie Bortner will receive the community impact award for creating the Hoodies for the Holidays drive at William Penn Senior High School last year.

The effort resulted in every kid at the high school getting a new hooded sweatshirt.

She said she raised about $13,500; most went to buying the hoodies, and the rest went to the Dollars for Scholars scholarship program.

She now runs the school's resource center, which provides students clothing and food to take home over weekends. Right now, they're working to get food for kids in need to take home over the holidays.

"There's a lot of really good things happening at William Penn" and downtown, she said. "I'm happy to be part of it."

More honorees: The Red Cross is giving out eight awards to 15 people.

•Thomasville-area 12-year-old Lane Reever will win the animal hero award for working hard to raise money to get his pony, Buddy, the surgery the animal needed to survive.

•James Brunner, an officer with Eastern Adams Regional Police Department in Adams County, is receiving one of the law enforcement awards.

The Red Cross credits him with saving the life of someone who had led police in a high-speed chase.

After the chase ended in a crash, the car caught fire; Brunner pried the door open and pulled the driver to safety, according to a Red Cross news release.

•Officers Michael Gessner and Steve Gebhart, both of the Penn Township Police Department, also will be given a law enforcement award for pulling an unconscious man from a burning building.

The Red Cross credits them with saving the man's life and says the pair went back into the building after the initial rescue to see if anyone else needed help.

•York City fire captains David Bowman and William Sleeger and firefighters Kenneth Swartz, Kevin Westover, Joseph Portner, Shawn Firestone and Donald Newcomer will be jointly honored for their quick actions that might have saved the lives of two gunshot victims in York City earlier this year after a shooting right across the road from the Vigilant Fire Station in the 200 block of West Market Street.

The mother of one of the victims told The York Dispatch that the quick actions of emergency responders at the scene — and immediate help from a classmate who originally stemmed the bleeding — might have saved her teenage son's life.

•Ke-Shon Riley will be honored with the "good neighbor" award for his work at the Salvation Army after-school program in York City. The program had helped him out as a kid, so he volunteered there during high school and got a job there this past year, according to the news release.

•David Dranbauer will receive the good Samaritan award for stopping a man accused of lighting several fires in the Hanover area. Dranbauer saw a man running from a smoking garage, so he stopped him. When the man tried to punch him, Dranbauer put him in a headlock, restraining him until police showed up, according to the news release.

The ceremony will be held at 7 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 19 at the Wyndham Garden York hotel, 2000 Loucks Road in West Manchester Township.

Tickets cost $25 per person; call the Red Cross York office at 845-2751 to reserve them.

— Reach Sean Cotter at