For some Red Cross honorees, everyday heroism is a 'passion'

Heroes come in all forms — like Zaavan Butts, a York City resident who stepped up when it counted most.

Zaavan Butts, a citizen of York, is honored during the annual York City Department of Fire and Rescue awards for his actions after alerting his neighbors to a fire on Salem Ave.  Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017. John A. Pavoncello photo

Butts' efforts to alert the families of two burning row homes in the city last fall by banging on their doors and climbing inside the window of one home to warn a sleeping mother and child made a difference.

Butts was honored at the York City Department of Fire and Rescue's annual awards ceremony in August, where he told the crowd, "I think the world is a better place when we help each other," The York Dispatch reported at the time.

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Butts, as well as 14 other people, one police dog and a local business, will be recognized for their outstanding acts of kindness, courage and service Thursday, Nov. 16, at the American Red Cross Heroes Award Breakfast held at the Wyndam Garden York.

"We believe it’s important to recognize those who embody the spirit of humanitarianism and the Red Cross Mission in our community, " Red Cross spokeswoman Kimberly Maiolo said.

The 15th annual ceremony from the Red Cross' South Central Pennsylvania Chapter has a variety of award recipients, from medical personnel and law enforcement to citizens and community activists.

Caleb Harmes, honored with the Good Neighbor award, was voting on Election Day with his family last year at the Dover community center when he saw a man collapse.

An ER nurse at York Hospital, Harmes helped revive him after his pulse stopped, as others called 911. 

"It was kinda scary, definitely," said Harmes, who later learned the man worked at the hospital as a transporter.

"I did not expect to get an award, " he said, adding that he was just glad to be in the right place at the right time. 

Hanover resident Christine Waltz, honored with the Military award, started the nonprofit For the Love of a Veteran, which provides care packages to deployed troops and backpacks to homeless veterans. 

She has always volunteered with military groups, so her husband suggested she start her own nonprofit, she said. Her son, who was deployed in 2009-10, told her about friends who were not getting anything sent from home.

"More than 22 veterans a day commit suicide not including active duty, " Waltz said. "If they receive a package they think, 'Oh, maybe somebody does care.'"

For the Love of a Veteran supports about 2,500 troops, according to a Red Cross news release.

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"We just do all this stuff because it’s our passion and we want to help," Waltz said.

Others will be recognized for community volunteering, clothing donations, medical assistance and rescues, including a team of police and firefighters that saved two dogs from a high-intensity two-home fire. 

K9 Lieutenant Lou will be recognized for his nine years of service. The police dog recently retired Oct. 19.

Lt. Lou and his partner Sgt. Sam Shipley have one last official event before Lou's retirement, the York County Sheriff's Office Run Walk Wag 5K that will be held at John Rudy Park Saturday.  Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. John A. Pavoncello photo

Thursday's breakfast starts at 7 a.m., followed by the awards program at 7:45 a.m. The program is open to the public, and past attendance has been about 400 guests.

The complete list of honorees includes:

Zaavan Butts (Adult Good Samaritan)

Capt. William Sleeger, Firefighter Johnathan Brown, Firefighter Charles Sleeger, Firefighter Michael Zaler, Firefighter Erik Swanson, York City Police Officer Sgt. Roger Nestor (Animal Rescue)

Shirley Bowers (Community Impact)

Steven Foster, Jr. (Good Neighbor)

Caleb Harmes (Good Neighbor)

K-9 Lieutenant Lou (Law Enforcement)

Scott Kurtz and William Summe (Medical Professional)

Christine Waltz (Military)

Jane Matthews (American Red Cross Volunteer of the Year)

Brewery Products (American Red Cross Partner of the Year)

If You Go:

What:15th Annual Heroes Award Breakfast 

Where: Wyndham Garden York, 2000 Loucks Road

When: 7:00 a.m. 

Cost: $25; Contact Ashley Martz at by Nov. 16 to purchase a ticket. 

Reach Lindsay C. VanAsdalan at or on Twitter at @lcvanasdalan