Unsung Hero: Year In Review


By WSIL Reporter

This week we’re taking a look back at those in our community deserving special recognition for going above and beyond to help others. Here is a review of just some of the Unsung Heroes of 2012.

Dr. Penny Tippy earned the title of Unsung Hero in February when she
retired after 30 years of helping aspiring physicians at SIU Family Medicine.

"I look around the community and I think 90% of the family physicians in this community have come through this program,” said Dr. Penny Tippy.

"The southern Illinois area wouldn't be the same without her because of all the doctors that have stayed after getting trained here,” said Chief
Resident Bill Smith.

February 29th, Leap day, is a day many of us will never forget. The
Harrisburg tornado ruined homes, businesses, destroyed entire
neighborhoods and even claimed lives. But it also brought out the best in people.

"Eldorado, Carbondale, Herrin, Marion, everywhere. Everybody just comes together and helps out in a time of need,” said Kevin King, a volunteer.

"We weren't affected by the storm, these people are. Let's come and help them while they're taking care of their business,” said Life Church Member Darrell Coleson.

Volunteers were never more needed to bring the community together in such a terrible time.

"Until you're here and you actually see people come together, they really do come together in time of crisis. It's good,” said volunteer Michael Williams.

In March a young man was featured as our Unsung Hero when he pulled children from a wrecked car.

"Whenever I opened my door, I heard 2 babies crying and ran right over to the SUV. I could see car seats. Crawled through the back glass and got the littlest one out first. And by then there were multiple people helping me,” said Damon Hart.

16-year-old Damon Hart reacted quickly and without hesitation to do what was right.

“He showed a lot of maturity in reacting the way that he did. Concern for the kids, the little ones that he heard crying, I think tells a lot about
the compassion he has for other people,” said Damon’s Principal.

Our next Unsung Hero comes to us from Jefferson County.

“It’s a blessing to be able to do it, it really is,” said Merrit Strickland.

Merrit Strickland may be 94-years-old but he's still dedicating his
talents to making wooden flag cases to honor fallen soldiers.

A World War II Veteran himself, Merrit has a passion and a desire to
recognize other vets.

“I show them a finished board and I show them an unfinished board. I said, now that’s what the Lord can do to an old rough sinner,” said Strickland, “He can work them over and make them a different individual.”

And another military story featured a couple as our Unsung Heroes in May.

“It gives me a sense of fulfillment, if you will. Pride for sure in our
nation,” said Harry Boyd.

Harry and Dorothy Boyd travel to local cemeteries to make sure the grave markers are neat and tidy.

“We can’t find the markers and we have to literally excavate them and dig them up. They’re under maybe 3 or 4 inches of sod. Nodbody’s seen ‘em for years,” said Harry.

Allowing seniors to be active, healthy, and show off their moves is what
makes John Shuman Unsung Hero.

“I said I can make line dancing exercise,” said John Shuman.

He volunteers his own time at the Marion Senior Center to teach line dancing.

“A lot of people just give up after they retire and he’s made sure that
he’s open and involved in the community and I think that brings joy to him as well as to other people,” said Senior Center Executive Director Letina Poole.

The heroics of a Saline County man earns him the title of Unsung Hero in November.

“I was just thankful to be there to help them out,” said Mark Brown.

Mark Brown most likely saved Heather and Kenny Ryder’s lives and their two dogs when part of their house went up in flames.

“Everyone needs to be a Mark Brown. People too often turn the other way and don’t do the right thing,” said Kenny.

2012 had many moments of tragedy and tough times. But in those dark days, it’s the spirit of the community that comes together to show that brighter times are ahead.

The heroes of this region are everywhere. We look forward to singing their praises in 2013 and beyond.

If you would like to nominate someone for our Unsung Hero segment, you can do so at the top of this page or e-mail me at asmith@wsiltv.com.
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