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Kent State University graduate Jared Atkins and Kent State student Eric Johnston pose with their Real Heroes Awards after their presentation at the Bertram Inn in Aurora.
Kent State University graduate Jared Atkins and Kent State student Eric Johnston pose with their Real Heroes Awards after their presentation at the Bertram Inn in Aurora.
Kent State alumnus Jared Atkins and friend Paul Marschik pose with their Real Hero Awards during a presentation at the Bertram Inn in Aurora. Atkins and Marchick pulled a retired Kent State professor from her burning home.
Kent State alumnus Jared Atkins and friend Paul Marschik pose with their Real Hero Awards during a presentation at the Bertram Inn in Aurora. Atkins and Marchick pulled a retired Kent State professor from her burning home.
Eric Johnston, a senior Kent State University student majoring in music, accepts an award from Glenn Saltzman, Ph.D., during the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties’ 2012 Real Heroes Breakfast event. Johnston rescued a girl from drowning in the Cuyahoga River in Kent.
Eric Johnston, a senior Kent State University student majoring in music, accepts an award from Glenn Saltzman, Ph.D., during the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties’ 2012 Real Heroes Breakfast event. Johnston rescued a girl from drowning in the Cuyahoga River in Kent.
Kent State student Eric Johnston poses with the girl he pulled out the Cuyahoga River in Kent. Johnston received a Real Heroes Award from the American Red Cross for saving the girl's life.
Kent State student Eric Johnston poses with the girl he pulled out the Cuyahoga River in Kent. Johnston received a Real Heroes Award from the American Red Cross for saving the girl's life.
Kent State student Eric Johnston poses with members of Kent State’s School of Music and the College of the Arts who were on hand to see him receive his Real Heroes Award from the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties.
Kent State student Eric Johnston poses with members of Kent State’s School of Music and the College of the Arts who were on hand to see him receive his Real Heroes Award from the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties.
Kent State student Eric Johnston saved a 9-year-old girl from drowning in the Cuyahoga River last summer. Johnston was honored for his act of bravery by the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage counties. (Photo provided by the American Red Cross)
Kent State student Eric Johnston saved a 9-year-old girl from drowning in the Cuyahoga River last summer. Johnston was honored for his act of bravery by the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage counties. (Photo provided by the American Red Cross)
  • Kent State University graduate Jared Atkins and Kent State student Eric Johnston pose with their Real Heroes Awards after their presentation at the Bertram Inn in Aurora.
  • Kent State alumnus Jared Atkins and friend Paul Marschik pose with their Real Hero Awards during a presentation at the Bertram Inn in Aurora. Atkins and Marchick pulled a retired Kent State professor from her burning home.
  • Eric Johnston, a senior Kent State University student majoring in music, accepts an award from Glenn Saltzman, Ph.D., during the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties’ 2012 Real Heroes Breakfast event. Johnston rescued a girl from drowning in the Cuyahoga River in Kent.
  • Kent State student Eric Johnston poses with the girl he pulled out the Cuyahoga River in Kent. Johnston received a Real Heroes Award from the American Red Cross for saving the girl's life.
  • Kent State student Eric Johnston poses with members of Kent State’s School of Music and the College of the Arts who were on hand to see him receive his Real Heroes Award from the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties.
  • Kent State student Eric Johnston saved a 9-year-old girl from drowning in the Cuyahoga River last summer. Johnston was honored for his act of bravery by the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage counties. (Photo provided by the American Red Cross)

American Red
Cross Honors
Kent State
Student and Alumnus
for Courageous Acts

Foluke Omosun
The American Red Cross of Summit and Portage counties honored Kent State student Eric Johnston, 21, Kent State alumnus Jared Atkins, 23, and University of Akron alumnus Paul Marschik, 24, for acts of bravery that saved lives.

 All three were recognized at the 2012 Real Heroes Breakfast event on April 14 at the Bertram Hotel and Conference Center in Aurora. The Real Heroes Breakfast event recognizes individuals who have demonstrated humanitarian spirit consistent with the Red Cross’s mission. Honorees showed acts of courage and selflessness in times of emergency, averting tragedies.

Johnston, a senior music education major, was honored for saving a 9-year-old girl from drowning in the Cuyahoga River last summer. Johnston also was recognized last year at the American Red Cross of Greater Cleveland’s annual Hero Awards Luncheon.

“Once I had gotten in the water, I could see the girl and could tell that she was still very much alive and conscious,” Johnston said. “I just started coaching her to swim toward me as I continued to make my way toward her. I was more relieved than anything once I was in the water because I knew that she was going to be able to make it out okay.”

Atkins, who graduated with a B.B.A. in managerial marketing and a minor in management in 2010, and Marschik, who studied fire protection and is a certified emergency medical technician, were honored for saving 81-year-old Kent State Professor Emeritus Constance Mellott from her burning home. The friends were driving by Mellot’s home this past fall when they noticed flames coming from her windows. They called 9-1-1, while looking for signs of life in the burning house. They found Mellot on the floor yelling for help and were able to get her out. She has since made a full recovery from burns she sustained from the fire. Marschik and Atkins never thought they would receive an award for their acts of heroism on that fall evening when they rescued Mellot.

“It is humbling to be awarded,” Atkins said. “You don't really expect to receive something when you're doing the right thing. I'm honored though. We were driving by when we noticed the fire. It was just starting to flare up kind of bad, so no one had been notified, and we were the first on the scene.
We assumed there was someone inside, and I went around the house looking for a way in before locating the professor.”

“It is definitely an honor to be awarded, but at the same time I feel there is no need for the award as I was only saving a life,” Marschik said. “Once we became aware that someone was still trapped inside, neither one of us hesitated to rush in and save the person. Instincts and perhaps young foolishness kicked in.”

Toby Ann Weber, CEO of the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage counties, praised all three men for sacrificing their own personal safety to help others in times of great need.

“What is notable about both of these stories is that Paul, Jared and Eric all put their own lives at risk to save someone else,” Weber said. “These young men were pulled from their everyday activities to find themselves confronting an emergency. They had a choice — they could keep going or step forward to help. Fortunately for those whose lives were saved, Paul, Jared and Eric each made the choice to help. Most of us will never be called upon to run into a burning house or wade into a fast-moving river to save someone else — for this reason we are honored to recognize these ‘everyday’ heroes.”

For more information about the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage counties, visit http://summitcounty.redcross.org.

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