Thomas Winkler said he doesnt consider himself a hero.
But others see it differently. The Centre LifeLink EMS volunteer emergency medical technician is one of 16 people who will be honored in the first Central PA 4th Fest parade, called the Parade of Heroes.
4th Fest organizers received 19 hero nominations and sought local individuals who made a sacrifice or helped others in some way.
Those chosen to ride in the parade include two nurses who saved a man having a medical emergency at a sports facility, and a 10-year-old girl who has donated her hair to Locks of Love, the charity that creates wigs for kids experiencing medical hair loss.
There are just so many people who have done good things, said Pat Knobloch, a 4th Fest organizer in charge of the nomination program. I really think, with this being the inaugural year, I think this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The group planned to select 20 heroes, and filtered out a few who didnt want to accept the nomination or wouldnt be in town Wednesday.
The parade also will honor as a hero the late Constantinos Dino Campanis, a Bellefonte cobbler who led the local chapter of Operation Shoebox, sending packages to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. That included collecting items to send from the 4th Fest Operation Thank You event. Campanis died in March.
He was a very good person and I know he touched the lives of hundreds of military people, Knobloch said.
Winkler has touched the lives of hundreds of Centre Countians through his volunteer work. The Penn State senior has volunteered for two years with Centre LifeLink, and was chosen as the volunteer EMT of the year, logging 979 hours in 2011. Thats more than three times the standard number of hours requested of volunteers.
But one act stuck out for Frank Cianfrani, Winklers friend and supervisor at Centre LifeLink. A former EMS volunteer committed suicide in February, and Winkler was one of the responders.
After that call, Winkler helped organize a company team for Out of the Darkness, the fundraising walk for suicide prevention. He raised
more than $1,000 on his own, and the team raised about $2,300.
Cianfrani said Winklers action went above and beyond doing ambulance calls, and said it was an honor and pleasure to nominate him for the 4th Fest parade.
Hes a really motivated young man and hes always willing to pick up an ambulance shift, he said.
Winkler said that suicide call was the worst hes received, and it was the one time he felt shaken on the job.
I had some regrets about not getting to know him better or not seeing the signs, he said. I decided that regrets dont really get us anywhere.
Winkler said he was a volunteer firefighter at home in Butler, and had always wanted to be an EMT when he came to Penn State. He majors in health policy and administration.
In EMS, no two shifts are ever the same, he said. I enjoy the constant change of it.
He said he was shocked to get the call that he was nominated to ride in the parade Wednesday, which will run from South Allen Street downtown to the Lewis Katz Building on Bigler Road Extension. But he said the nomination is probably one of the best compliments you can give anybody.
Knobloch hopes local residents and visitors can focus on the good work people do here.
I would hope everyone has a hero, he said. I would hope that everybody takes the opportunity to thank their hero.
Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter