14 to be honored as heroes in 4th Fest parade

cminemye@centredaily.comJune 29, 2013 

  • America’s Got Heroes

    Here is the complete list of individuals to be recognized during the 4th Fest Parade of Heroes on Thursday:

    •  Spc. John Buchan, an American serviceman from State College currently serving as a fire support specialist stationed in Afghanistan.

    •  Bonnie Dyke, a Bellefonte registered nurse associated with Centre Communities Chapter of the American Red Cross as a disaster services volunteer who has been deployed to Alabama, New Jersey and New York for emergency relief.

    •  Pat Elliott, a Port Matilda volunteer who organized a concert, silent auction and bake sale to help raise funds for more than 200 displaced mobile home residents.

    •  Hope Guthoff, a State College Area School District student who, along with Dustin Neumann, administered CPR and assisted with the defibrillator to save a man who had suffered a heart attack. Hope also volunteers with the Port Matilda EMS.

    •  Adam Hartswick, a 2009 graduate of State College Area School District who volunteered for the Centre Lifelink EMS before entering the military. While serving in Afghanistan as an Army medic, he lost both legs while assisting others who had been wounded by the explosion of an IED.

    •  Donald Hazel Jr., a State College resident who has served in the U.S. military then served 30 years with the Penn State Police Department and now works as deputy sheriff to provide security for Centre County employees.

    •  Paul Mazza, an attorney from State College who founded the Mazza Law Group and South Hills School of Business and Technology and was also one of the founders of the Central Pennsylvania 4th of July Inc.

    •  Dustin Neumann, a State College Area School District student who, along with Hope Guthoff, administered CPR and assisted with the defibrillator to save a man who had suffered a heart attack. Neumann also volunteers with the Port Matilda EMS.

    •  Polly Norton, a State College resident who is class manager for a local Jazzercise class and has “adopted” newcomers and helped raise almost $5,000 for the American Cancer Society through the Phillipsburg Relay for Life.

    •  Terri Rudy Pontzer, a Bellefonte resident who is president of the Nittany Mountain Biking Association and also helps with conservation activities, Take-a-Kid-Mountain-Biking, ClearWater Conservancy and Special Olympics.

    •  Charles Poust, a Pine Grove Mills resident who for the past two decades has served as the Disaster Services Leadership Chairman for the American Red Cross Centre Communities Chapter.

    •  Sgt. Vincent Reynolds, a 2006 Bellefonte Area School District graduate who joined the U.S. Army and was injured in Afghanistan in September when an IED exploded, causing the loss of a foot and much of a leg.

    •  Lisa Wandel, a Boalsburg resident who organized the Women’s Adventure Club of Centre County, an organization with more than 600 members encouraging women to hike, bike, kayak and be active and who did volunteer work with Centre Crest, the Sierra Club and more.

    •  Donald Watkins, a State College native who enlisted in the U.S. Navy in World War II and volunteered with the Boy Scouts, Pennsylvania Game Commission, and the Alpha Fire Company as a paramedic and fireman.

Adam Hartswick won’t be at Thursday’s 4th Fest Parade of Heroes in person, but he’ll be there in spirit.

The State College Area High School graduate, who lost both legs to a bomb blast May 14 in Afghanistan, was among 14 heroes announced Friday by the event committee. The parade will lead up to the full Central PA 4th Fest fireworks celebration that evening at Beaver Stadium.

The heroes list also includes a soldier currently in Afghanistan, two State High students who saved a man who had a heart attack at the school and the late Paul Mazza, founder of South Hills School of Business and a 4th Fest pioneer.

The nomination for Hartswick included 1,386 signatures of support from faculty and students at State High and other friends.

“It’s blowing my mind how much support I’ve gotten,” Hartswick said Friday from his hospital room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where he has had multiple surgeries and is recovering from his injuries through daily rehabilitation sessions.

“It’s really cool to be nominated as a hometown hero,” Hartswick said. “I’m really touched. I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to make it myself, but I’m still inpatient here.”

Skip Webster, marketing and communications chairman for 4th Fest and a board member for the event, said he was stunned when he saw Hartswick’s nomination.

“Obviously Adam has been going through a difficult time, losing his legs in Afghanistan, but I was blown away by the number of signatures,” Webster said. “Those 1,386 names came unsolicited and unbeknownst to us. Someone did that. It’s anonymous. But it’s pretty incredible.”

Hartswick won’t be the only wounded warrior honored. Sgt. Vincent Reynolds, a 2006 graduate of Bellefonte Area High School, lost a foot and much of a leg to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in September.

In addition, honoree Spc. John Buchan, of State College, is serving as a fire support specialist in Afghanistan.

The parade will start at 2 p.m. in front of the State College Municipal Building. The route will take the parade through downtown State College and across campus to its conclusion at the Penn State Law School Building on Park Avenue.

The heroes will be honored in a ceremony sponsored by First National Bank and hosted by the State Theatre prior to the parade.

As the parade is beginning, the bells of Old Main and churches around town will be rung to honor the heroes and to celebrate Independence Day.

“That just kind of snow-balled through social networking,” Webster said. “Other towns are doing that, too. I just think that it’s really cool.”

Webster hopes to see the Parade of Heroes grow moving forward. In 2012, the parade’s first year, 16 individuals were nominated through the 4th Fest website.

“It should be hundreds of people who are heroes,” he said.

Hartswick, an Army medic, said he was pleased to be on a heroes list with State High students Hope Guthoff and Dustin Neumann, who used their CPR training to save a life on May 1.

Hartswick was injured by an IED blast while assisting fellow soldiers whose vehicle was struck by a bomb blast.

“It does take courage to do what they did,” he said. “It’s good to have the skills and the training, but if you don’t have the courage to act, you won’t be the one to save someone’s life. That is really impressive, especially for high school kids.”

Follow Chip Minemyer on Twitter @MinemyerChip.

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