Chip Minemyer | Honoring the heroes in our midst

May 24, 2014 

Parade viewers wave flags and take photos while cheering for Sgt. Adam Hartswick during the 4th Fest Parade of Heroes last July 4. Hartswick was one of 14 people who were honored in the parade.

CHRISTOPHER WEDDLE — Christopher Weddle

Pat Knobloch sees heroes everywhere he looks.

Nurses. Teachers. The neighbor who delivers soup to a friend, or the person who mows your lawn and expects nothing in return.

On this weekend set aside for remembering those who have sacrificed before us, Knobloch hopes we’ll also think about those around us right now who have done something special.

He is among those planning the July 4th Parade of Heroes in downtown State College, and reaching out seeking nominations for people to honor. Appropriately, he will be on local radio stations over this Memorial Day weekend urging folks to visit and suggest someone for recognition.

Last year, 14 individuals were honored in the parade leading up to the big Independence Day fireworks display at Beaver Stadium.

They included two local soldiers who had been wounded in combat — Vincent Reynolds, of Bellefonte, and Adam Hartswick, of Pine Grove Mills — and two high school students — Dustin Neumann and Hope Guthoff — who used CPR to help save a man’s life.

The list also included perhaps less obvious heroes, who affected the community in ways such as organizing a benefit concert for people left homeless by the closing of a mobile home park and helping lead a Relay for Life event.

The 2013 list featured a conservationist and outdoors enthusiast, and the organizer of an adventure club for local women.

“There’s the societal heroes, the fireman who saves the kid from a burning building and the soldiers, like an Adam Hartswick, who volunteer and sacrifice for their country,” Knobloch said. “But every one of us has a hero, that person we look up to for what they’ve done or the values they’ve passed on to us. Those are also the heroes we want to honor.”

Nominations will be taken through June 4, Knobloch said. Then, the committee will finalize a list and plan the parade that will loop through downtown State College and across the Penn State campus.

“I’m hoping we get a lot of people making nominations,” Knobloch said.

He urged folks to expand the notion of “hero” and consider filling out a nomination form.

“Maybe it’s the person down your street who takes soup to their neighbors, or the person who plows out your driveway,” he said. “Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are heroes, and so are Scout leaders.”

Knobloch said the mission of the heroes committee is similar to that of the Centre Daily Times and other local media outlets: Find the positive in a world that sometimes seems dark and uncertain.

“You need a balanced report,” he said. “There’s a lot of good news, and the good news is around good people. And I just think it’s one of our responsibilities to let kids and the public know that there’s more good in the world than bad.”

The Parade of Heroes will begin at 2 p.m. July 4. Those selected will receive commemorative plaques and will be invited to ride in the parade.

The event’s website says committee members are looking for “ordinary people who have done something extraordinary.”

Know someone who fits that description?

“Please think about who you look up to, who you respect,” Knobloch said, “and nominate a hero.”

Chip Minemyer is the executive editor of the Centre Daily Times. He can be reached at 231-4640. Follow him on Twitter @MinemyerChip.

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