Greenfield’s Life-Saver Receives National Award

At only 11 years-old, Abram Suminski of Greenfield, Wisconsin, is a official recipient of the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit for selfless and humane action in saving a life. This is the highest award given by the Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains life by using skills and knowledge learned in the American Red Cross Preparedness, Health and Safety Services courses.

When Abram Suminski was learning first aid basics in an American Red Cross Babysitter’s training course, I doubt he knew how quickly he’d be putting them to use in a real-life situation. Good thing he was prepared though when his younger brother, Logan, was in need. Shortly after, the brothers were playing in their grandmother’s basement when Logan started to choke on a piece a candy. Abram saw his brother turning purple and jumped into action to perform abdominal thrusts. His quick actions dislodged the piece of candy from Logan’s throat, saving his life!

Abram’s instructor from the Babysitter’s training course heard of his life-saving story, and she, along with the Greenfield Rec. Department (where the training took place), nominated Abram for the Red Cross Certificate of Merit, which is signed by the President Barack Obama, who is the Honorary Chairman of the American Red Cross!


Abram Suminski holding his award with the help of his younger brother, Logan.

On Tuesday night at the Greenfield Common Council Meeting, Abram received the Red Cross Certificate of Merit. The Mayor of Greenfield, Michael J. Neitzke, and local Red Cross CEO, Patty Flowers, had the honor of presenting the award to Abram. In attendance, were some very special guests including Abram’s family, the vice principle of his school, his Red Cross instructor and the Greenfield Fire Department.

If you’re thinking about signing up for a Red Cross training course, don’t hesitate – be prepared! Information about the Red Cross Babysitting course, First Aid, CPR/AED and other training courses are available at

To see live action watch the Fox 6 news clip!


Ending Measles in Kenya: A Volunteer’s Perspective

Written by Sara Horein, American Red Cross volunteer and Tiffany Circle Donor

Sara recently traveled to Kenya to witness the life-saving work of the Measles and Rubella partnership. While the disease is most prominent thousands of miles from Madison, Wisconsin, it’s just a plane ride away.



I recently returned from a trip to Kenya where the government —supported by the American Red Cross and our partners in the fight to eliminate measles—completed a successful nine-day vaccination campaign in the East African country. Targeting 19 million children between nine months and 14 years old, this effort was Kenya’s largest immunization campaign in the Measles & Rubella Initiative’s 15-year history.

Although preventable by a safe, effective and inexpensive vaccine in use for over 50 years, measles still kills about 315 children every day. Conditions in Kenya made this campaign particularly vital: 45.9 percent of the population currently live in poverty, while many children have limited or no access to medical treatment and are often malnourished.

Because of widespread poverty and weak kenya2public health infrastructure, only 79 percent of children in Kenya receive vaccines through the routine immunization system. The large number of unvaccinated children
 can lead to deadly measles outbreaks, such as a 2016 outbreak in remote Mandera County. These outbreaks are particularly deadly in communities that are also experiencing conflict or natural disaster, with the youngest children—those less than two years of age—
at greatest risk of dying from the disease. In recent years, Kenya has experienced extreme flooding and drought, increased security issues and urban growth.

The safe, effective and inexpensive vaccines delivered throughout Kenya will undoubtedly add to the growing number of lives saved through the Measles & Rubella Initiative. Since 2001, the Initiative has helped immunize more than 2 billion children in 88 countries. This work has had an extraordinary impact. The number of measles deaths decreased by 79 percent between 2000 and 2014— saving the lives of 17.1 million children.kenya3

The seemingly impossible feat of reaching 19 million children in just nine days is only achievable through dedicated Red Cross volunteers. The success of any campaign relies on mobilizing parents and caregivers to bring their children to vaccination centers, and Red Cross volunteers are ideally located and well equipped to carry out this vital task. They speak the local language, know community members and understand local customs.

Leading up to and during the nine-day campaign, the
 Red Cross trained more than 1,300 local volunteers to canvass neighborhoods throughout Nairobi, Bungoma and Tharaka Nithi. These volunteers played a fundamental role
 in building awareness, educating parents and calling them 
to action on vaccination days. While they used many forms
 of communication—including megaphones, radio ads, and text messages—the most relied-upon and effective method was personal outreach through house-to-house visits. This was particularly important in engaging households that may otherwise not be reached through traditional communications. kenya4

As a Red Cross volunteer and donor, I witnessed the strong partnership and lifesaving efforts between the American Red Cross and Kenya Red Cross. The breadth and depth of staff knowledge, dedication of local volunteers and overwhelming resilience of Kenyans amazed me. It was exciting to see donor dollars hard at work, saving lives one vaccination at a time. The Measles & Rubella Initiative is important because the virus is only one plane ride away – living in one shared world, we need to improve the lives of everyone. I am honored and humbled to have represented the American Red Cross during this mission-focused trip in the fight to eliminate measles.

Watch Sara and other Red Cross volunteers’ trip to Kenya to vaccinate millions of Kenya children with Measles and Rubella vaccines.

How YOU can help: Donate! Text PREVENT to 90999 to give $10 to the Red Cross and help us vaccinate children against measles. Learn more here.


Volunteer of the Month – Floyd Duranceau

Congratulations Floyd Duranceau, the July 2016 Volunteer of the Month!

roc_blog_img_Floyd Duranceau

When July volunteer of the month, Floyd Duranceau looks back on his Red Cross service, he’s reminded of the great gifts he has been able to offer others; first through the teaching of lifesaving skills and now through the distribution of lifesaving blood.  After working as a Red Cross Health & Safety CPR Instructor for more than twenty-six years, in 2015 Floyd decided to volunteer in a new position for the Red Cross with the BioMed Transportation Program. Volunteering as a Transportation Specialist, Floyd delivers blood product to hospitals providing the vital link between donor and patient, making sure that critical blood products get delivered quickly and effectively to those in need.

In the past six months of volunteering Floyd has accumulated over eight-hundred hours of volunteer service. This level of commitment speaks to the special qualities that make Floyd an outstanding leader in this program. “Floyd has become a real asset to the transportation program. In addition to driving almost every day of the week to places as far away as Chicago Illinois, he routinely recruits new volunteers to become drivers by informing them of the need for this important service,” shares Joshua McDonnell, Blood Services Manager of Volunteer Services.

“Volunteering to me just means getting to know people, after that I feel impassioned to make their day a better one.” When asked about his favorite volunteer moments, Floyd recalls, “I’ve had a number of great moments working in the Red Cross mission. The most memorable though happened in one of the last CPR classes I taught. A gentleman near the end of the class said that he had taken many CPR classes over the years and could never wait to have them end but with my class he did not want it to end.” This clearly shows how well Floyd shares his dedication to the American Red Cross mission with others.

As a Red Cross volunteer, Floyd said he is determined to do whatever he can for others for as long as he can. Every week he commits to working an average of thirty hours with the Bloods Services transportation program all while he continues learning, training and mentoring others. To encourage others to become a volunteer with the Red Cross, Floyd emphasizes, “We just need to show people that someone cares. This may sound simple but it can change both the lives of others’ and the volunteer’s own life tremendously. You don’t need a special talent to help others; the Red Cross will train and prepare you.”

Thank you, Floyd for proudly representing the Red Cross in your community and for giving back to others in so many remarkable ways!

This month, consider giving someone a chance to share more joy, laughter and time with family and friends. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. Blood transfusions are a very common medical procedure. A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the United States alone. Although 38 percent of people in the U.S. are eligible to donate blood, only 3 percent actually do. Be the change in someone’s life by donating today. For more information visit

If you are interested in joining Floyd as a Blood Services transporter of blood and blood products throughout the region in a safe and timely manner please contact us. Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed. To learn more, visit or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at

Sherri Galle-Teske: My Red Cross Story

By Sherri Galle-Teske, Account Executive for the American Red Cross 

The American Red Cross has touched my life and family in so many ways. My earliest memory of learning about the Red Cross was when I was five years old. My grandmother Agnes Patoka (fondly known as Nana) would put me up on her lap and read children’s books when I would come to her house for visits. My favorite books however-were her old photo albums which included many photos of my father as a child. She would reminisce and explain in detail every photo and always explained the “story” behind it.

On one occasion Nana had a photo album that I had never seen before and it contained special pictures of her prior marriage. One picture in particular was of great interest to me. The picture was taken in 1919 when my grandmother was 18 years old. The photo shows my grandmother sitting with two of her friends on a lawn. All of the girls are wearing long white gowns with a white cloth on their heads. On their foreheads the white cloth sported a red cross. She explained to me that she and her friends volunteered at the American Red Cross in Menasha, WI. There was a terrible war going on in Europe and many soldiers and civilians needed their help. After school she and her friends went to the Red Cross and ripped apart long cotton petty skirts (now known as slips) into long strips. The men at the Red Cross office bundled them together in bales and they were sent to the war front to be used as bandages.

That photo is framed and currently hangs on the wall in my Stevens Point office. Nana’s special picture has been in many of my presentations and displays for the Red Cross. The picture travels with me frequently.


Prior to my birth, my father was enlisted in the Navy. He knew his Aunt Francis and Uncle Luther were expecting their first child. While on ship he suddenly received bad news – Uncle Luther was killed in a plane accident. He received the message from the Red Cross. Soon after he received another message – my Aunt Francis had delivered a beautiful baby boy. Would he be the godfather? Naturally my father agreed-he recited the religious oath from the ship’s control room over the radio (somewhere close to the Philippine Islands) – all arranged via the Red Cross!

My Aunt Phyllis Petts of Neenah, WI, spent many years as a Red Cross blood volunteer until her death. I received her Red Cross volunteer pin from my cousins after the funeral.

I guess it was destiny for me to work for the American Red Cross. I am excited to be part of a family tradition that has followed this organization for such a long time. When I refer a blood drive, sell an AED, discuss Services to Armed Forces (SAF), or recommend our volunteer program, I know “someone above” is smiling down at me – and feeling proud.

Sherri Galle-Teske supports the Preparedness, Health and Safety Services in both Wisconsin and Michigan. As February is National Heart Month, it is important to know that Sherri’s support of Preparedness, Health and Safety Services includes helping people obtain AEDs for their home, business, school or organization. AEDs, devices that analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock which helps the heart re-establish an effective rhythm, are an important element in reducing the number of cardiac arrest deaths. In addition, the Red Cross offers AED program management, maintenance and service. To learn more about AEDs or the Red Cross AED Program, contact Sherri via


Click here to view full-size flyer.

Tribute to the Red Cross Nursing Pin

Marion Eastwood No. 226482 Red Cross Nurse.

Marion Eastwood No. 226482 Red Cross Nurse.

By Jody Weyers, Volunteer and Communications Director.

The image of the Red Cross Nurse has been part of our Red Cross brand, imagery and history for more than 100 years.  I never realized the formality and the regulations that went along with wearing the uniform until last week….

I was in my office, when a past volunteer, Darryl, stopped by and he was wondering if I could help him with a request. He was visiting friends in Minnesota, and Lillian, who was in her 90’s, knew that Darryl volunteered with the Red Cross. She was telling him how she had the nursing pin of her dear friend Marion Eastwood, of Gowanda, NY who had passed away. She asked Darryl if he could help her return the pin to the Red Cross because that was the directive given to nurses who received the “badge”.

Darryl asked me if I could find out who it should be returned to. Of course, I said I would find out what to do with it.

Regulations for Wearing the Badge of the Red Cross Nursing Service

Regulations for Wearing the Badge of the Red Cross Nursing Service

I first contacted Mary Kellam, Associate, Nursing & Health, in Washington DC. She told me that it has indeed been tradition for nurses to return their American Red Cross RN pins (formerly called badges) to the American Red Cross upon their passing. She also attached for me the regulations nurses receive upon being issued their “badge”.

In doing additional research on the internet, I also came across how the badge came about:

The Nurse Badge (pin) was adopted and first ordered in 1906, in a design derived from the American Medical Association pin, with the addition of the laurel wreath on the outer edge.  Numbering of the badges did not begin until 1909.

Since that time until present, each nurse enrolled as a Red Cross nurse receives a numbered badge and enrollment card, and the regulations for wearing the badge or the American Red Cross Nursing Service.  The badge and card always remain the property of the American Red Cross, protected by an Act of Congress.  The badge must not be worn by any other person than the person to whom it is issued.  There are clear regulations for the disposition of badges at the end of the nurse’s enrollment.  The nurse, relative, or administrator of the estate, should return the badge to National Headquarters, or the nurse may choose to be buried with the badge.

I am happy to say Marion Eastwood’s badge No. 226482 is now safely back where it belongs.

Help Provide Swimming Lessons to those in Need!

CLICK HERE to participate in this GROUPON DEAL: $10 Donation to the American Red Cross

m6040248_241x164-learn-to-swimThe Issue: Lack of Swimming Skills

Every day, an average of 10 people die from unintentional drowning in the U.S.—two of those being children aged 14 or younger. For every child who dies from drowning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, another five received emergency care from water-related incidents. A 2014 Red Cross survey found that while 80 percent of Americans said they could swim, only 56 percent are self-described swimmers and 33 percent of African American respondents can perform all of the five basic swimming skills that are needed to be competent in the water.

The Campaign: Teaching Children to Swim

All donations to this Grassroots campaign will be used by the American Red Cross to support the Aquatics Centennial Campaign, a new initiative to cut the drowning rate by 50% in 50 cities in the next 3 to 5 years. For every $10 raised, the organization can help provide a swimming lessons for one child or adult from an at-risk community.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Red Cross’s water safety education program. To celebrate, through its Centennial Campaign, the organization aims to teach 50,000 more people in these cities how to swim and respond to emergency situations. The program targets families in high-risk areas, and includes teaching parents how to perform CPR as well as equipping older teens and young adults with the skills to become lifeguards and swim instructors. People are also encouraged to download the free Red Cross Swim App to track their or their children’s swim progress and learn about water safety with videos and quizzes.

In A Nutshell: 

Donations help prevent drowning accidents during the summer by providing swimming lessons for children in underserved communities

The Fine Print

100% of donations go directly to American Red Cross. Donations are automatically applied. See Grassroots FAQs that apply to this campaign. Merchant is solely responsible to purchasers for the care and quality of the advertised goods and services.

Download the Red Cross Swim App!


Learn more about water safety, including simple steps you can take to help ensure the safety of your family in a variety of environments, such as home pools and the ocean.

TEXT ‘SWIM’ to 90999 or download from the Apple App StoreGoogle Play or Amazon Marketplace.

Red Cross Issues Tips to Keep You Safe This 4th of July

 Throughout the Fourth of July week, many people will be traveling, firingup the backyard grill or enjoying fireworks, and the American Red Cross offers a series of steps everyone can follow to safely enjoy the holiday.

FIREWORKS SAFETY The best way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Here are five safety steps for people setting fireworks off at home:

1. Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
2. Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
3. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
4. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
5. Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.

GRILLING SAFETY Every year people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. Here are several steps to safely cook treats for the backyard barbecue:

1. Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
2. Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
3. Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
4. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
5. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.

signsHIGHWAY SAFETY Millions of people will be on the highways throughout the Fourth of July week. The Red Cross offers five things everyone should do to stay safe while traveling:

1. Buckle seat belts, observe speed limits.
2. Do not drink and drive.
3. Pay full attention to the road – don’t use a cell phone to call or text.
4. Use caution in work zones.
5. Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows to help the driver see, especially at night. Turn theheadlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.


The Red Cross has a free Red Cross First Aid App to put expert advice for everyday emergencies at your fingertips. The app is available for smart phones and tablets and can be downloaded from the Apple or Google Play for Android app stores.

Have a safe and fun 4th of July!