Carson City well represented at a breakfast of heroes

It occurred to me on Thursday morning that I was probably eating breakfast in the safest place in Nevada. Sitting at the tables around me were heroes of all sorts. Lifesavers in the form of doctors, nurses and everyday people who suddenly found themselves thrust into life-or-death situations. There were police officers, firefighters, EMTs ... all the types you'd expect to see at such a function (including the cardiac team from Carson-Tahoe Regional Medical Center, which earned the award in the Medical Rescue category). But there were also plenty of heroes from professions that have nothing to do with saving lives.

The event was the Real Heroes Breakfast for the Northern Nevada Chapter of the American Red Cross. There were dozens of people nominated at the Reno event, and Carson City and the surrounding area were well represented in just about every category. You've read about some of their exploits in this paper, including those of Keira Gray, whose nose told her about a major gas leak in he neighborhood that no one else noticed. It may have prevented an explosion.

Then there were lots of people who were recognized because they give so much of themselves to greater causes. Carson City employee Gina Menzel for helping with blood drives and volunteering in the community; Ron Bowman, who started Carson River Clean up days, in addition to the time he gives to Boy Scouts, seniors and many others; Dee Dee Foremaster, director of the Do Drop In homeless center that has helped so many people get off the streets; Mary Minor, a Dayton vet who not only saves animals, but mentors at-risk students of the human kind; Michael Smith of Douglas County, who has collected thousands of pounds of food for the Community Food Closet. The list goes on and on, and it's reassuring to know we've got these kinds of neighbors.

They're important not only for what they've done, but for what their examples inspire others to do. Just imagine what kind of community we'd be living in if there weren't people who gave so selflessly of themselves to others.

Those who came through in life-saving situations always present us with the unanswerable question of what we would have done in their situations. At the breakfast, that question sent me daydreaming back some 25 years to a television image of Lenny Skutnik diving into the ice-filled Potomac River.

It was after a plane crashed into the river in Washington, D.C., during a blizzard on Jan. 13, 1982. The crash killed 78 people, but left some survivors struggling in the water. It was when one of the survivors couldn't hold on to a rescue rope that Skutnik, a bystander, stripped off his coat, dove in and swam out to help her. I remember that video like it were yesterday, and how I wondered what I would have done if it were me standing on the snowy river bank.

On Thursday, when I read back on Skutnik and the crash, I found another story from that plane crash that I had not remembered, about a man named Arland D. Williams Jr. He was one of the survivors in the water that day. But as the lone helicopter crew returned to rescue the people in the water, he repeatedly passed the line to the others. By the time they returned to him, he had drowned.

Since that time, we've had many examples of heroism equally as inspiring, including after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. All raise that same question ... what would I have done? What would you have done?

In the room I was in Thursday morning, I think many people would have had no problem answering the question.


For some reason, it had not occurred to me that there are other Carson Cities until a co-worker sent me an e-mail link to a news story about an event that occurred in Carson, Calif., along with a note that some folks are confusing our Carson City with theirs.

After watching the video, I'm glad I'm in this Carson City. It shows a city council meeting where a resident finishes speaking, then walks past a commissioner and lightly swats the back of her head with a sheaf of papers, using hardly enough force to ruffle a fly. Yet the commissioner let out a scream as though she'd just been run through with a Bowie knife and then, slowly and mechanically, got down onto the floor as though she'd been knocked over. The swatter was arrested for battery.

Yes our Carson City has its share of drama, but this event was worthy of a Saturday Night Live skit. If you want to view it, visit the Web site and search for "Carson." That should bring up the link for the story "Chaos at Carson City Council Meeting."

That city's official name is Carson, but there are also two other cities called Carson City in the United States. One is in Mississippi and one is in Michigan. Both are tiny towns. I read what I could about them on the Internet and came up with this conclusion: You're in the best Carson City in the world.

• Barry Ginter is editor of the Appeal. You can reach him at 881-1221, or at


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