According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of hero is a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability, an illustrious warrior, a person admired for achievements and noble qualities and one who shows great courage. Often times heroes do not wear capes and are everyday people who live and work in our community.
The 100 Club of Buffalo was established to provide assistance to the members and families of police, fire and emergency medical service agencies when necessary.
On Friday, February 21st, 2020, The 100 Club of Buffalo hosted the 61st Annual Hero Awards Dinner at The Country Club of Buffalo and honored seven individuals and one organization from Western New York for acts of heroism in emergency situations.
Representatives of local law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services as well as 100 Club of Buffalo Members and supporters enjoyed cocktails and an opening procession led by a bagpiper before the dinner and event started. Peter Casilio, the President of the 100 Club of Buffalo introduced Jeff Slawson of WBKW-TV, the night’s emcee and NYS Trooper John J. Moretti (Ret.) led the Pledge of Allegiance. Father David Richards, Priest Administrator of Our Lady of Pompeii Catholic Church led gave the Invocation Prayer and Peter Casilio followed with opening remarks.
The 2019 Hero Awards were given this year to The Erie County Sheriff’s Office, The New York State Police, one Buffalo Firefighter, The Buffalo Police Department, Rochester Police Department, New York State Park Police and Erie County Medical Center.
2019 Hero Award Recipients
Erie County Sheriff’s Office
(presented by Arthur E. Duc Musarra III)
In March 2019, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit arrested 39 year old Willie Loyd after a lengthy narcotics investigation. Willie Loyd had an extensive criminal history and was on parole after serving time for a previous conviction for the sale of narcotics. Loyd and his gang of dangerous drug dealers were responsible for flooding the East Side of Buffalo with fentanyl and other deadly drugs.
With over 14 years in law enforcement and one of the best undercover officers in Erie County, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit knows how to stop crime and keep our community safe. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit played a vital role in the success of this investigation. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit was able to work his way up “the criminal food chain”, ultimately dealing directly with Loyd.
Subsequently, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit was able to make multiple purchases of fentanyl directly from Loyd. With each transaction, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit put themself in harm’s way every time they encountered Loyd and his violent crew. These purchases ultimately resulted in the Erie County Sheriff’s Office obtaining a search warrant for a premise on Zenner Street in the City of Buffalo, where the Narcotics Unit seized approximately 500 grams of fentanyl. The seizure prevented this extremely dangerous and lethal drug from reaching the street.
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit team’s courage and willingness to risk their lives, time and time again, to prevent this and other deadly drugs from reaching the streets, has saved countless lives.
For this reason, as well as his selfless dedication to the safety of our community, I am pleased to honor the Erie County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit with a 100 Club of Buffalo Hero Award.
Congratulations to the Erie County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit!
Firefighter Anna Ventresca – Buffalo Fire Department
(presented by Bill Fierce)
On May 20, 2019 at approximately 1530 hours, Truck 6 from Buffalo Fire was dispatched to 10 Harlow Place for a report of a structure fire. Upon arrival, heavy fire was showing from the front window of a 2 1/2 story wood frame. A bystander on the street reported to the officer of E21that there was a woman still inside that sleeps on the couch on the first floor.
Engine 21 stretched an 1 3/4” line to the rear door. Rescue 1 and Truck 6 members began to conduct a primary search. Two members were trying to make entry via the front door but the fire was too hot and too advanced to initiate a search. In the meantime, members of Rescue 1 and Truck 6 were conducting a primary search through the back of the structure while Engine 21 was advancing the hose line.
The fire continued to grow and at one point wrapped behind the crews which can be an extremely dangerous predicament. Heat conditions began to rise significantly and the situation seemed dire. Two members had to exit through a window, while others backed onto the porch.
As the officers of Truck 6 and Engine 21 started to account for their members, Firefighter Ventresca yelled from inside the structure that she had located a victim and was dragging her out. Firefighter Ventresca had gotten ahead of the crews of Truck 6 and made contact with the victim on the couch under extreme fire conditions with zero visibility.
Firefighters Nasca and Jackson of Rescue 1 assisted Firefighter Ventresca with removing the woman from the structure. As the woman was being brought back to safety, Command called for an emergency evacuation and tactics went defensive. The rescue was made in the nick of time.
All members made it out safely with two suffering burns to their legs, wrists and face. All members of Engine 21, Truck 6 and Rescue 1 were an integral part of the rescue that day but we especially want to acknowledge the bravery of Firefighter Anna Ventresca for putting her life on the line to save another. For your heroism and courage, I am please to present you with a 100 Club of Buffalo Hero Award.
Lieutenant Vincent Judge and Officer Matthew Cross – Buffalo Police Department
(presented by Chief Sam Palmiere)
On April 9th, 2019 Buffalo Police Officers Lieutenant Vincent Judge and Police Officer Matthew Cross, while on patrol, observed a suspicious vehicle occupied by two males and illegally parked outside of 112 Southhampton. As the Officers approached the vehicle, PPO Matthew Cross took the passenger side and utilizing his flashlight began looking into the vehicle when he noticed a semi automatic hand gun in the passenger’s waistband.
Without hesitation, PPO Cross opened the passengers door, gained control of the subject and informed his partner Lieutenant Judge of the gun in the suspects control. As Officer Cross gave the suspect commands and controlled his hands and upper body, Officer Judge came to the passenger side of the vehicle and all three began fighting for control of a weapon that was in possession of a violent felon on parole. The suspect continued to fight for control of the weapon and refused to obey any Officers’ commands.
Eventually, Lieutenant Judge was able to gain control of the weapon and threw it on the lawn of 112 Southhampton but the suspect continued fighting inside the vehicle while the Officers attempted to take him into custody. When it became apparent to the suspect he was losing the battle, he screamed for the driver in the vehicle to drive away – with both Officers still half-way in the vehicle. The driver, another violent felon, slammed the car into drive and took off at a high rate of speed dragging the Officers against the pavement. Lieutenant Judge was thrown from the vehicle first, followed by Officer Cross who had his lower body run over by the suspect’s vehicle.
Although both Officers sustained injuries during the struggle with the felons, they stayed in the fight and radioed to incoming backup cars. The suspects vehicle crashed into a tree in the 1500 block of Ellicott Street at which point the two felons fled on foot through the yards in an attempt to escape. At the time the suspects had crashed, Officers Cross and Judge were able to provide a description and name of the suspects to other responding officers.
Within minutes, Officer Zsiros located one of the suspects hiding in a dumpster and apprehended that individual without incident. Shortly after the first suspect was taken into custody, the second outstanding felon was found hiding under a vehicle a short distance away by Officer Devon Ottay and taken into custody without incident.
Both Officers Judge and Cross showed extreme heroism, dedication and devotion to duty from the start of this contact to the very end. Their quick decisive actions, resulted in the arrest of two violent parolees in possession of a .45 caliber handgun fully loaded with one in the chamber.
For these officers heroic actions on this day and making the City of Buffalo a safer place, I am honored to present Lieutenant Judge and Officer Cross with a 100 Club of Buffalo a Hero Award.
Congratulations Vincent and Matthew!
Officer Denny Wright – Rochester Police Department
(presented by Jennifer O’Neill)
On October 4, 2019, Officer Denny Wright was dispatched for a report of family trouble in progress at 37 Peck Street in Rochester. The initial dispatch was for a 27 year old Grandson, who was “acting crazy”.
Upon arrival at the scene, Officer Wright entered and observed a male, hiding under a bed in a common living area on the first floor. Officer Wright called the suspect out and calmly began to try and ask him if anything was wrong. The suspects response was incoherent and he appeared to be somewhat unstable.
Wright requested an ambulance and continued to speak with the suspect. A couple minutes later the suspect came out from under the bed and began acting agitated. At this point, Officer Wright requested another car while trying to calm the suspect down as he attempted to run past him and out the front door.
The suspect suddenly struck Officer Wright with his fist and both fell to the floor. The suspect draws a knife and began to strike in a downward motion towards Office Wright’s head, face and lower body. Injured and on his back, Officer Wright fired a single shot, missing the suspect, as the suspect’s knife attack continued.
A citizen calls 911 reporting the shot fired and an officer in trouble. Even though Wright was seriously injured in his face, eye, head and neck, he was still able to gain control over the suspect. Officer Wright and a few neighbors were able to subdue the suspect until additional officers arrived. As the suspect was taken into custody he still fought against the officers. Officer Wright assisting in taking the suspect into custody until he was transported to Rochester General Hospital.
The injuries sustained by Officer Wright have left him blinded but have not taken away his fighters’ spirit, sense of humor or the respect we have always had for him. Officer Wright’s actions were extraordinary and his unwillingness to quit, under such a violent attack, makes each one of his Brothers and Sisters proud to wear the badge and call him their friend.
Thank you for your sacrifices on October 4th and putting your life on the line. I’m honored to present you with a 100 Club of Buffalo Hero Award. Congratulations Denny!
Major Clyde Doty – New York State Park Police
(presented by Sr. Investigator Rich Qualey)
On November 7, 2019, Niagara patrols responded to a victim in the Niagara River Rapids holding onto a branch near the brink of the American Falls. The victim, Steve Rankin, was located near Luna Island alive in the river and rescue operations were started.
An unsuccessful first attempt was made at approximately 12:45 by Niagara Falls Fire, due to the strength of the current. A second attempt from a different location was made by Niagara Falls Fire at 1308 hours. During that attempt, Major Doty approached Captain Rola and said we should really have someone on Bird Island in case he breaks free and would get washed over. Major Doty and Captain Rola grabbed two ice water suits and two rope bags from the Niagara Zone rescue truck and responded onto Bird Island. A large crowd gathered and started to gasp due to Rankin purposely slipping out of the harness that Niagara Falls Fire had put on him, Rankin at this time was floating down the Niagara River towards the American Falls.
Doty yelled to Rola for the rope and carabiniere himself and entered the water. As Doty entered, he was knocked back due to the current and drifted down river towards the falls, at that time Captain Rola held the rope and then secured the rope to a tree. Major Doty was able to regain his footing and worked his way up the river against the current toward the floating victim. As Rankin was being swept down river, Doty was able to physically catch him at 1330 hours. Doty then held the victim in his arms until Niagara Falls Fire responded and went out to assist Doty.
At 1356 hours the victim and Major Doty were brought to shore by Niagara Falls Fire and Captain Rola. Rankin was pulled from the water and carried in a stokes basket to a waiting ambulance. Rankin survived and is alive today.
Major Clyde Doty’s heroic actions were clearly exceptional police work involving direct personal risk of serious physical injury to himself. His experience and foresight to set-up on Bird Island in case the victim possibly broke loose saved Rankin’s life. For your bravery and quick actions in the Niagara River, I am pleased to present Major Doty with a 100 Club of Buffalo Hero Award.
Dedicated Clinical Staff – Roger W. Siebel, MD, Burn Treatment Center and Jessica Cameron – Erie County Medical Center
(presented by Dr. Joshua Lynch)
For more than 30 years, The Roger W. Seibel, MD Burn Treatment Center at ECMC has provided 24/7 care by a skilled healthcare team, providing specialized care to patients sustaining serious burns or other skin injuries requiring specialized treatment.
Caring for more than 1,000 outpatients and 200 inpatients annually, ECMC’s dedicated Burn Treatment Center clinicians have developed innovations in burn and trauma care that have become standards throughout the country. But more importantly, these caregivers combine hard-work, dedication, compassion, empathy, cooperation and quality services that are focused on each patient’s road to recovery.
The combined effort of the Center’s surgeons, critical care nurses, burn techs, therapists, psychologists, case managers, nutrition specialists and ophthalmologists brings a level of patient care that is a source of great pride to the team and the entire ECMC Family.
In 2019, the Burn Treatment Center team cared for many patients, but they will always hold a special place in their hearts for Jessica Cameron who demonstrated incredible courage and strength as she progressed along her recovery. Jessica has been and always will be a source of inspiration for the caregivers of ECMC’s Roger W. Siebel, MD Burn Treatment Center.
Thank you to the entire team from The Roger W. Siebel, MD Burn Treatment Center. You make the well-being of your patients your primary focus by providing compassion and great care. For your skill, dedication, care and compassion for Jessica and all patients, it is my honor to present you with a 100 Club of Buffalo Hero Award.
Lifetime Achievement Award
A special award was saved for the end of the presentations. Peter Casilio received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding leadership and contributions to the 100 Club of Buffalo. Dave Hatcher, new president of the 100 Club of Buffalo presented Peter with this award and both spoke to close out the ceremony.
The 100 Club of Buffalo would like to thank the following sponsors who help to make our 62nd Annual Hero Awards Dinner a success
Erie County Medical Center
Catholic Health System
Bison Iron & Step
2020 – 100 Club Hero Awards Table Sponsors:
Erie County Medical Center
Dr. & Mrs. Joshua Lynch
Buffalo Police PBA
Buffalo Fire Union
New York State Police PBA
New York State Park Police
Buffalo Firefighters Union
Rochester Police Union – The Locust Club
Erie County Sheriff’s PBA