Fresh battery power in smoke alarms is not usually a list topper for discussion at a formal reception. But the 25th anniversary of Operation Save-A-Life gave the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Chapter an additional reason for celebrating at this year’s Fire and Ice Ball.
Since 1992, when former chapter executive Steve D. Bullock conceived the program, the Red Cross has partnered with local fire departments and community groups to install smoke alarms free of charge. In 2016, the partnerships installed more than double the goal – 13, 000 smoke alarms – in Northeast Ohio. This year’s goal of 10,000 alarms was reached four months early. The Red Cross estimates more than 215 lives have been saved because of working smoke alarms installed through Red Cross partnerships.
Ricky and Patricia Tunstall are living proof. The couple was among the 60 residents driven from the North Randall apartments in a February fire. “When my wife and I were forced to leave our home, we had only the clothes on our backs,” Ricky Tunstall told the 400 attendees. “We didn’t know when we’d be back. But the Red Cross showed up right away to calm us down and walk us through what exactly we needed to do to get through it.”
The gala, which raised $350,000 to support the region’s Red Cross programs, also honored Beth E. Mooney, chairman and CEO of KeyCorp., with the Steve D. Bullock Humanitarian Award. After receiving the award for her career-long commitment to community-based service, Ms. Mooney stepped into the audience to embrace the award’s namesake, an apt acknowledgment of Mr. Bullock and the importance of fresh batteries and fire alarms. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY PEGGY TURBETT