Deanna DiGiovanna looks as son Michael presents Brad Odenheimur with a Citizen Award. In November 2011, Odenheimur, Sean Mullins and George Lewis helped save Michael from drowning.
The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce hosted the 27th annual Valor Awards April 20 at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne.
The ceremony, emceed by ABC7 anchors Cynnẻ Simpson and Scott Thuman, honored members of Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority and the Loudoun County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services, in addition to 11 citizens, who have demonstrated exceptional bravery or action beyond the call of duty. INOVA Loudoun Hospital acted as the presenting sponsor.
The event started with an invocation from Pastor Fred Clark of the Christian Fellowship Church in Sterling. Kaitlyn Mayer, an 8-year-old from Ashburn, most famous for her appearance on “America’s Got Talent,” followed with a medley of patriotic tunes.
After a brief recess for lunch, presentation of the awards began.
Five types of awards were given April 20: Citizens Awards, Unit Citations, Meritorious Action Awards, Lifesaving Awards and Certificates of Valor.
Deputy Casey Johnson of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office received the first award of the afternoon, a Certificate of Valor, for his actions in recovering a 4-year-old girl who was hanging from the railing of a third-story balcony. Johnson was one of three deputies who received an award.
Fourteen individuals received Lifesaving Awards at the ceremony, including firefighter Nathaniel Moore, who restored a patient’s heartbeat when transporting him to the hospital. The award is Moore’s first.
“You have no second thoughts at all,” said Moore when asked about his actions in emergency situations.
Unit citations were awarded for several units for four separate in events. In all but one of the events, multiple units had to work together to solve crises ranging from dangerous flood waters to poison exposure.
Perhaps the most poignant moment came when the final award was given.
Seven-year-old Michael DiGiovanna and his father, Anthony DiGiovanna, were canoeing Nov. 27, 2011, at the Beaverdam Reservoir when their boat capsized. After the elder DiGiovanna shouted for help, Sean Mullins, who was at the shore with his family, instructed his wife to call 911 and then entered the water. When George Lewis and Brad Odenheimur, both then 17, approached and saw trouble, they also entered the water. The three were able to swim the younger DiGiovanna to shore.
Mullins attempted to reach Anthony, but he was unable to do so.
Both Michael and his mother, Deanna, presented the awards and all five people were met with a standing ovation.
“It was an honor and a privilege,” Deanna said of presenting the awards to the three people who saved her son. “Actions like that deserve recognition. They were selfless.”
With 103 people receiving awards, the event was the largest in the history of the Valor Awards.
Certificate of Valor: Casey Johnson, LCSO
Lifesaving Awards• Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority: Mark Porter, Amir Edwards, William Massey, Luis Castellon, Albert Michael Kulle, Joseph Spina Christian Tacik
Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office: Robert Heller
Loudoun County Fire and Rescue: Steven Staley, Dean Payne, Lindsay Jacobs, James McPherson, Robert Weaver and Nathaniel Moore
Meritorious Action Award: Shannon Coderre, LCSO
Loudoun County Fire and Rescue: James Williams (two), Tom Clappi, Michael Lamb, Micah Kiger (two), Mike Nichols, Michael Kehne (two), Rodney Frye, Jackson Shingleton, Michael Helmstetter, Josh Pebler, Mathew Wiles, Joseph Sullivan, Kyle Stephens, Matthew Rose, Jason Taylor, Randall Williamson, Boyd Morris, Michael French (two), Gordon Mackison, Samuel Myers, Jason Wilcox, Dominc Slater (two), Chris Kerkstra, Greg Moore, Michael Kenyon, John Hollar, Amanda Smith, Daniel Bishop, Daniel Bush, Jason Loveless, Brandon Copeland, Wade Mahaffey, Michael Johnson, Kevin Stiles, Corey Parker, Tom Menzenworth, Michael Mahoney, Michael Burrier, Aaron Sigler, Michael Dickinson, Nick Pierson, Jeff Dunn, Steven Style, Jason Strickland, William Burke, Kerri O’Brien, Brett Harne, Kristy Morgan, James Williams, Steven Staley, Robert Doody, James Cooper, Michael Ciaburri, Ed Butler, Aaron Watson, William Bliss, Michael Wallo, Jason Dice, Dean Payne, Karl Hummer, Eugene Sager, Ken Noe and Warren Valentine
Sterling Volunteer Rescue Squad: Paul O’Brien, David Fawcett (two), Morgan Parr (two), Shannon Murray, Jeremy Mader and Dave Brownell
Citizen Awards: Michelle Mustico, Michael Blake, James L. Cox, Jon Reynolds, Robert Glaze, Woodrow Herring, John Morgan, Woody Brown, Sean Mullins, George Lewis and Brad Odenheimer