This event will honor over 25 individuals who have risked their lives to save others and have demonstrated the power of determination and triumph of the human spirit.
Allentown, PA, September 26, 2022 – The Valley Preferred Spirit of Courage (VPSOC) awards, created by Burn Prevention Network (BPN), Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), and Valley Preferred, will be presented on October 18, 2022, at Lehigh Valley Hospital—Muhlenberg in Bethlehem, PA. The Spirit of Courage awards honor local heroes— including first responders and everyday citizens—who have risked their lives to save others from burn injury or death. One special advocate will be awarded the Walter J. Okunski Phoenix Award, recognizing the outstanding work a burn survivor does for others in the burn survivor community. Additionally, the Partners in Prevention Award is presented to an individual who has done an exceptional job educating community members about fire safety and burn prevention.
For over 15 years, the VPSOC awards ceremony has honored heroes and burn survivors who have helped others in the burn community. As one of the most esteemed events in eastern Pennsylvania, it attracts close to 1,000 first responders (firefighters, EMTs, police officers), burn care providers, and business people from the Lehigh Valley and across the state of Pennsylvania. A duo of emcees, including Mark Shepperd — emcee of the VPSOC awards nearly since its inception — and Nancy Werteen, will host the event. Along with being a radio personality with 101.1 MORE-FM, Shepperd is also a firefighter with King of Prussia Volunteer Fire Company Station #47. Werteen is an anchor and reporter with WFMZ-TV69 and co-founder of the Wisdom Coalition.
“Our honorees have remarkable stories, and we’re privileged to share their inspirational stories,” said Corissa Rolón, CEO and executive director, BPN. “We are grateful to be able to celebrate each and every individual at this event. This ceremony also provides vital funding that supports our organization’s Camp Susquehanna for young burn survivors and Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Regional Burn Center burn survivor support programs.”
List of Recipients:
Walter J. Okunski Phoenix Award will be presented to Chris Kudela, Gilbertsville, PA.
Spirit of Courage Award will be presented to the following honorees:
Kristen Simpson – Scranton Counseling Center, Scranton, PA.
Kenneth Moore – Scranton Counseling Center, Scranton, PA.
Michael Ruane – The Prescription Center, Scranton, PA.
Ryan Chu – Eastern Salisbury Fire Department, Allentown, PA.
Dennis Takacs, Jr. – Eastern Salisbury Fire Department, Allentown, PA.
Richard Rolen – Eastern Salisbury Fire Department, Allentown, PA.
Joshua Wells – Western Salisbury Fire Department, Allentown, PA.
Kenneth Brooke, Jr. – City of Reading/Department of Fire Rescue, Reading, PA.
Steven Turner – City of Reading/Department of Fire Rescue, Reading, PA.
Kurtis Knauss – City of Reading/Department of Fire Rescue, Reading, PA.
Matthew Azrolan- City of Reading/Department of Fire Rescue, Reading, PA.
Joshua Green – City of Reading/Department of Fire Rescue, Reading, PA.
Cody Schaeffer – City of Reading/Department of Fire Rescue, Reading, PA.
Timothy Conti – City of Reading/Department of Fire Rescue, Reading, PA.
Jeffrey Schrack – City of Reading/Department of Fire Rescue, Reading, PA.
Patrick Walls – City of Reading/Department of Fire Rescue, Reading, PA.
Eric Billimoria – Lower Saucon Fire Rescue, Bethlehem, PA.
Bryan Evans – Lower Saucon Fire Rescue, Bethlehem, PA.
Chris Miller – Dewey Fire Company, Hellertown, PA.
Scott Nocek – Lower Saucon Fire Rescue, Bethlehem, PA.
Benjamin Steidinger – Germansville, PA.
Robert Watkins – Nesquehoning, PA.
Thomas Kattner – Nesquehoning, PA.
Megan Saltsman – Lehigh County 911 Dispatch, Allentown
Shane Devlin – Lehigh County 911 Dispatch, Walnutport
The Partners in Prevention Award will be presented to Allentown resident and immediate past Executive Director of Burn Prevention Network, B. Daniel Dillard, for his dedication to creating a world without burns over the past 40 years.
The annual VPSOC award program is brought to you by BPN in partnership with Valley Preferred and LVHN. Thank you to this event’s additional sponsors: Gold sponsor Highmark Blue Shield and silver sponsors Kistler O’Brien Fire Protection, MedEvac, PA Fire Recovery Service, WFMZ-TV, Service Electric Cable TV, and Gilbert Funeral Home.
Please reserve tickets by October 4, 2022. To learn more about the Valley Preferred Spirit of Courage program and to RSVP to this event, visit BPN’s website.
About Burn Prevention Network
Burn Prevention Network (BPN) is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization based in the Lehigh Valley with national, state, and regional programs. We strive to create a world without burns. We will accomplish that goal with our full array of burn programs: prevention, intervention, medical outcome quality improvement, and burn survivor support programs. BPN has a 35+ year history of successful program and service delivery and is one of the most respected burn nonprofits in the U.S. BPN has established multiple collaborative service partnerships with organizations ranging from Lehigh Valley Health Network, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, over 350 fire/EMS organizations, over 1,000 schools and daycares, and numerous businesses and corporations. BPN reaches people at risk for burns through collaboration with a wide network of community partners and works with fire services, first responders, emergency service groups, educators, health care provider organizations, community service groups and others dedicated to spreading awareness of fire and burn safety and prevention issues, programs and services.
Information provided to TVL by: