Heroes to be honored at Red Cross ball
GREENWICH — All they were trying to do was take a vacation. Little did they know they would wind up in a life-or-death nightmare right out of the movies.
It was August 2015, and U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, Army Reservist Alex Skarlatos and friend Anthony Sadler Jr. were traveling on a high-speed train from Paris to Amsterdam, when a gunman opened fire. The three leapt to action and, with the help of two others, wrestled the gunman to the ground, preventing what could have been a terrorist massacre from taking place.
The trio will bring their story to the Greenwich area next month as part of the Red Cross’ 2017 Red and White Ball — “A Salute to Service and Valor.” The event will honor their actions along with the service of U.S. Army veteran J.R. Martinez, a Purple Heart recipient for severe injuries sustained in Iraq.
“This is the only fundraiser we do all year round,” said Mary Young, CEO of the American Red Cross Metro New York North chapter, which includes Greenwich and several New York counties. “It truly sustains us.”
The ball is in its 32nd year and is tied to the Red Cross’ support of the armed services that goes all the way back to Clara Barton during the Civil War.
Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler will each receive the American Red Cross Hero award.
Red and White Ball Co-Chair Linda Chase-Jenkins, a Greenwich resident, called their actions “incredibly courageous.”
Young praised them for not hesitating in the face of danger.
“They jumped right into action at their own peril to save the lives of the passengers on the train,” she said. “They are true heroes and we are thrilled to be able to thank them for their courage and selflessness.”
They will not be the only honorees. Martinez, an actor and motivational speaker as well as a past winner on Dancing with the Stars, will receive the American Red Cross Exceptional Service Award at the ball. While serving in Iraq in 2003, he sustained burns to 34 percent of his body after his Humvee struck an IED.
Chase-Jenkins said he was perfect for the event because he is such a dynamic and inspirational speaker.
“We wanted to up the game this year,” Chase-Jenkins said. “The Red Cross is such an amazing organization and it does so much for the military. People might not be aware of just how much. We wanted to be able to highlight it.”
Additionally, NetJets will receive the American Red Cross Corporate Leadership Award at the event, which will take place April 29 at NetJets’ hangar at Westchester County Airport.
Tickets, starting at $600, are available online at www.redcross.org/mnynball. People can also donate to the Red Cross, offer items for the ball’s silent and live auctions, or become patrons of the event at www.501auctions.com/redandwhiteball.
Proceeds will go to the Red Cross’ efforts to help people in need — in disasters big and small.
“When the fire trucks finish putting out a fire, we’re the car that’s sitting behind them,” Young said. “We’re the ones that are there when people feel they have nowhere else to turn. When people have lost everything, we’re going to be there to respond.”
The Red Cross also offers other services in Greenwich through the year such as CPR health and survival training and blood drives, one of which was held on Monday that brought in 107 units of blood, a new record for the region.
But it will be the agency’s longstanding ties to the military that will be celebrated at the Red and White Ball. The local chapter, like many others, sends supplies to deployed soldiers, and the agency provides many services to wounded soldiers, including mental health help.
“We want to be there for soldiers from the moment they enlist to throughout them being veterans after their service,” Young said.