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Life-saving responders receive hero award


XENIA — A group of first responders were honored Saturday for their quick thinking and actions to save a man’s life.

Luke Neikirk, a lieutenant with the Cedarville Township volunteer fire department; Don Parvin, captain with Cedarville University campus security; Jayson Neri, Cedarville University campus security officer and member of the Cedarville police department; Jason Robison, with the Village of Cedarville’s police department; and Dr. John Vitaliti, an anesthesiologist, were awarded the Sheriff Gene Fischer Hero Award for their life-saving action during the annual Xenia Chamber of Commerce award dinner.

Vitaliti was playing tennis with Abraham Awabdy, of Xenia, when he went into cardiac arrest and collapsed to the ground on a court at CU. Within a couple of minutes, Cedarville University’s campus security and village of Cedarville police took immediate action that saved Awabdy.

“I had just got home from work when I saw a cardiac arrest notification on my pager,” Neikirk said. “I went to the scene, and campus security and Cedarville PD were already doing compressions. After using an AED to administer a shock, we retrieved a pulse and gave him care as he was transported to the Miami Valley Hospital.”

After receiving medical care, Awabdy was able to walk out of the hospital and return home three days later.

The first-year award was part of the annual Xenia Chamber of Commerce gala that was held at the Greene County Fairgrounds. This is the first year this award has been presented, which is in memory of Fischer, who served in law enforcement in Greene County from 1983 until his death on Nov. 16, 2021. He began his career with the Fairborn Police Department as a volunteer officer. In 1983, he joined the Xenia Police Division, and he was selected as the Greene County Sheriff in 2003.

The theme of this year’s event was “The Wizard of Oz,” according to a release from the Chamber.

“Truly, there’s no place like Xenia, Ohio,” said Donna Saraga, chamber president. “Besides an Oz-like tornado history, the people are also special. The community takes care of each other in many ways, much like these first responders did.”

There were six other prestigious awards handed out Saturday.

The Robert G. Babb Award — given by the past chairman of the board to the person who gave them the most significant contribution to their chairmanship — went to Xenia Development Director Steve Brodsky. Cited for his long-time commitment to the chamber and his wealth of information about the community that often served the rest of the executive board in its decisions, Brodsky often supports the chamber by regularly attending special events and promoting the chamber throughout the Xenia community.

The Russ Remick Retail — Service Award, presented to a chamber member business or organization that has distinguished itself in the retail or service industry, went to Greene CATS Public Transit. Woody Stroud accepted the award on behalf of the 54 employees who provide approximately 75,000 one-way trips annually to residents of Greene County, particularly those who are transportation disadvantaged.

The Dodds Monuments – Industrial Award, which publicly recognizes a company that has distinguished itself in the manufacturing or the research and development industry, or in distribution and warehousing, went to MRL Materials Resources for its leadership in research and science of metallic additively manufactured material. Ayman Salem accepted on behalf of this company that strives to create a place of community for its employees and to help the Xenia community by creating new jobs and career opportunities with the help of an extensive and lucrative internship program for technicians and college students to learn advanced manufacturing techniques.

The Barb Zajbel Xenia Ambassador Award, — given to publicly recognize an individual, organization, or business that is an advocate and champion of Xenia and has a history of promoting Xenia locally, regionally, nationally and/or internationally — went to Cynthia Stemple of the Coffee Hub. Stemple has not only created a place to meet friends and grab a cup of coffee, but she has helped invest into the lives of the people within the Xenia community. With her leadership and dedication to promote the welfare of the Xenia community, she has helped to start the non-profit Hope Hub and shares this initiative, locally, regionally, and nationally.

The Colonel S.L. Stephan Award, established in 1986 to publicly recognize a person who has worked unselfishly, through voluntary services, to promote the Xenia Area Chamber of Commerce and the Xenia Community for at least the past two years, went to Tobia Pierce of SilverArrow Financial. Pierce served as the chairperson for the Chamber’s Women In Business Program and participates in many important community programs. She is a member of the Xenia Rotary Club and her active engagement within the Xenia community makes her an inspiration to her colleagues and peers.