A top hero in Florida
April 9, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson earlier this year asked Floridians to take a look at the folks around them and find the unsung heroes in our midst. From among 120 or so stories Nelson’s office received, a panel of judges - consisting exclusively of Medal of Honor recipients – then selected Mark Crawford of Defuniak Springs as Florida’s top hero.
Crawford was the state’s lone representative and one of fifty-one finalists chosen for the Citizen Honors, one from each state and the District of Columbia. From among these finalists, the panel then selected three individuals to receive the Above and Beyond Citizen Honors. Although Crawford didn’t win one of the three national honors, Nelson said he’s tops in his book.
The Above and Beyond Citizen Honors awards are offered annually by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, which was chartered by Congress in 1958 and is made up of the fewer than 100 living recipients of the Medal of Honor. The Medal of Honor is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. president on behalf of the Congress on members of the military who showed valor in combat.
Crawford’s story of selflessness came to light after Nelson set up a form on his Website in February of this year to help find Florida’s finest citizens, asking for nominations of exemplary citizens who have demonstrated a long-term commitment to service above self or who have, at great risk, helped others through a single act of heroism.
It was 4 a.m. on Jan. 31 of last year that Crawford was traveling westbound on I-10 when he saw what appeared to be debris in the middle of the road. Upon passing, he realized it was a body. He stopped and discovered a badly injured and unconscious female lying in the middle of the road.
Realizing that traffic along I-10 would only increase as rush hour traffic neared, he contacted 911 for assistance and then moved the woman to safety on the side of the road. Later, authorities discovered her wrecked vehicle in trees in the median of the highway.
Crawford was just one among about 120 people whose stories came to light through Nelson’s call. Nelson turned them over to judges in the Citizen Honors. Here are some other stories of Florida’s unsung heroes.
A Naples woman has Parkinson’s disease but doesn’t let that stop her from helping others with the illness. She is known for traveling to speak to support groups, driving other patients to doctors appointments and advocating on behalf of patients.
A firefighter at Kennedy Space Center was off duty with his two sons when they witnessed the collision of two small airplanes. They ran to the crash site and pulled two victims from the burning wreckage.
A Miami dentist has given free dental care to low income communities for almost two decades. He covers all the costs for underprivileged patients.
“These stories illustrate what’s great about America,” Nelson said today. “These individuals all put the welfare of their fellow citizens above their own.”