Two GC residents honored as heroes

 Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
 Grove City Relay for Life Chairperson Kelly Cotton, along with firefighter/paramedic Ron Thomas, were recognized for their community service on July 17 when they were named Grove City Hometown Heroes during a live B107.9 radio broadcast. Cotton was nominated by the city and Thomas, a Madison Township firefighter on medical leave, was nominated by the Jackson Township Fire Department.

A pair of Grove City Hometown Heroes were honored for their service to the community during a live radio broadcast on July 17 from the Hoover Road Jackson Township Fire Station 202.

Relay for Life Chairperson Kelly Cotton and firefighter and paramedic Ron Thomas, who is a Grove City resident, were recognized by B107.9, who tours the county with the monthly ceremony and provides free breakfast for listeners. Cotton was nominated as a Hometown Hero by the city and Thomas was nominated by the Jackson Township Fire Department.

"There were a lot of good people who came to mind," said Assistant Fire Chief Rick

Dawson. "Ron is a career firefighter with Madison Township who was diagnosed with brain cancer and he’ s fighting a good battle. Ron represents the best of the firefighting profession and the best of Jackson Township."

Firefighters from both departments (Madison and Jackson townships) filled the station’s service bay to watch one of their own honored for his dedication to saving lives, even as he struggles for his own.

Thomas, a Commercial Point native, was a Scioto Township Fire Department volunteer before joining the Madison Township Fire Department 18 years ago. He was hired by then Fire Chief Larry Flowers, who is now a state representative, in October 1990.

Thomas was diagnosed with a stage four brain tumor in January 2007 and went on medical leave. He moved to Grove City in 2002 and is the father of two teenage boys.

Cotton is in her first year as event chairperson for the annual Relay for Life, held June 20-21 at Grove City High School. She served as co-chair in 2007 and before that was a team captain for Cunningham’s Crew, named in honor of cancer survivor Craig Cunningham.

"I lost my mother to colon cancer," recalled Cotton, who said she became active with the fund raising event after her mother passed away. "It was a positive thing to do in her memory for our family, but it took a few years to find the positive. We’ve also lost three grandparents to cancer, so I’m a big advocate for testing. If I can help raise money or be an advocate for early detection, then I’ve realized my goal.

"Our daughter was a team captain this year and our sons were on the team. They raised $3,600. My husband, Chris, was the entertainment chairman, so it’s become a family event. The relay raised $103,000 last year and our goal this year was $110,000. So far we’ve raised almost $130,000."

Grove City Mayor Ike Stage called Cotton a "very special person" and said she is doing all of the right things.

"Kelly is just one more reason Grove City is a great place to live," commented the mayor prior to the presentation.

The 2009 Relay for Life two-day event is tentatively scheduled for June 19-20 at Grove City High School.

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