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Good News: Hero Firefighter Runs Tunnel to Towers on New Lungs

Some stories put a smile on your face. Here's our wrap-up from around Suffolk County.

Firefighter Jerry Hildreth. Credit: Rick Nydegger
Firefighter Jerry Hildreth. Credit: Rick Nydegger
As a local news organization, Patch covers stories of all kinds, from heartbreaking tragedies to nitty-gritty breakdowns of government and school district issues. But some stories are simply inspiring, often showing that at the heart of our communities is a desire to do good. Here are some of the touching headlines from the past seven days.

Firefighter With Lung Transplant Runs Tunnel to Towers

Two years ago, Hampton Bays firefighter Jerry Hildreth didn't even know if he would live to see Christmas. But after a double lung transplant he vowed to do "everything any anything" he couldn't do before — including participating in the Tunnel to Towers run in New York City.

This past weekend, he crossed the run, which is a tribute to all 343 firefighters and first responders who died on 9/11, off his list. He finished the three and a half mile course in full-gear in an hour and 20 minutes — his fellow firefighters by his side.

"I wanted to do this and make it public so I can stress the need for donors — all organ donors. They save lives. I am proof of that," he said.

Teacher Honored for Saving Student’s Life

Lindenhurst High School physical education teacher Diane Pollard was recently selected for the American Heart Association’s Heartsaver Hero Award, given in recognition of her participation in helping to save the life of a high school student.

The student fell off his chair in a science lab and Ms. Pollard, along with the school nurses and coach Richard Rogers, responded immediately. Ms. Pollard administered the automated external defibrillator and was nominated for the award for her heroic efforts.

Teen Takes Pharmaceutical Software Global

Matthew O'Connell, a junior at Commack High School, recently traveled to Dublin to present his pharmaceutical pictogram software.

The pictogram software works to help pharmacists worldwide accurately communicate with patients who speak a different language or have difficulty understanding and reading the literature that accompanies medications.

Soccer Tourney Targets Breast Cancer

The Northport Cow Harbor United Soccer Club raised $32,000 for breast cancer research in its annual Columbus Day weekend tournament last year. This year, the goal is to beat the previous total during its 25th anniversary.

Good Sam Ball Raises $400K for Cancer Center

More than 400 guests joined the 2013 Gala Honorees, West Islip residents Lorraine and John Pace. The ball raised more than $425,000 to support The Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation, with proceeds to benefit the Cancer Center at Good Samaritan Hospital.

Inspiration from Woodwork

Port Jefferson art teacher Richard Anderson gave students at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School a chainsaw woodcarving demonstration this week. With five enormous wooden masterpieces in tow, Anderson chipped away to create a sculpture in a matter of minutes for his students.

“This is a relatively new art form that has really exploded in popularity over the past 20 years,” said Anderson. “It began as a type of folk art, but has matured into a fine art.”

One Smart Senior

Needing a junior-year cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher to qualify, Sayville Senior Heather Leahy earned the 2013-2014 National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar status as a result of her 2012 PSAT/MMSQAT/PAA scores.

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