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Red Cross recognizes Pittsburgh heroes who stepped up to aid others

| Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Sgt. Kevin Faulds, Richard Spear, Petty Officer Bill Gregor, Karlea Holub, and Darryl Jones, Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Chief, (from left,) are photographed after being honored during the 5th Annual Red Cross Heroes Breakfast at the Consol Energy Center, Thursday, September 26, 2013.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Richard Spear was honored at the Fifth Annual Red Cross Heroes Breakfast Thursday, September 26, 2013.
Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media
Allegheny County Sherriff's Sgt. Kevin Faulds shares a quiet moment with his, McKenna, after he was honored with the Professional Responder Hero Award during the 5th Annual Red Cross Heroes Breakfast on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, in Consol Energy Center.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Sgt. Kevin Faulds, Richard Spear, Petty Officer Bill Gregor, Karlea Holub, and Darryl Jones, Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Chief, (from left,) are photographed after being honored during the 5th Annual Red Cross Heroes Breakfast at the Consol Energy Center, Thursday, September 26, 2013.
Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media
Allegheny County Sherriff's Sgt. Kevin Faulds smiles after receiving the Professional Responder Hero Award during the 5th Annual Red Cross Heroes Breakfast on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, in Consol Energy Center.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Sgt. Kevin Faulds, 37, of Whitehall, Allegheny County Sherriff's deputy, kisses his 3-month-old daughter, McKenna, after he was honored with the Professional Responder Hero Award during the 5th Annual Red Cross Heroes Breakfast at the Consol Energy Center, Thursday, September 26, 2013.
Bill Gregor, 39, of Karns City, Military Hero
Pittsburgh Fire Chief Darryl Jones, 53, of Brookline, Red Cross Community Leadership Award
David McCleary, 49, of New Alexandria, Education Hero
Karlea Holub, 18, of Ellsworth, Youth Hero
Marjorie Montanari, 84, of Lower Burrell, Lifetime Commitment to the Red Cross Hero

Richard Spear first became interested in helping orphans as a boy watching Mickey Rooney in the movie, “Boys Town.”

“Many years ago, I thought to myself, ‘I have a good life compared to orphans,' ” said Spear, 71, of South Fayette. ”I was only 10 or 12 years old.”

About 60 years later, he has raised nearly $1.7 million to help orphans in Colombia and Haiti. On Thursday, he was one of seven people the American Red Cross honored at its fifth annual Heroes Breakfast in Consol Energy Center.

Spear said he first turned his attention to orphans in Colombia because it was more manageable than Haiti. Still, it was not easy.

“Colombia was frightening,” said the retired Duquesne University baseball coach. “At that time, there was major devastation throughout the city because of drug dealers and Communist guerrillas trying to take the country over. I was told not to leave my hotel room. When I did leave, I took a taxi that the hotel got for me.”

Three years ago, he said, he felt ready to take on the troubles of Haiti.

“When I first went to Haiti, I got off the airplane, and I could literally smell poverty,” he said.

He has improved three orphanages — two in Haiti and one in Colombia — and built another in Haiti. In addition, he paid for a Colombian orphan to go through medical school and three of her sisters and brother to get through college. The brother is now in medical school.

Spear is leaving on Monday for Haiti, where he will help an orphanage build a kitchen, dining room and an addition to the dormitory. He's preparing to build a dormitory at another orphanage. To help him, visit http://calicharityfund.org.

“I can't (relax),” he said. “I've worked constantly all my life.”

The Red Cross also honored Allegheny County deputy sheriff Sgt. Kevin Faulds.

He received the Professional Responder Hero award for subduing three men who endangered Downtown workers and passers-by during a gunfight on a Friday afternoon in April. Two of the men were shot.

“I had a job to do,” said Faulds, 37, of Whitehall. “My main concern was trying to stop the threat, making sure nobody else got hurt.”

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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