A year unlike any other, special heroes came together to support their loved ones and the community. They stood on their feet, working long hours, putting their life on the line to help others.
We've received an overwhelming number of stories that
inspire us and display strength, courage & hope.
Thank you for submitting stories that were truly special!
Visit @AetrexRealSupportStories on Instagram to view ALL Stories submitted.
Here are the 10 Winners & their stories of hope, love, strength & resilience.
A Veteran of the U.S. Navy, a loving husband who continues to help other Veterans at the OKC hospital.
My husband is a 24 year 50% disabled veteran of the U.S. Navy who continued to work after retirement for the Veteran Administration, taking care of all the veterans in his hospital in OKC. Even though he has back and hip issues, he goes to work every day to take care of our cherished veterans. He has been working there for 14 years and never complains. He has had to step up and screen all the people who come into the hospital, putting him at high risk of Covid-19, but he thinks it’s worth it to serve the veterans. He will do all he can during this difficult time to help others, especially those that are at high risk of the virus. Our son followed in his footsteps and even works at the same hospital. I’m also a 50% disabled veteran and have served in the U.S. Army; we are a very patriotic family.
Story by Connie Cuenco
Shannon Van Geffen
A Thoracic oncology nurse practitioner, a wife and a mother to a newborn child who went back to the hospital after she gave birth to save lives.
My wife of 13 months is a thoracic oncology nurse practitioner at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Not only is she the kindest soul, she also lost her father to cancer when she was 10. I met Shannon in 2016 and immediately knew the best thing would be to have her in my life. She has what I refer to as a beautiful mind; her brilliance floored me. In 2019 she saw me go through my 17th reconstructive shoulder surgery in 18 years. 2020 would be greatly changed upon the pandemic. With her being pregnant, the hospital decided to start a remote role for those who were immunocompromised. She went from the thoracic department to 3 departments assisting the frontline doctors, nurse practitioners, insurance companies, admissions, discharges, labs, surgical clearances, and any other task that she would step up to before anyone could ask. On August 3rd, our beautiful daughter completed our family. She soon went back to the hospital to save lives as well as care for her patients. I get to raise our child, letting Cecilia know her mama is a superhero that saves humans.
Story by Adam Fleisher
A food pantry employee who goes above and behind for her community, organizing and making sure hundreds of people get their weekly food packages.
I would like to nominate Ms. Aja Purnell-Mitchell because she is a hardworking worker at a local food pantry. Her title is a food sourcing manager. During the 2020 year, she helped hundreds of people weekly with food and even assisted families with Christmas gifts. In addition, she assisted hundreds with food during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. The pandemic has been hard on the Durham community. She has been a real trooper with organizing food pick-up services for school teachers in the community. She is a big help. She is very loved.
Story by Claudette Belfield
A CRNA and caring mother who puts the needs of others ahead of her own by helping her patients and community members in need.
I nominate my mom Tracy Williams CRNA. She works in the operating room and takes care of sick people every day. Some days she has call shifts and can be on her feet for 16 hours. She has had to have injections in her feet for plantar fasciitis and Morton’s neuroma in the past. She bought a pair of your clogs to work in and boots to wear and has not needed to have shots since then. I know she’s been wanting a pair of the sneakers and the orthotics for her other shoes. She spends most of her money on me, so I know she hasn’t gotten them yet. She could've bought some for Christmas, but she donated a lot of money to a classmate whose mom died. It would be a great surprise for her to have the orthotics for her other shoes. I know her feet hurt; she’s been a nurse on them for 30 years. My mom has health issues like diabetes, she’s had several stomach surgeries and she had breast cancer a few years ago. Through it all she keeps working. She is a frontline worker and has had many Covid-19 patients which is scary. She’s deserving of this; she’s not only my hero, but a hero and example to many other people!
Story by Eric Williams
Kendra Copanas & team
Community members at General Health working towards an important cause - Improving access to quality care and coverage to save St. Louis’ babies and reduce infant mortality.
I live in St. Louis, Missouri. It is a great little city with lots of wonderful people, but it has some major issues like every city within our great nation. At the top of our list is race relations and violent crimes. One of the issues that we also struggle with is infant mortality. Black babies die at a rate of 3 to 1 compared to white babies in our city for a variety of reasons that include major systematic challenges such as lack of access to adequate health care, transportation, and food. Kendra and her team at Generate Health are making a significant impact in our community through the work that they are doing under the Flourish umbrella. I have watched these ladies have real impact in communities by bringing in the health care systems within our region to collaborate with the community and spur meaningful change, especially at a time like this amid the pandemic. I have witnessed them provide critical resources to mothers in need.
Story by John Head
A grocery store employee who works from 4am up to 11pm, even during holidays, to ensure all customers get their preferred groceries. He greets all the customers with kindness and respect.
I'm nominating my husband Dave. While most don't think about grocery store workers during this pandemic, they are very essential to us getting our groceries and food. They work tirelessly and on their feet for long hours, filling in for co-workers who get the virus, risking their own health to make sure we get our food. Dave greets customers with kindness and respect even when it is not returned. He works hard to provide for our family. I cherish every moment I have with him. He works long hours and may work at 4 am up to 11 pm. He is the worker who works during Thanksgiving and Christmas so your family can have everything they need for their meals. He deserves a round of applause for his commitment to helping his community.
Story by Kristine Janowiak
A 64-year-old who has worked for 40+ years in the grocery business. Despite being in the high-risk category for COVID-19, he goes to work every day and puts his health at risk to serve others.
I would like to nominate my 64-year-old dad, Curtis Pennington. He has worked in the grocery business since he was 17-years-old. Even though he was in a high age risk category for COVID-19, he still went to work every day. He put his own health at risk to serve the public that he has served for 40+ years. I am a nurse who has continued to work every day through the pandemic, but it truly honors me to call my dad a “hero” during this pandemic. Thank you!
Story by Genie Strassner
An extraordinary RN who took extra shifts to help the hospital during the pandemic. He helped many patients, all while supporting his wife who was expecting their first child.
Tim Morris is an extraordinary RN who has worked in the ICU before COVID-19. When COVID-19 appeared on the scene, we all questioned if working with those patients day in and day out was the best choice considering his family situation. His wife Halee was due with their first child in April 2020; then what to do once the baby got here. No one knew much about it; how it spread, what would happen to Halee or their unborn daughter, or what would happen to either one of them once their daughter Lynlee was born. Tim said, "I work with a great team and I feel this is where I need to be, where I can contribute the most to help people fight for their lives.” He takes extra shifts so that the nurses aren't shorthanded. He is patient, kind, and sympathetic with the Covid-19 family members. Tim is an amazing husband, father, and RN. Tim Morris has put himself and his family in harm’s way, sacrificing to save others every week! Tim Morris is definitely a 2020 Hero.
Story by Sandy Wright
A teacher, doctorate student who also volunteers as a paramedic. He gives 100% to his students by coming up with fun & engaging ways to teach and to his community by developing policies to protect fire & EMT responders.
Robby teaches high school history full time. He is working on obtaining his doctorate and volunteers as a paramedic. He comes up with all sorts of engaging ways for his students to learn. He developed the policies and procedures for his volunteer company to protect the fire and ems responders when Covid started. Robby gives 110% to his students and to his community. He could easily stepped back and let someone else volunteer. He is my hero!
Story by Jaye Smith
A Covid-19 janitorial cleaning team member who works on his feet for long hours despite suffering from foot pain to ensure every corner of the hospital is safe for patients, nurses & doctors.
My nominee is Jerry. He is on the janitorial team and is a part of the Covid cleaning team. He is on his feet for extremely long hours, cleaning every nook and cranny to keep each room, hallway and corner of the hospital safe for the patients, nurses, doctors and anyone else that enters. You hear a lot about the healthcare workers; they all deserve recognition too, but you don't hear about the heroes that work to keep them safe. Jerry is one of those heroes. Quiet, barely seen, behind the scenes, working hard in hot hazmat suits to keep everyone safe. He comes home and before he can do anything, he has to sit and put his feet up due to the pain from a day of running all over and keeping up with the influx of people coming in these days. He definitely deserves an orthotic that would help in any way, to make what he does just a little bit more comfortable for him. If I won for him, I would also donate the ones I would get for myself to some of the other cleaning service members on his team too. They all deserve these for what they do to help keep our healthcare workers and the patients safe.
Story by Jennifer Phillips