In June of 2017, the Observer-Reporter launched a new project, "ExtraORdinary People," a series that recognizes the unsung heroes in our own community. Each month, a panel of community and philanthropic leaders select one winner from nominations submitted by our readers, and we share their story and give them a donation to be given to the charity of their choice.
If you know someone who should be celebrated as an ExtraORdinary People, click here.
Here's a look back at our 2017 winners.
June: Justin Killion
Justin Killion will tell you he isn't a hero, but after fighting off a pit bull that nearly killed Kylie Welch, and then tending to her wounds until medical personnel arrived, sounds pretty extraordinary to us.
According to officials at the scene, Welsh would have surely died from her wounds if not for Killion's selfless heroics.
July: Mike Rumble
For Mike Rumble, the serenity of a late October evening was destroyed by a crash he heard, and probably felt, from inside his home. He immediately sensed it was bad.
An SUV and a car had collided on a hazardous curve, and the car was burning. A young woman was inside, battered, bleeding, lapsing into and out of consciousness and scared unlike any time in her life.
Rumble went through five extinguishers trying to stop the blaze, but realized he had to remove her from the car. With the help of a Cheat Lake firefighter, who had fortuitously stopped, they lifted the victim gingerly through the driver’s window. A few moments later, the vehicle exploded.
Thanks to rumble, that girl and her unborn baby survived.
August: Della Faryna
When Della Faryna’s children enrolled in Ave Maria School in Bentleyville 32 years ago, she jumped into fundraising to help raise money for school-related activities and events.
It soon became evident that Faryna was a talented event planner, throwing fun and successful spaghetti dinners, bingo fundraisers, cash bashes and raffle sales. Over the past three decades, Faryna estimates she has organized or participated in hundreds of fundraisers and events.
Her selflessness and dedication to helping people is why she was chosen as an ExtraORdinary Person.
September: Dave Black
For the past three years, Dave Black has held his family together through adversity. He has chauffeured his mother-in-law to numerous treatments and therapies in Morgantown, W.Va. And for the past year, he has driven and accompanied his daughter to chemotherapy treatments at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh, and to UPMC Shadyside for platelets, blood transfusions and four- to seven-day admissions for another type of chemo. She also receives spinal chemotherapy.
For his selfless service to family, Dave Black is the Observer-Reporter’s ExtraORdinary person of the month.
October: Billie Morris
55 years ago, Billie Morris started Washington Ambulance & Chair Service, anf what began as a way to feed her kids became an obsession.
“It has become an obsession to do the best we can and to be innovative in care,” said Morris, 74. “When I started, the emergency ambulance services basically were nothing more than a stretcher and a vehicle, and you threw the patient in the back seat and tried to get to the hospital as quickly as possible. It’s evolved to be quite sophisticated and life-saving."
Because of her hard-work and dedication to the field of emergency medical services, Morris was chosen as the October ExtraORdinary person.
November: Debbie Hampson
Lexis Zeiler was 7 1/2 when she arrived in Greene County, accompanied by little more than a Spanish vocabulary, her birth name and her adoptive parents. A few months after arriving on the outskirts of Waynesburg, an uncertain Lexis met a pivotal figure in her development. She was preparing for public school in a new nation when her mom introduced her to Debbie Hampson, an English as a second language instructor.
“Mrs. Hampson went above and beyond to make me feel loved and cared for as a student. She gave me the ability to be self-motivated, and I feel very comfortable with English now,” said Zeiler.
Today, Zeiler is an A/B student with Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School who speaks eloquently, and speaks only praises of the teacher she nominated to be – and who was selected as – the Observer-Reporter’s Extraordinary People person for November.
December: Pam Slomiany
Our December ExtraORdinary Person was Pam Slomiany, 54, of Peters Township. Slomiany has been employed by Big Brothers Big Sisters for seven years, working in local communities and schools to pair adult mentors with children and teens. In March 2015, she decided to become a big sister to Jessica Linn. Her work with the organization and her relationship with Jessica are why colleague Brandi Smith decided to nominate her for the Extraordinary People award.