MASON — It was a day to honor the superlatives in a number of areas, when the Stewart-Johnson V.F.W. Post 9926 of Mason held its annual Loyalty Day Dinner.
Robert Johnson, chief of the Mason Volunteer Fire Department, was not only designated as the post’s “Firefighter of the Year,” but also won the title on the state and national level. He was presented with all three awards at the dinner, which was held at the post home on Sunday.
Wahama High School senior Wyatt Edwards was announced as the Ernest Ward Scholarship winner. Chosen as the Eva Duncan Scholarship winner was Trae Hood of Meigs High School. Both young men not only received funds to further their education, but will have their names engraved on plaques that hang in the V.F.W. post.
Isaiah Pauley was recognized as the winner of the post “Voice of Democracy” contest. The “Patriot’s Pen” award was given to Victoria VanMatre. Both are students at Wahama.
Recognized as the “Teacher of the Year” was Shayla Blackshire, who was unable to attend. She is a fourth grade teacher at New Haven Elementary School.
Steve VanMeter of the Drew-Webster American Legion Post 39 of Pomeroy, Ohio, was the guest speaker. The double lung transplant recipient spoke on the importance of organ donation.
VanMeter named several types of heroes, including soldiers, law enforcement, firefighters, and EMTs, but said organ donors are also heroes. Having his transplant in October 2016, the U.S. Marine veteran said he didn’t know the shape he was in when he sought medical treatment.
Told he only had a few weeks to live, he was placed on the transplant list and after four days, got the call to come for surgery. The operation lasted over nine hours, and VanMeter said he woke up with seven chest tubes. But after one day, he was sitting up in a chair; after two days, he was walking; and after three days, he was off oxygen for good.
“Prayer and attitude go a long way,” VanMeter advised.
He stated he wrote a letter to the family of his unknown donor, but hasn’t heard back from them. VanMeter gave several statistics regarding organ donation, including:
125,000 Americans are waiting on the transplant list nationwide;
22 people die each day waiting on a donated organ;
One donor can save up to eight lives;
A tissue donor can save up to 50 people; and,
6,000 transplants last year came from living donors.
Bob Caruthers served as the emcee at the dinner. He and Ray Varian honored Milford Mowrey, who has served as post commander for the past seven years. Mowrey is relinquishing the position to Varian. Mowrey was given a trophy, tie pin, and gold pocket watch from the post members as recognition for his service.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at [email protected]