The 14th annual “Heroes for Andy” benefit and scholarship dinner drew more than 500 guests to Executive Caterers at Landerhaven.
Lance Corporal Andy “Ace” Nowacki was killed by a roadside bomb in Babil Province, Iraq, in 2005. Back in Northeast Ohio, he was a policeman in the Village of Grand River. Nowacki had a passion for protecting his fellow citizens. He also believed that his role as a policeman was to educate. It seemed a natural fit for his parents Sheila and Denis Nowacki to establish a scholarship in his name to keep his memory alive.
The Andy Nowacki Foundation, Inc. has given more than 50 scholarships to future peace officers, fire fighters, EMTs and nurses over the years. This year’s scholarship recipients were Justin Eakin, John Colavecchio, Dominic Vincent, Lea Puchan and Andrew Centrackio.
In addition, the foundation honors four local heroes annually. Frankie O’Hara was honored posthumously. He died in 1969 at age 13 while rescuing a friend from a frozen lake. Hero Ron DeMeza was recognized for his work as a hospice volunteer. He has dedicated his service to conducting Veteran Recognition Ceremonies for hospice patients and their families. Deacon Joe Bourgeois founded Knight Riders, a branch of the Helping Hands and Clown Ministries of St. Paschal Baylon Church. Formed in 1999, Knight Riders now has about 100 volunteers who deliver toiletries and food to those in need. Finally, media personality Dawn Kendrick was honored for her two decades of positive and impactful reporting. STORY BY CYNTHIA SCHUSTER EAKIN/PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERIC EAKIN