Hunting for heroes: Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards return


Calling all heroes, humanitarians and good Samaritans.

The Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards committee wants to recognize rescues and good deeds at its annual awards ceremony.

The last awards ceremony was held Nov. 8, 2019, just before the pandemic hit. The ceremony is returning to Nazareth Hall in Grand Rapids this year, in person, on Nov. 11 at 6:30 p.m.

Over the years, 451 awards have been given.

“It’s a very heartwarming thing to see and some just bring tears to your eyes,” said Joe Ferguson, New Rochester, who is a charter member.

“It’s just been amazing over the years, some of the people who step up and do almost the impossible things,” he said. “It truly is an emotional experience.”

Ferguson recalled a woman who stood all of 5 feet, 3 inches tall who came upon an overturned vehicle that was on fire. With the help of a friend, she pulled people out of the burning wreckage.

The awards were started in 1989 by Sentinel-Tribune Editor David C. Miller and Wood County Prosecutor Betty Montgomery.

“Those two were the ones who just saw the need,” Ferguson said. “They saw a lot of things that were happening and said, you know, we should have something in this county.”

He said he was honored to join the committee.

“It was just the kind of thing that people talk about — doing good for other people, recognizing people and it just fit.

“And Dave and Betty were so passionate about it,” Ferguson said. “Those two people, whenever they set their mind to do something, it happened.”

Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn, who is chair of the committee, joined as a Perrysburg representative before he was elected sheriff in 2000.

“I always like recognizing people who go above and beyond the call of duty — people doing good for other people,” he said.

He enjoys the “minor” stories, such as a good Samaritan who saw someone fall on a sidewalk and got him to a dentist to get the chipped tooth repaired.

The committee takes pride in bringing together the honoree and the person or people they helped.

“Sometimes it’s the first time they’ve seen the other person since the event,” Wasylyshyn said. “That really is special.”

This year’s format for the awards ceremony will be a little different. The focus will be on the ceremony, with dessert being served and not a dinner.

The deadline for nominations is Sept. 15.

Send nominations to:

Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn

1960 E. Gypsy Lane Road

Bowling Green, OH 43402

[email protected]

Criteria for awards

Good Samaritan: For outstanding service to an unknown being at no risk to their own life (for example, giving CPR to a heart attack victim, aiding persons in an auto accident).

Life Risk: For risking one’s life to help another.

Beyond the Call of Duty: For a firefighter, police officer or emergency medical technician who goes beyond the call of duty in helping a person.

Service to Others: For outstanding service to another human being by providing out-of-the-ordinary assistance.

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