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Unsung Heroes From Throughout New Jersey Honored As Recipients Of Russ Berrie Award For Making A Difference

(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)May 27, 2004

Top Award of $50,000 Presented to College Student Who Combines Top Grades With Service to Others

MAHWAH, N.J., May 27, 2004 – A college sophomore from Roosevelt received the top honor at the Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference awards ceremony, taking home a cash award $50,000.

Haley Rae Reimbold of Roosevelt, who is completing her sophomore year at Hamilton College, began her volunteer work while in high school, combining academic achievement with service to her community. In addition to serving meals at shelters and soup kitchens, she takes part in other events for homeless and needy families as director of HAVOC, Hamilton Action Volunteer Outreach Coalition, the student organization that helps the local community. She leads the Red Cross Campus Club and volunteers at a local day care center and tutors/mentors children in the Utica, NY area. While juggling these responsibilities, she maintains Dean’s List honors.

In her junior year of high school, she became the vice president of the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey Youth Council. During her senior year, Reimbold served as president and developed programs to teach children about disasters and implemented a plan to collect non-perishable food items for senior citizens.

In all, 19 finalists were distinguished with cash grants during the Awards Ceremony, which was held at Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah. The top three finalists, chosen by a selection committee comprising eminent New Jersey business leaders and professionals, received cash awards of $50,000, $35,000 and $25,000.

The $35,000 award was granted went to William Thomas of Rahway, who jumped into the frigid waters of the Rahway River to rescue a woman trapped by her partially submerged car. Although not a good swimmer, he swam to where the woman was struggling, freed her clothing from the vehicle, then pulled her to safety. He learned later that the accident victim was a mother of one young child and had another on the way.

A grant for $25,000 was awarded to Kathleen Pearson of Brick, who is credited with saving the life of a pregnant mother and her four year old son after a Christmas Eve automobile accident caused by a drunk driver. For more than 20 years, Pearson has worked with the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey, both as a volunteer and in her current role as director of health and safety.

Late philanthropist and businessman Russ Berrie created the award in 1997. Russ wanted to create an award specifically for unsung heroes-people who really make a difference by dedicating their lives to improving life or helping others,” said his widow, Angelica Berrie, who shared his passion for giving and now leads the Russell Berrie Foundation’s efforts to realize his philanthropic vision.

The day also featured a keynote address by Emme, the nation’s first plus size supermodel and television host who is a vocal advocate for women of all ages to be fit and healthy. Chair ambassador of the National Eating Disorders Association, she is also a national ambassador for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and an advisory board member for Dress for Success.

This year, more than 200 entries were considered by the Advisory Board of the Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference. Recipients of the 16 runner-up awards of $2,500 included:

Loretta Shea Campbell of Waldwick, a devoted and dedicated foster parent for Children’s Aid and Family Services for more than 30 years. She opened her home and heart to 120 children in need.

Stephanie M. Clark of North Brunswick, founder and CEO of My Daughter’s Keeper, Inc., helps other mothers by providing support and resources to strengthen relationships between mothers and daughters and identify realistic solutions to problems and issues they face.

Seth Dvorin of Pennington, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, died when an Iraqi bomb exploded. He saved the lives of 17 other men in his unit including his driver, whom he pushed to safety before the bomb was detonated.

Jason M. Gibis of Cape May swam through high seas and near gale force winds to rescue an incapacitated sailor. He secured a towline to the boat, then monitored the owner’s medical condition despite his own bouts of seasickness and fatigue during the four-hour tow to safe harbor.

Clare Golden of Newton is a volunteer for Healing the Children. She visits, at her own expense, impoverished nations to provide medical care to children in need.

Ed Lucas of Jersey City is a sportswriter and fundraiser. Legally blind since the age of 12, he volunteers to help raise funds and awareness for blind and physically disabled children, spending thousands of hours traveling to give speeches to service organizations.

Shimul Shimmy” Mehta of Rutherford founded a nonprofit organization,, a Web-based philanthropic organization with links to 65 health care centers to help them realize their wish lists. To date, Angelwish has helped grant more than 5,000 wishes.

Sr. Alice McCoy, O.P. of Jersey City is founder and director of the Hudson Hospice Volunteers. Working out of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, she runs a soup kitchen and a free clothing store.” Her goal is to purchase property and build a home for Hudson County’s terminally ill residents.

Sr. Barbara Moran, CSIP, Ed.D. of Teaneck is a pioneer in the field of early childhood development and education among homeless families. She is the founding director of The Nurturing Place in Jersey City, a program that attracts visitors from across the country and abroad who hope to duplicate the program in their own communities.

Hillary Roberts of Keyport is president of Project Linus NJ, Inc. Based in Monmouth County, 3,700 blanketeers” from throughout the state have created 15,000 handmade blankets, preemie sets and handcrafted toys, sending them to 120 nonprofit agencies, hospitals and homeless shelters for distribution to children suffering serious illness and trauma .

Sheila Shuford of Randolph founded the Deaf Contact Center, an organization to assist deaf and hearing-impaired people with communication, more than 20 years ago. She teaches sign language classes to hearing people and is preparing for a new career as a chaplain to serve those who are deaf in hospitals, nursing homes and state institutions for the mentally ill.

Arlene R.B. Sullivan of Towaco is an artist and executive director of Changing Images Art Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing beauty to institutional settings through collaborative artwork. Sullivan creates murals to provide cheer and hope to patients, primarily in the New Jersey/New York area but also as far away as Kosovo.

Karnig Thomasian of River Edge is a WWII veteran who survived a Japanese POW camp in Rangoon, Burma. In 1999, he became a National Service Officer (NSO) to help aging former POWs deal with the effects of severe, war-related conditions attributed to the torture, starvation and psychological brainwashing endured in prison camps.

Catherine Turner of Dumont is a registered nurse who is credited with saving the life of a man who had collapsed on her lawn and stopped breathing. She administered CPR until the arrival of paramedics, who used a defibrillator and other emergency measures to restore his vital signs.

Dr. R. Brian Ullmann of Ramsey is a prosthodontist and dentist who provides dental care to the poor and homeless. Since he founded Eva’s Village three years ago, he has recruited other dental specialists who provide emergency and long-term care. Over the past year, the clinic has handled 5,000 patient visits.

Erik Wegner of Emerson, age six, saved the life of his friend, Brian Griggs, who fell head first into a box of packing popcorn” while the two were playing in the backyard. When Griggs inhaled a piece of the packing material and it stuck in his throat, Wegner remembered learning the Heimlich maneuver and on his third attempt, dislodged the popcorn” from his playmate’s windpipe.

Russ Berrie founded Russ Berrie and Company, Inc. in 1963, and throughout the last 40 years built the company into the world’s premier gift company. Headquartered in Oakland, New Jersey, the company and its wholly-owned subsidiaries design, develop and distribute approximately 8,000 gift, home decòr, infant and juvenile products to retailers worldwide.

In addition to his business accomplishments, Mr. Berrie devoted boundless energy and resources to numerous charitable causes, earning recognition in 1998 as one of the 40 most generous Americans by Fortune Magazine.

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s public liberal arts college, serving over 5,600 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 20 states and 60 nations. The College named its center for performing and visual arts, the site of the Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference ceremony, in honor of both Mr. Berrie and his wife Angelica.


About Ramapo College

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The comprehensive college is situated among the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, is within commuting distance to New York City, was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and boasts the best on-campus housing in New Jersey per Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Applied Mathematics, Business Administration, Contemporary Instructional Design, Computer Science, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice.


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