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October 8, 2004
Quiet Heroes Get Their Due

by Rita Delfiner
Ten New Yorkers whose everyday heroism and kind hearts make the Big Apple tick were saluted last night as winners of the third annual New York Post Liberty Medals.

The hometown heroes were applauded for their can-do spirit and valor at a Gracie Mansion reception hosted by Mayor Bloomberg and Post publisher Lachlan Murdoch.

"It is an honor to host the New York Post Liberty Medals reception this evening," Bloomberg said. "The men and women being honored this evening have made important contributions to their communities through their time, talent, work and wisdom.

"They represent millions of other New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs who go out of their way to help their neighbors in their everyday lives."

Gov. Pataki, who presented the Community and Leadership medals, said, "I think it's great that The Post does this and I'm proud to be a part of it."

The mayor, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Post columnist Cindy Adams were also tapped to present the medals to winners in the 10 categories during the ceremony, which was emceed by TV talk-show host Regis Philbin.

"I'm so happy," said Maria Campanella, a Brooklyn ice-cream seller who won the Lifetime Achievement Medal for the many different ways she finds to help her neighbors.

New York's Finest Winner Maribeth Diaz, Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Maria Campanella, Young Heart Winner Arabella Uhry, Courage Award Winner Marie Frawley, Back Row L to R- New York's Bravest James Mills, Leadership Award Winner Paul Nicholls, Community Award Winner George McDonald, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Ambassador Award Winner Jim Rosenblum, Freedom Award Winner Adrian Flannelly and Educator Award Winner Steve Pouchie, pose for photographs at Gracie Mansion after the medals award ceremony Thursday October 07, 2004 in New York City."I know there are a lot of good people out there who care about other people," she said, adding that helping others "makes you feel good."

Arabella Uhry, 8, won the Young Heart Medal for volunteering with the Tumbleweed Foundation, which provides emotional support to children with terminal illnesses. "I feel excited and proud of myself and I hope I help the kids from Tumbleweed," she said.

The Post launched the Liberty Medals program in the aftermath of 9/11 to celebrate the goodness and spunk of those who epitomize the city's unsung heroes. "The Liberty Medals are an important recognition of just a few of the many great citizens of our city," Murdoch said.

"The New York Post is honored to again celebrate these heroes and thank them for making our community a better place, and for helping to make this the greatest city in the world."

Post readers submitted more than 1,000 nominations of people from all walks of life, from which a panel of distinguished New Yorkers selected the winners.

Each winner was given a Liberty Medal created for The Post by renowned graphic designer Milton Glaser, who devised the iconic "I ? NY" logo.

"Sopranos: star Lorraine Bracco said she thinks everyone nominated deserves a medal.

Community Award Winner George McDonald and his family pose for photographs with Mayor Michael Bloomberg (C) at Gracie Mansion after the medals award ceremony Thursday October 07, 2004 in New York City."I read all their stories and I think it's amazing," she said. "If I could, I'd give everyone an award." George McDonald, who won the Community Medal as founder of the Doe Fund's Ready, Willing and Able program ? which puts formerly homeless and disadvantaged people to work ? said he was "very excited about the honor.

"It really is for the courageous, formerly homeless folks who go out every day and accept personal responsibility, work hard at improving our communities and themselves at the same time," he said.

Paul Nicholls was proud to win the Leadership Medal for starting Team Continuum, a group of cancer patients, doctors and nurses who run in the New York City Marathon to raise money and draw attention to cancer patients' care.

The cancer survivor, who handed Pataki a Team Continuum sponsor form when he received his medal onstage, said the award helps him "raise awareness of how important it is to be part of a support group."

Steve Pouchie, a Latin-jazz musician and music teacher at Walton HS in The Bronx, said winning the Educator Medal is "beautiful."

"It's nice that the Liberty Medals recognize education," said the teacher, who believes that inner-city students who learn to play the piano develop the discipline that helps them improve in other subjects.

"I am a proponent for music and arts education in the city schools," he said. "It should be part of their daily routine."

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