Heroes: Casey Shanahan

Jan. 12, 2007

Coach Steve Alford’s Iowa Hawkeyes return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. date with Big Ten Conference rival Minnesota.

The game will be played before a sellout crowd of 15,500 inside Carver-Hawkeye and Casey Shanahan will be among the fans in attendance as a result of being selected as the “Hero Among Us” program after being nominated by his stepbrother, David Toma. The program is an initiative of Alford and the Iowa Hawkeyes and an effort to recognize the neighbors, co-workers and friends among us that are doing extraordinary things.

Click HERE to learn more about the program and how to nominate someone you think is doing extraordinary things for your school, your church or your community.

January 13, 2007

Nominator: David Toma
Hero: Casey Shanahan

I nominate my step brother Mr. Casey Shanahan. He is a father of four kids who has had to work night jobs to support his family. He has all these years taken care of his and my mother (with never a complaint) by having her move in with his family (consider this as in-home hospice care) and God Bless him for doing all this because I can not help – he is my Hero!

December 30, 2006

Nominator: Doug Yanecek
Hero: Drew Yanecek

My son Drew Yanecek has somewhat been forced into the position of Hero Among Us. He was injured in a Metro Youth Football (MYFA) game in September, in which he tore his ACL. Drew is 10 years old and has enjoyed playing all the competitive sports he could play from soccer, football, baseball and his favorite basketball. Due to his age and extent of his injury, the surgery will have to wait until the growth plates in his leg quit growing, approximately age of 13 or 14. This means he will not be able to compete in his favorite activities until 8th or 9th grade.<>

Our family was worried that his would cause him to be very angry and upset, instead he has used this to help with all of his teammates through education of this type of injury and support and encouragement in the sports he loves so much. His dream like a lot of kids his age is to be a professional athlete in basketball, football, or baseball. Drew has taken his energy and applied it positively in his physical therapy and support of his sister who is playing the sport he loves, basketball. He has handled his injury better than most adults that is why I think my son is a hero among us.

December 23, 2006
Iowa-Texas Southern

Nominator: Kathy Johnson
Hero: Alex Johnson

I’d like to nominate my son Alex as a “Hero Among Us.” In the summer of 2005 (July), he pulled an adult from the bottom of a pool. This man was drowning and blue when he pulled him up. Other adults gave him mouth to mouth and saved his life. The drowning man was a father to a classmate of my sons. He was 11 years old when he did this. He didn’t realize at the time what he did but has since thought more about it. I’d like to nominate him because he has never been recognized for his saving of a life.

December 20, 2006
Iowa-Georgia State

Nominator: Kraig Kuhlers
Hero: LeRoy and Virginia Kulhers

These are my parents. Of course they are my heroes for all they have done for me over the years but I want to nominate them for what they do for others. My parents travel around Northern Iowa and once or twice a week will perform at nursing homes in towns such as Bancroft, Titonka, etc. They don’t get paid. My mom plays the accordion and my dad sings. They take requests from the residents. It is truly amazing the power of music as you watch people who may be non-responsive to other types of communication light up or get tears in their eyes when they hear a song from their youth.

It’s a great thing that they give, it’s their time. My dad’s not a singer but that doesn’t stop them. I’m very proud of both of them.

December 8, 2006
Iowa-Iowa State

Nominator: Dave Boekholder
Hero: Miriam Eick

In the day and age of everyone for themselves, Miriam Eick is definitely old school, and reaches out to help others in need.

Miriam has a heart of gold and is the “go to person” in Dyersville whenever there is an emergency. She takes it upon herself to gather donations of clothing, toys, dishes, bedding, etc., really anything to supply a home in the event of an emergency or a time of crises like job loss, or an unexpected event like death that leaves a family in true hardship.

Miriam is tenacious when it comes to getting donations from business and individuals every year to ensure that those with nothing will have something to make their holidays brighter. Miriam organizes a drive every year that brings in tens of thousands of dollars in donations of clothes, toys, food, etc. to donate to the less fortunate. Most of the year it is tough to get into her garage or basement because of the work she does to secure donations to ensure that everyone will have someone to reach out to the in time of need.

She also makes sure that the students in the area are taught the gift of helping others and welcomes their help with the various drives they do to assist her. She will also have the student’s assist her in creating care packages to be distributed so they can see the fruits of their labor pay of and learn that importance of helping those less fortunate.

Without Miriam many in the Dyersville and the surrounding areas would not have benefited from the gift of helping others. I am proud to count Miriam Eick as my friend!

December 5, 2006
Iowa-Northern Iowa

Nominator: Darren Rausch
Hero: Zina Gordon

I would like to nominate my mother-in-law, Zina Gordon, to the “Heroes Among Us” program. I feel Zina is worthy of this distinction due to her tireless effort and dedication to her community in spite of her multiple medical challenges. Please allow me a few moments to explain.

Zina has been a diabetic for over 27 years. As a result, she has battled vision problems for over a decade; she hasn’t driven in over eight years. Additionally, Zina was diagnosed with kidney failure in 1999 – another diabetes related complication. With the love and support of her family, Zina chose to fight the kidney failure and underwent peritoneal dialysis three times per week at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids. After a year of dialysis, Zina underwent a successful kidney transplantation, the organ donated by her son. The surgery went well and she was released in time for the Gordon family Thanksgiving one week later! She continues he various anti-rejection medications daily, and monthly blood test to monitor her medication levels; her annual check-ups have been positive. Through her medical ordeals, Zina has faced them all with a smile and rugged perseverance.

Many people in Zina’s situation may choose to sit back and do nothing – but that’s not her style. Zina is active in multiple groups and events within her hometown of Belle Plaine, including secretary )with her husband) of the Belle Plain Historical Society and also routinely volunteers to work at the recently dedicated Belle Plaine Historical Museum. She has been an active member in planning for the annual Jumbo Well Days and the Civil War Days, and also volunteers at the Belle Plaine Nursing and Rehabilitation Center through RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program). Tirelessly thinking of others within her community, Zina donates her personal collection of large-print books to the Belle Plaine Library for the reading enjoyment of others.

In addition to her volunteer role within the community, Zina makes time for the needs of family and friends. She is always available to help out in any way she can. Since 2001 she has enjoyed the addition of two grandsons to her family, and is preparing to welcome another grandchild in January 2007.

When faced with multiple medical issues and challenges, Zina Gordon has faced every one. Despite her challenges – inability to drive, compromised immune system, and diabetes – Zina is more active than the rest of us. I continually marvel at her dedication and commitment to family, friends and community. Zina Gordon is a true hero among us.

December 2, 2006
Iowa-TBD, Hawkeye Challenge

Nominator: Emily Cornish
Hero: Jake “Jerry” Syfert

My father, Jake Syfert is a hero among us. Born and raised in Keosauqua, IA he is an outstanding citizen in his community and represents the true meaning of being a community volunteer. He was a member of the volunteer fire department for 25 year. Now he serves the Lions Club, Rotary, and City Council in a volunteer capacity. Whether RAGBRAI is coming through town or a neighbor needs help re-roofing their house my father always pitches in to help. He often leaves the house by 6 a.m. on the weekends in order to get all of his tasks completed – and he’s not retired! I admire his work ethic and devotion to his home town. If all citizens would contribute to their community in this way the world would be a much better place.

December 1, 2006
Iowa-Texas-Pan American

Nominator: Tracy Tvedte
Hero: Benjamin Tvedte

I am very proud of the man I call my son…Benjamin Tvedte is my son. He grew up in Iowa City and graduated from West High School in 2000. At West he participated in football, basketball, and soccer. Math was his favorite class in school. Ben was a very sociable person and made friends easily. He has always been a Hawkeye fan!

After graduation Ben joined the Army. He traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky for basic training. The letters he sent home during the training told of his inner struggle with being lonely, his thoughts of home, and the rigors of the physical training. He always seemed upbeat and looked forward to finishing and moving on.

After basic training he was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He excelled with his training at Fort Sill and was soon promoted to Sergeant. Shortly afterward, his company was deployed to Iraq, where they were stationed at a town called Balad. The Army called it Camp Anaconda. Security was very tight and my only contact was through e-mails every few days.

Ben was given the job of running a 50-caliber machine gun, mounted on a Hummer. He was part of a group that patrolled a section near Baghdad. For his bravery in action Ben was twice awarded the Army Commendation Medal (with Valor). At the time, I learned the true nature of my son – a man of courage, a man of honor.

Ben lives in Iowa City now. He attends the University of Iowa. He goes to school full-time and works part-time at a local eye clinic. He came home like many others – a changed man. He has dealt with post-war stress, and trying to fit back into society. He does not talk much about what happened in Iraq, just that it changed him.

Ben is not alone. Hundreds of other Iowa families sent their sons and daughters off to war. I do not know these soldiers, but feel for them, and the families they left behind. My son is not unique; many have put their lives on the line. Some never came home. Ben would be a little upset with me for nominating him – he does not seek attention for what he did. I would be upset with myself for not offering his story. Ben is, and always will be, my Hawkeye Hero!

I am very proud of the man I call my son. Tracy D. Tvedte