GALLIPOLIS — In a joint effort to recognize community members who have supported the region through good will and volunteerism, the Gallipolis Daily Tribune and the American Red Cross will sponsor a breakfast ceremony beginning at 7:30 a.m. Friday, June 22, at the Gallia County Senior Center located on Ohio 160 — the fourth annual ceremony of its kind. The breakfast is being held in honor of the recently named recipients of the 2012 Everyday Hero awards. This marks the second article in a series of four to recognize the individuals to be honored.
Jim Eutsler — Fire Hero
When Jim Eutsler joined the Gallipolis Fire Department in 1977, he never would have imagined that he would be honored for his commitment to his peers and community 35 years later.
Eutsler was born in Hamden, Ohio and, for nearly 40 years, was a faithful employee of Goodyear Tire & Rubber. While serving as Safety Manager, he was inspired to volunteer at the local fire department. During his time with the Gallipolis Fire Department, Eutsler has held several different titles, including chief, safety officer, Battalion chief and operations chief — a title he holds to this day.
As Operations Chief, Eutsler oversees daily tasks and ensures that things are running smoothly throughout the department. He serves as a mentor to the younger firefighters, encouraging continued training and overall interest in community volunteerism. The department also mentors the boys participating in the Explorers, an affiliate program of the Boy Scouts of America that helps to prepare young men from the ages of 16-21 for professions in law enforcement and firefighting. At the fire department, they are able to observe and question real professionals that work in the field.
Eutsler attributes the department’s positive work environment and strong volunteer staff to the area’s close-knit community. While some organizations struggle for volunteers, he explains that Gallipolis is lucky to not be in that situation.
“There is a lot of time and training invested in being a volunteer,” he explains. “The people that are there, really want to be there.”
Though he is now 74, Eutsler has no plans of quitting any time soon.
“You never know what will happen next, but I’ll be here [volunteering] as long as my health allows me to.”
Eutsler has two children and resides in Gallia County with his wife, Harla.
Gracie Hoffman — Youth Hero
Gracie Hoffman is 13, going on 14. She will be an eighth grader at Meigs Middle School in the fall. She is an archery state champion that placed second in her division last year. Among these remarkable accomplishments, however, probably the most notable is the $4,000 she has helped raise for cancer research. Hoffman is a true hero.
After losing her grandparents to cancer, Hoffman was determined to help end the disease.
“I didn’t want anyone else to go through what I went through,” she said.
After watching her father, David, participate in Pelotonia, a bicycle ride that raises money for cancer research, she was determined to ride, as well. Pelotonia is an annual event in Columbus that attracts riders from all over the country. The August ride has routes from 25 miles to 180 miles long, and has raised approximately $3.37 million this year alone. All race expenses are covered by corporate sponsors so that every cent earned by riders goes to cancer research.
Gracie has chosen the 50-mile route that starts in downtown Columbus and ends in New Albany. The entry fee for the route is $1,250, and after mulling over her most profitable talents, she realized, “I can bake cupcakes!” Hoffman began Cupcakes for a Cure, and hasn’t looked back since.
“There were many times when that’s all she did the entire weekend. She refused to turn down an order,” says mom, Kathie Hoffman.
Since Gracie is under 18, she’s required to have a chaperone for the ride, so Kathie Hoffman has now joined the cause, as well, and with two months to go, has already exceeded her $1,250 entry fee.
“I have been touched beyond belief by what Gracie is doing,” said her mom. “I have never learned so much from one child.”
Pelotonia has become a family event for the Hoffmans. Kathie, David and Gracie all train together for the August 11 ride. While Gracie’s younger brother, Cole, is too young to ride, he will be participating next year when he turns 13. The Hoffmans’ two older daughters, Lian and Marlee, who are away at college, are their biggest fans and enthusiastically cheer from the sidelines.
Gracie Hoffman is a huge heart, in a small package. Wise beyond her years, she is an inspiration to those several years her senior, and lives the Hoffman motto: “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”
For those interested in sponsoring Gracie’s ride, log on to www.pelotonia.org and enter ID Number GH0014 into the search field.
Polly Wetherholt — Senior Hero
For years, Polly Wetherholt has been an active member of the community. She donates her time to several different organizations and events in and around the area, giving countless hours back to the town she loves so much.
Wetherholt has been dedicated to Keep Gallia Beautiful for more than 15 years — a cause that works to keep Gallipolis and Gallia County litter-free and a sparkling point of pride for fellow residents and area visitors, alike.
She is also devoted to community health care, as she is a regular volunteer at the French 500 Free Clinic. She can be found greeting and registering patients the last Thursday of every month when the clinic is open to the public.
If there is a dinner event at Grace United Methodist Church, she is probably in the kitchen working away with the rest of the crew.
When speaking of those looking for volunteer opportunities, Whetherholt says, “If you don’t know where to start, start with your church.”
It is clear upon speaking to her that she loves this community and has dedicated herself to making it a cleaner, more inspiring place to live.
Wetherholt’s affection for the area is simply put in one compelling statement when she says proudly, “We have a beautiful little town.”
Wetherholt was born in Gallia County, is a retired nurse and continues to selflessly volunteer throughout the community.
Tickets for the Everyday Heroes awards breakfast are $10 and can be purchased by contacting the American Red Cross at (740) 446-8555 or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets can also be picked up at the Gallipolis Red Cross office located at 417 Second Avenue. Those interested in attending are urged to purchase their tickets as soon as possible, as the event has sold out in past years.
Those interested in volunteering for the American Red Cross can contact the office for more information.
Editor’s note: Additional biographies of the 2012 award winners will be published through the Thursday edition of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune.