Friday, May 25, 2018
News Roundup

St. Joseph's Children's Hospital hands out Kids Are Heroes awards

TAMPA — They were trying to get back to shore.

Dustin Bush and his three fishing pals felt the rough water, saw the waves stretching four to six feet.

But 11 miles from land, the 22-foot fishing boat's motor failed.

The men tried to anchor. Moments later, the boat capsized.

Dustin swam 250 yards, collecting floating debris and hauling it back to his friends.

"I swam around giving the guys stuff. I gave one of the guys a marker buoy," he said. "And I just tread water."

Dustin kept himself moving, and grabbed 55-year-old Richard Green when the man fell unconscious last April.

He held his friend's head above water for an hour, until a charter boat found them.

"It was just adrenaline," Dustin explained.

Green was pronounced dead. But Dustin is credited with trying to save him, and still saving the two other men.

Ten months later, the Gulf High School teenager walked steadily to the gold-and-black decorated stage among a sea of applause. He had earned top honors in his age 13-18 category at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital's 15th annual Kids Are Heroes awards ceremony.

Situations of tragedy and adversity gave way to a night of hope and excitement Monday.

The hospital's Medical Arts Building Auditorium, filled with star-shaped balloons, a one-man circus, a DJ and dinner, hosted a joyous celebration honoring more than 100 of Tampa Bay's youngest heroes.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, who helped hospitalized children choose the night's winners, shook Dustin's hand. Dustin was handed a trophy. A medal was placed around his neck.

"A lot of the times people look up to us athletes as being their heroes," Stamkos said. "What these kids have done at such a young age — they're real heroes."

An even younger hero found his place of service in the kitchen.

Valrico's Jared Upmann didn't expect his aunt to have a heart attack and for five cousins to become permanent company. Neither did he expect his parents, just months later, to separate.

Jared knew his mom needed more help around the house.

He decided he'd pick up a savory skill and learned to cook. For nine.

After a full school day, Jared opens the refrigerator and turns on the stove.

"I get home from school around 5 (p.m.)," said Jared, the winner in the age 9-12 category. "It's done and cleaned up by 6 or 6:30."

He tries to keep his meals nutritious, his family healthy.

The Mulrennan Middle School student smiles when he dishes his favorite meal.

"Steak and mashed potatoes."

In the age 5-8 category, Connor Rakoczy was looking forward to having spring break off from school.

He had plans to set up a lemonade stand and earn some spending money. Then, he learned a nearby family's house burned to the ground.

Connor revised his business strategy and came up with something easier and ready-made.

For four days he sat outside his neighborhood gate, swapping sticks of gum for coins, or, when drivers learned of his cause, dollars.

"I can do it for the things they need," Connor said.

When it was time to go back to school, the Odessa Elementary student had raised more than $700. Excitedly, he handed the money to the family in need.

The three top winners were accompanied on stage by 110 other heroes, all with extraordinary stories to tell.

"I got to read every story," Stamkos said. "They're all amazing kids. Hopefully this is a great start for each and every one of them."

Sarah Gottlieb can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

By Joey JohnstonTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough deserved better Friday. But the offense didn't offer much, allowing the Orioles to escape with a 2-0 victory before an announced crowd of 11,354 at Tropicana Field."It ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG – In January, sure.In July, absolutely.But, now?And, once again, for someone who they hope helps in the future.The Rays made a shocking trade at a surprising time of year Friday, dealing All-Star closer Alex Colome and Tampa...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Steve Yzerman’s summer plans: Make the Lightning better

Steve Yzerman’s summer plans: Make the Lightning better

TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos said the Lightning's window for contending for a Stanley Cup championship is not closing."I think it's wide open," he said Thursday, one day after the Lightning lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to the C...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

It’s human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Updated: 2 hours ago
In federal trial, jury finds Hernando deputies’ actions justified

In federal trial, jury finds Hernando deputies’ actions justified

TAMPA — Michael Bratt told a story.He said that Hernando County sheriff’s deputies attacked him in his home early one morning eight years ago, beat him severely on his front lawn, and continued the assault as they took him to a hospital.But another s...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

The 18-year-old who was arrested this week after police said he was racing when he fatally struck a young mother pushing her stroller across Bayshore Boulevard was back in jail on Friday night.Cameron Herrin, 18, was arrested on a second count of veh...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Stanley Cup final begins Monday in the unlikeliest of places: a city new to major pro sports and suddenly the center of the hockey world, Las Vegas, whose Golden Knights could become the first first-year expansion team to win a championship.And t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Before we even get going, let me be clear about something.This is not a column making an argument about whether or not NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem.That topic has been debated repeatedly, loudly and passio...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

The Rays made a major trade Friday afternoon, sending All-Star closer Alex Colome and OF Denard Span to the Mariners.The return is two minor-leaguers, RHP Andrew Moore and RHP Tommy Romero. The Rays also sent cash to the Mariners.Span, a Tampa produc...
Updated: 4 hours ago
For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

By JOEY JOHNSTONTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For openers, the Rays will use RHP Sergio Romo, the 35-year-old career reliever, as tonight's starter against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.Romo is making his third career "sta...
Updated: 5 hours ago