Burn Prevention Network Presented Valley Preferred Spirit of Courage Awards In Recognition of Heroism

Burn Prevention Network Presented Valley Preferred Spirit of Courage Awards In Recognition of Heroism

Posted: October 17, 2023 | Category: Press Release

Awards were presented to 21 individuals who risked their lives to save others, a fire chief who has devoted his life to prevention, a burn survivor who gives back to the community that saved her, a beloved burn nurse who passed away suddenly, and fire, police and EMS organizations that responded to the R.M. Palmer chocolate factory explosion.

Center Valley, PA, October 17, 2023 – The Valley Preferred Spirit of Courage (VPSOC) awards, created by Burn Prevention Network (BPN), Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), and Valley Preferred, were presented tonight at DeSales University. Spirit of Courage awards, which were presented to 21 individuals, honor local heroes— including first responders and everyday citizens—who have risked their lives to save others from burn injury or death. Leah John, a burn survivor, was awarded the Walter J. Okunski Phoenix Award, recognizing her outstanding work in the burn survivor community. The Partners in Prevention Award was presented to James Misstishin, fire chief for the City of Pottsville, for his service and dedication to educating community members about fire safety and burn prevention. Two special awards also were presented – one to Jennifer Nagle, a beloved nurse who worked in the LVHN Regional Burn Center and who passed away suddenly, and one to the many fire, police and EMS organizations that responded to the explosion at the R.M. Palmer chocolate factory.

“With the help of generous donors and sponsors, Burn Prevention Network is proud to provide the Valley Preferred Spirit of Courage Awards along with burn prevention and support services,” said Corissa Rolón, CEO and executive director of BPN. “We are grateful to be able to celebrate each and every individual at this event and are privileged to share this year’s honorees’ inspirational stories.”

For 18 years, the VPSOC awards ceremony has honored heroes and burn survivors who have helped others in the burn community. As one of the most esteemed events in eastern Pennsylvania, it attracted more than 500 first responders (firefighters, EMTs, police officers), burn care providers and businesspeople from the Lehigh Valley and across the state of Pennsylvania. A duo of emcees, Mark Shepperd and Karin Mallett, hosted the event. Along with being a radio personality with 101.1 MORE-FM, Shepperd is also a firefighter with King of Prussia Volunteer Fire Company Station #47 and has been an emcee of the VPSOC awards nearly since its inception. Mallett is an anchor and reporter with WFMZ-TV69.

BPN presents the annual VPSOC award program in partnership with Valley Preferred and LVHN.  Additional sponsors this year included: Gold sponsors, Kerecis and Service Electric Cablevision; and Silver sponsors, Highmark, Jay H. Gilbert & Family, Kistler O’Brien Fire Protection, MedEvac and PA Fire Recovery Service.

Please visit https://www.burnprevention.org/events/ to meet this year’s VPSOC recipients and hear them tell their stories. Headshots of each recipient can be found here.

About Burn Prevention Network

Burn Prevention Network (BPN) is a Pennsylvania statewide 501(c) 3 nonprofit. BPN has a 35+ year history of successful program and service delivery and is one of the most respected burn nonprofits in the U.S.

Burn Prevention Network educates, supports, advocates and empowers. We teach those who are most vulnerable for risk of burns how to protect themselves and others from injury by giving them the knowledge and tools they need to be safe. We support burn survivors and their families as they continue to deal with their trauma and then empower them as they adjust to a new reality. While our reach extends throughout Pennsylvania, our focus is on those populations most at-risk for burn injuries. We offer education for new parents, children and older adults; provide support services for survivors and their families; and use traditional and social media to promote safe practices and burn reduction.

We are effective because of the nature, extent and quality of our partnerships with regional burn centers such as LVHN’s Regional Burn Center, and other health, public safety and community-based organizations, including many of our fire and first responder partners who attend the awards event. What sets us apart is the availability and quality of our programs, our longstanding relationships, our demonstrated expertise, and the commitment and dedication of our board and staff.

For more information on Burn Prevention Network programs and services, volunteer opportunities or partnership possibilities, visit burnprevention.org.