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Red Cross Announces 'Change a Life' Contest Winners

WASHINGTON, April 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A Red Cross volunteer who wrote about helping an elderly person at a shelter following Hurricane Ike last fall is the winner of the first American Red Cross national Change a Life contest. More than 2,000 people submitted their stories to the contest, which was held during Red Cross Month in March, describing how a Red Cross experience changed their life or someone else's life.


The Grand Prize Winner, Nancy Geer, a disaster response volunteer with the Shasta Area Chapter in Redding, CA, wrote about an experience she had providing comfort to a 94-year-old shelter resident after Hurricane Ike ravaged the Texas coast. For winning the contest, Geer and a guest will travel to Washington, D.C., to see country music artist Keith Urban and his band in concert on August 20, and meet the artist backstage. While in Washington, they will tour the American Red Cross Disaster Operation Center.

In her winning submission, Geer wrote: "The woman thought she would die in a shelter because she could not remember her granddaughter's last name or where she lived. When I handed her the phone to talk to her granddaughter, I watched with tears in my eyes as a wonderful smile lit up her face."

Second Place Winner, Christine Guan, a kindergarten teacher in Texas wrote about her experience volunteering at an emergency respite center with the Red Cross immediately after September 11, 2001.

"I will never forget the image of my peers, the so-called 'indifferent youth,' wearing oversized red jackets, tirelessly serving hot food and opening rickety cots. I still remember how we forced our tears into smiles when the emergency workers returned and how one weary worker said to me, 'Thank you,'" wrote Guan, who will receive a television, DVD player and library of Red Cross preparedness, health and safety DVDs for people of all ages.

"These moving and personal stories are examples of the experiences of thousands of people who are empowered every day through their interaction with the Red Cross," said Roger Lowe, Senior Vice President of Communications. "We received compelling essays from blood donors; health and safety instructors, disaster responders, military families, volunteers and others whose lives were changed."

The three runners up are Tina Johnson, a volunteer with the Alaska Red Cross in Fairbanks; Melissa Sieminski, a volunteer with the Massachusetts Bay Area Chapter in Boston, and Benjamin Ottum, a blood recipient who lives in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin with his wife who also received blood transfusions. All three will be profiled on later this week and receive a special Red Cross t-shirt.

The backstage passes and concert tickets for the grand prize winner were donated by country music artist Keith Urban. The 52" TV and DVD player for the second-place winner were donated by Philips Healthcare.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization -- not a government agency -- and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at

SOURCE American Red Cross
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