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Nancy Hall with the Fairhaven Fire Department
Jathan Fink/Townsquare Media

We asked you to submit a photo of your favorite hometown hero, and we were delighted by all the submissions we received. Now it is your turn to vote for your favorite hero!

Read the profiles below, then cast your vote for the individual you think has made the most impact here in the Southcoast. Sponsored by Wareham Crossing, Pasta House and Care Free Homes, this year’s winner will receive a $300 gift card from Wareham Crossing, a $300 gift card from Pasta House and a special hero’s lunch from the restaurant as well!

Now meet this year’s nominees:

Joshua Benoit
Sue Benoit

Joshua Benoit

Fairhaven, Mass.

My son Joshua Benoit who is a Fairhaven firefighter and paramedic is the bravest hero I have ever known.

My husband and myself had gone on vacation to Mexico and my other son, Jacob Benoit, was going to stay at our house while we were away. Well on June 6, 2013 my son Joshua (who was very close to his brother Jacob) had been called to my house by a close friend of my son Jacob’s. He called because he knew Jacob was expecting his arrival but wasn’t answering the door or doorbells or even anymore phone calls at this point.

So when Joshua arrived with key in hand he entered the house and was calling out to Jacob. He then proceeded upstairs to find his brother Jacob face first down on the floor. Doing at this point what paramedics do, Joshua worked his brother trying everything he could to bring him back and was able to get a pulse and was transported to the hospital. Jacob unfortunately had been down for too long. My son had called us in Mexico to inform us that my son, his brother, lay in the hospital dying.

On the phone, Joshua was so strong and never showed one sign of weakness in his voice as he filled us in with the details of Jacob’s status. He merely advised us to try to get home ASAP because he didn’t know how long Jacob would last.

My son Joshua is a very good paramedic and does a great job of it, that much everyone knows. But when I had asked my son as to why he wouldn’t let any of the other firefighters/paramedics work on his brother his answer was “because, at least by me working on Jake there would never be any question as to did they (fellow firefighters/paramedics) do everything I would have done to try to get him back cause I know I did” (not that they weren’t capable of doing so). After Jake’s passing, Joshua was going to return to work and said “with my luck, I’ll get a cardiac patient.” And he did, which he managed to save, thank God!

So, I think you have to be some type of strong hero to be able to work on your uncle who had a heart attack in January 2013 and passed away, then work on your own brother in June of the same year, and finally return to work as a dedicated firefighter/paramedic confronted with yet another cardiac situation. Still, he kept himself so glued together and helped other people carry on with their lives because of his strong medical skills and desires to keep helping. Joshua is a “Real Hometown Hero!”

Submitted by Sue Benoit

Above being a well known firefighter/paramedic in the town of Fairhaven who would help ANYONE at any time regardless of his job, he is a friend anyone would be proud to have!

Submitted by Chris Mitchell

David Evans
Krystal Semple

David Evans

Wareham, Mass.

I am nominating my father, David Evans. He is a paramedic for the town of Wareham and a captain for the Onset Fire Department for thirty plus years. He is a great guy, always going above and beyond for work and his family. He is always available to lend a helping hand or listening ear. I hope you choose my father/nominee. Words can not describe what an amazing person he is.

Submitted by Krystal Semple

Eric Gebo
Alyssa Garcia

Eric Gebo

Fairhaven, Mass.

Eric George Gebo is an active corporal in the Marines. He recently got back from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan, and is back stationed in California. During his deployment, he not only was shot at, but also got the news that his best friend LCPL Matthew Rodriguez (also from Fairhaven) was killed in action. As much as I think Matthew deserves the hero award, he can’t accept it. So my next nomination goes to my close friend Eric, who no matter how many times I tell him, still refuses to believe that he truly is a hero.

Submitted by Alyssa Garcia

Nicholas LeBlanc
Stephanie Paquette

Nicholas LeBlanc

New Bedford, Mass.

Nick LeBlanc is an atypical hero. It’s easy to look to those who fight fires or take care of sick animals (who are so important!!), but a hero can come in different shapes, sizes, and walks of life. A man can be a hero in the way he lives his everyday life.

Nick is a young person living in the New Bedford area who shares his talents and time with the community, because he truly believes in the opportunities and beauty the area holds. Nick loves his hometown and the people who live there.

As a manager at the Ocean Explorium, Nick is constantly working with volunteers, the general public, and other area organizations. He always has a new idea and a positive attitude to share with those he works with. He spends countless hours working with other area non-profits and schools to find ways to better New Bedford. He is constantly engaging volunteers and interns at the O.E. to improve the guest experience, make sure that they are learning something, but also just to see how they are doing as people.

Nick also devoted his time this past season to Bishop Stang High School’s Track and Field team. On top of an already busy schedule, Nick set aside time to share his love for throwing events and help his team reach some new personal bests.

He is also a member of the local arts scene as a writer and musician. Nick is a member of several music groups, such as Nick LeBlanc and the Pink Beans and Lesser Knowns. He supports his community by sharing his art and supporting those around him trying to do the same.

It’s easy to create a laundry list of someone’s achievements and compliments. It is another dilemma entirely to try to communicate how someone’s joie de vivre affects an entire downtown community.

My hometown hero has lived in New Bedford for almost his entire life and continues to serve its residents in everything he does, whether it be through his work in the non-profit community and the Ocean Explorium, sharing his talents in Track and Field and in the music community, or just by being himself: a young man who has chosen to help those around him and be an active member of the community. I cannot think of a more relevant hometown hero.

Submitted by Stephanie Paquette

Paul Lestage
Elizabeth Lestage

Paul Lestage

New Bedford, Mass.

Paul was a firefighter on the City of New Bedford Fire Department for 31 years – now retired, the secretary/treasurer emeritus for the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts, and a member of the International Association of Firefighters. He is also an elected member of the City of New Bedford’s Retirement Board.

Paul truly loves and is devoted to all of his fellow firefighters as well as all the retired City of New Bedford employees. He devotes a great deal of his retirement days assisting each and every one who calls him with their concerns: such as job-related issues, clarification of all matters, funeral arrangements, elderly issues, etc. These are only a few of the things he does for his fellow man.

He loves people, is a relentless advocate and spends many of his waking hours researching pertinent material, contacting political friends for advice, understanding and changing laws, if possible. Paul answers everyone’s numerous telephone calls on a daily basis and follows through with all of their requests and gives them constant updates. He is “My Hero!” and I am so proud of him and what he does for his fellow man.

I am in a position to be able to witness the respect and admiration bestowed on him whenever I am able to accompany him. I receive many calls and meet many people who he has helped. They never fail to tell me how much he has done for them. This is why I am nominating my husband, Paul, as the Southcoast’s 2014 Hometown Hero!

Submitted by Elizabeth Lestage

Manny Maciel
Townsquare Media

Manny Maciel

New Bedford, Mass.

Everyone knows that Manny is the first to respond to any situation where an animal is in danger or crisis. He even has volunteered to help animals in states devastated by disasters like the tornadoes in Oklahoma, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy. Anyone who loves animals has a spot in their heart for this guy because without him, a lot of us may not have the rescue pets who have become our own four-legged children.

Submitted by Anonymous

Antone Medeiros
Jean Paul Lemieux

Antone Medeiros

Fairhaven, Mass.

Antone is an all around good guy who cares about everyone.

Submitted by JeanPaul (JP) Lemieux

Ella Morrison
Gina Morrison

Ella Morrison

Middleboro, Mass.

Ella has worked hard every weekend for the past two years selling lemonade to raise money for childhood cancer research. She is very dedicated to raising awareness and funds for cancer research in honor of her friends that she has lost to cancer and for those friends that fight this disease everyday. She is eight years old and has already raised over $11 thousand for her cause. She has been invited to many events and has also been a guest speaker at local events. She can be found every Saturday at the Middleboro Farmers Market. Please recognize all of Ella’s efforts as she is very deserving of this. Thank you.

Submitted by Gina Morrison

She is just eight years old and has raised thousands of dollars for childhood cancer research. She sells lemonade at various local events and farmers markets and 100 percent of the sales is donated.

Submitted by Jamie P.

Ella is a remarkable young girl. At the age of seven, she is the founder of Ella’s Lemonade Shop ~ where all proceeds are donated to Childhood Cancer Research. Her smiling face is well known in our community!

She began selling lemonade on her front lawn to raise money for her friend Hailey who was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. She then moved the Lemonade Shop to the local farmers market and continued to raise money for Jesse Heikkila, a local boy and classmate of hers,who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Ella has also raised money for Birthday Wishes, an organization that brings birthday parties to children living in shelters and also for Tte Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk. Ella is an incredible role model within our community to her peers and to everyone she meets. Her smile is contagious and her heart is full of love.

Submitted by Jen Thomas

Gerry Payette
Monique Major

Gerry Payette

Fairhaven, Mass.

Gerry has done more for our community than anyone I’ve ever met. He has been a tireless advocate for our Veterans. He organizes the annual Veteran’s Day Parade in Fairhaven with success and it has grown every year. He also was the person who was able to get the Vietnam Memorial Wall to come to Fairhaven. This was very important to him as he himself is a Vietnam veteran.

Gerry is also active working with the Shepherds Pantry and soup kitchen. He collects goods weekly from our local grocery store and also coordinates yearly food drives with the Postal Service. Gerry is always the first person to step up when help is needed for any cause. He is a class act and first-rate human being. Please consider Gerry as a hometown hero. I can think of no one more deserving!

Submitted by Monique Major

Madyson Pimental
Jennifer Plouffe

Madyson Pimental

Fairhaven, Mass.

I am nominating 10-year-old Mady Pimental. This amazing young lady started making bracelets back in September to raise money for the Fairhaven Animal Shelter. Within one month she raised $300. But she didn’t stop there. Her ambition and caring kind heart touched those in the community. She was contacted by The Art on Center in Fairhaven and also Marvin Grain in South Dartmouth. They wanted Mady to sell her bracelets in their stores.

She had also set up a holiday drive in those two locations and brought the animals lots of goodies for the holidays. To this day she still continues to make and sell her bracelets. Every month she collects and restocks at her locations. She then gives Mr. Cripps, the animal control officer, a call to see what is needed most at the shelter.

Madyson has purchased many things with her earnings such a cat food, dog food, cat litter, bunny hay, cleaning supplies, batteries, and even the new open flag that hangs outside. To date she has raised over $700! She is young but smart, amazing and kind! The love she has for these animals brings joy and help to such an amazing community. Definitely a hometown hero!

Submitted by Jennifer Plouffe

Roberto Soares
Dianne Soares

Robert Soares

Fall River, Mass.

My husband Roberto is a retired veteran of the U.S. Marines. He grew up in the Azores and came to America at just three years old, the only boy out of four sisters. Not even knowing how to speak English, he managed to not only complete all 13 years of school but also become a U.S. citizen in order to go out to the military to fight for his country.

Roberto was in the marines for five years, was stationed all over the world including Japan, and went out on two tours to Iraq. He watched many tragedies happen in front of him and witnessed way too much, more than any human being should have to witness. Although he had signed up for another four years with the marines, that was cut short when he had head trauma and had to be hospitalized. Unfortunately, due to the injury he was unable to continue in the marines and was medically discharged.

He was very upset by this news as the Marines was his life ever since high school. He loved everything about it and didn’t know anything else outside of that. He had suffered from many headaches and had a few seizures. Roberto wanted nothing more than to go back into the marines but unfortunately that couldn’t happen. Throughout these past years since he has been out, I have seen him break down many times, reminiscing about the past and all his buddies who did not make it back home to their families.

We have gone back to Virginia to the base to see a few friends still in the service and I have never seen him so happy to show me around and talk about all of his memories. Now seven years out of the military life, he has become a wonderful husband and father to our 4-month-old son. He loves to play with kids, and volunteers his time coaching fifth graders in football. He has become my rock at times that I didn’t think it was possible to move on in life. He has become my whole life. In my eyes he is my hero, my son’s hero, and one of many heroes of this country.

Submitted by Dianne Soares

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