Celebrating Heroes Among Us: Fourth of July Edition
Michael Herr, fondly referred to as "Mike the Mailman" within Penn State circles, doesn't think of himself as a hero.
That's the word he'd use to describe his parents, not himself.
Still, enough people in the State College community believe his work at the Penn State post office is noble enough for the term hero. His friendly demeanor and sense of humor earned him a spot in the 3rd annual Parade of Heroes, which is part of the 4th Fest celebration.
"I don't really get why I am that but that's very nice," the ever-humble Herr says. "Whoever nominated me -- it was very nice of them to do."
The parade is used as a way to thank and recognize the heroes of central Pennsylvania. Seven individuals and groups will receive commemorative plaques and be transported in vehicles down the parade route with their names highlighted on banners.
The Alpha Fire Company, 8-year-old Abigail Boyer, the Marathoners for Medicine, Mount Nittany Medical Center nurse Shirley Karduck and the Newburg family will join Herr at the parade on July 4. At 2 p.m.
To read about the other groups and individuals who will take part in the parade, click here.
The parade will begin at the State College Municipal Building, travel across campus and end at the Dickinson School of Law.
Herr has worked in the campus Post Office at the McAllister Building since 1978. When he first got the job, he told his wife, Katie, he found a place he really liked.
He soon realized, there's no place he'd rather be than State College. In fact, he doesn't often leave the area.
"I don't have to get away because I am where I want to be," Herr says.
He wants his office to feel like home to others, too. In his 26 years, he transformed the place from your average post office to a welcome spot for students. On the walls of the office are quirky posters, photos of community members and a list of friends who bring him cookies each month, among others.
From the decorations adorning the walls to his warmhearted personality, Herr has been known to make students, especially ones from out of town, feel at home. He knows the fast pace of the day makes it difficult for student to relax. For that reason, he displays many posters with the word "relax' listed in several different languages at the office, making it a big hit among international students.
"I want kids to relax while they're in the office," Herr says. "I just thought, if they're in my line a few minutes, let's make it a light moment for them."
Like Herr, nurse Karduck of Boalsburg doesn't feel deserving of the title "hero."
"We have so many young kids who went off to war," Karduck says. "They are the true heroes. I feel like I did a good thing, but I know there are people who put their lives on the line every day."
But those who nominated Karduck feel there's no better word to describe her actions than heroic.
On April 22, Karduck was an off-duty nurse when she saw a car accident at East Park Avenue and Hospital Drive. She stopped and realized the man involved in the crash wasn't breathing. She performed CPR until medics from Mount Nittany Medical Center and Penn State arrived.
It was only six minutes before help arrived but to Karduck it felt much longer. But she knew she had to keep going to keep Bryant Musser's blood flowing because no one else at the scene knew how to perform CPR
Those six minutes before medics arrived were crucial to his health. Musser, 66, was able to recover from the accident and come home from the hospital.
"I just jumped into action and did what I've been trained to do all these years," Karduck says, adding anyone can do CPR if necessary.
After several years of diminished interest on the part of the athletes and organizers involved with Special Olympics, the Newburg family stepped in to bring up the morale of the event. Steve, Donna and Stacy Newburg organized the Village at Special Olympics to make it a carnival atmosphere for the special athletes.
The Newburgs organized activities, set up the village to run the event and then tore down all the booth and tents from the event.
For their time and dedication to the Special Olympics, the Newburgs will also be honored at the Parade of Heroes this July 4.
The Newburgs could not be reached for comment for this story.