Hero comes to town

Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dave Sanderson is a survivor. On a bitterly cold January day in 2009, he and 155 other passengers and crew lived to tell the tale of the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

On that day, U.S. Airways flight 1549 was ditched minutes after takeoff into the frigid waters of the Hudson River. The experience changed Sanderson’s life.

Thursday, Sanderson will share his life-altering story in Washington at a “Heroes Reception” hosted by the American Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina.

Sanderson was the last passenger rescued from the slowly sinking Airbus A320, after having stayed onboard to ensure all other passengers had escaped. His encounter with the American Red Cross that day would set him on a new path.

“(Emergency personnel) called ahead and told them I was in the water,” Sanderson wrote in an email. “I was not in good shape so they had three people waiting for me at the dock.”

Waiting were two EMTs and a guy from the American Red Cross with a blanket. The emergency response by the organization made a lasting impression on Sanderson. In the three years since, he has spoken about the value of the Red Cross at more than 200 events, raising more than $7 million for the organization.

“We are extremely excited to have Dave join us and blessed that he has chosen to take time from his work and family to share his story of survival and heroism with us,” said Summer Woodard, director for the Red Cross in Greenville and Washington. “It only takes one person to change the lives of hundreds. We can all be a hero.”

“Heroes Reception” will raise funds for the local Red Cross chapter — donations will be accepted at the door — and it won’t be the last chance this week to support the organization.

Saturday night, the Greater Pamlico Area Chapter of the Red Cross will present a benefit concert at the Tar Heel Variety Theater in Chocowinity. The concert features traditional country band Eric Strickland and the B Sides, guitarist/vocalist Nicky Harris and others that Trent Tetterton, a member on the Greater Pamlico Area Chapter’s directors board, said will appeal to a wide audience.

“We’ve tried to make it a real variety show, with musicians of several genres,” said Tetterton.

This first-time fundraisers arose through the efforts of another board member approaching the Tar Heel Variety Theater with the idea.

“Not only were they interested, they were excited about the idea, and said they knew some entertainers who would be glad to play,” explained Tetterton.

Saturday’s benefit concert is free, but donations to the organization in any amount will be gratefully accepted, according to Tetterton.

To RSVP to “Heroes Reception,” a wine-and-cheese reception, call 946-4110 or email sansia.richardson@redcross.org. “Heroes Reception” will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Pamlico House, 400 E. Main St., Washington. Saturday, doors will open for the American Red Cross benefit concert at 5:30 p.m. for a 7 p.m. show at the Tarheel Variety Theater, 485 Carrow Road, Chocowinity, 252-975-2117.