[Skip to Content]

Red Cross to honor two Upstate employees for local life-saving efforts

Red Cross to honor two Upstate employees for local life-saving efforts

Two Upstate University Hospital employees will be recognized in early December with the American Red Cross Real Hero Award for their life-saving efforts in the community.

The annual awards breakfast recognizes Central New Yorkers who put “their needs aside to help others in our community,” according to the Red Cross. 

Earlier this year, Cassandra “Sandi” Bradford, a diabetes nurse educator, identified a 90-year-old woman at a restaurant in Fayetteville as having a stroke. Bradford asked the hostess to call 911 and stayed with the woman as her symptoms worsened before the ambulance arrived. The woman had suffered a massive stroke but later recovered.

In early August of this year, Upstate nurse Katy Freeborn was at a local gym after an overnight shift at the hospital when she learned someone was in trouble. She and two other local nurses rushed to help a fellow gymgoer who had suffered a massive heart attack on a warm-up run outside of the gym. Freeborn, a career emergency room nurse, and the others performed CPR and used an automatic external defibrillator to re-start the man’s heart before an ambulance arrived. He was hospitalized for five days and later recovered. (Syracuse.com and The Post-Standard published articles on the nurses’ efforts to save the man.)

Bradford and Freeborn will be recognized for their efforts at the 20th Annual Real Heroes Breakfast on Dec. 5 at the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center at Oncenter in downtown Syracuse. More than 800 people attend the annual event, which benefits the American Red Cross of Central New York. The agency provides relief to victims of disasters and helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies in Onondaga, Cayuga, Cortland, Madison and Oswego counties.

Both women say they are honored to be recognized and never thought their actions would result in such a prestigious community award.

“To be receiving the American Red Cross Real Hero Award is a phenomenal honor,” Bradford said. “When I got word that I won I was ecstatic.

“When this event took place, my actions were made without hesitation. Help was needed and I responded. I was at the right place at the right time and I gained a lifetime friendship. I’m pleased that she reached her 91st birthday in June.”

Freeborn said she keeps in touch with the man she helped and is reminded of the gravity of what happened each time the two talk.

“It’s still kind of surreal the fact that it got so much coverage and press,” she said. “It’s kind of crazy because it’s something I do in my everyday life as a nurse.”

The award, Freeborn said, is much appreciated.

“I am truly honored and it’s definitely something I will remember for the rest of my life and the rest of my nursing career.”

Click here for more information or to purchase tickets to the Real Heroes Breakfast.


Upstate University Hospital employees Cassandra “Sandi” Bradford, (at left) a diabetes nurse educator, and Katy Freeborn, a career emergency department nurse, will each be honored Dec. 5 with the American Red Cross Real Hero Award for their life-saving efforts in Central New York.