Cheers: To Leslie Young, Mahoning Township Fire Department deputy chief, the first woman to be chosen National Firefighter of the Year by the American Legion. She also is the first Pennsylvania resident to achieve the honor. While the award has existed for nearly 20 years in Pennsylvania, it has been presented at the national level for four years, Joseph Grassi, of the national American Legion, said Friday. Young was nominated by Danville American Legion Post 40. Reached Friday, she said knowing she was the first woman in the nation to receive the award "was almost as big of a shock as winning the award. I'm still trying to get a handle on this. It's still a little unbelievable." Young and her husband, Kevin, will travel to Houston in late August to receive the honor at the Legion's national convention. Her husband is a Mahoning Township fire company trustee. The only female fire chief in Montour County earned commendations for rescuing two children from a house fire in 2002 and for rescuing a woman during a midrise fire in 2010.
Cheers: To the Danville High School forensics team, which placed third in the Pennsylvania High School Speech League competition. Two debate squads took state championships in their events in the two-day tournament at Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove. Seniors Ryan Conrad and Ben Fait became the state champions in public forum debate for the second consecutive year, a first in the Danville team's history. Seniors Hannah Anderson, Katharine Baum and Monica Burke took first in parliamentary debate.
Cheers: To the 3,000 people who Saturday attended a Mifflinburg auction that benefits "plain children" whose parents lack health insurance. Proceeds benefit the Clinic for Special Children, Strasburg, a nonprofit medical service for Amish and Mennonite children with complex genetic disorders whose families are not insured. While Saturday's auction total was unavailable, the event in 2012 raised $200,000.
Cheers: To the Warrior Run High School softball team, which Friday won its second consecutive District 4 Class AA title by beating Loyalsock 2-0. The Defenders (20-3) qualified for the PIAA tournament and will face Holy Redeemer at Wilkes University at 6:30 p.m. today.
Cheers: To the 35 volunteers who traveled with members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Susquehanna Valley on May 25 to Hurricane Sandy-ravaged Staten Island, N.Y. The group spent 11 hours there, assisting in recovery efforts and delivering food and donated funds.
Cheers: To Cary Lutz, of Danville, who brought a taste of star power to the Valley with her appearance on "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire." OK, she came up way short of the big payout, but she easily put a good spin on her $9,000 performance, saying it was "a happy experience." And she was willing to share the happiness with a viewing party in the Washies firehall.