Calloway To Receive American Red Cross Certificate Of Merit For Saving Drowning Victim

April 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm

The Upstate Region of the American Red Cross will present Jennifer Calloway with its highest award, the Certificate of Merit, on Thursday, April 21 at 10:00 a.m. in the G.B. Hodge Center on the University of South Carolina Upstate campus for her efforts in saving a young boy from drowning.

The American Red Cross Certificate of Merit bears the signature of the President of the United States, who is the organization’s honorary chairman, and is the highest award given to an individual who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge in an American Red Cross and Safety Services course. Such actions exemplify the highest degree of concern of one human being for another who is in distress. Thursday’s presentation will mark the 91st time the Certificate of Merit has been awarded in the Upstate region since 1982.

As the head volleyball coach at the University of South Carolina Upstate, Jennifer Calloway is accustomed to calling the shots from the sidelines. But on a hot summer day last year, Jennifer took center court as she pulled the lifeless body of 6-year-old Thomas Gregory from a Spartanburg neighborhood swimming pool.

Jennifer yelled for someone to call 911 and immediately began performing CPR, a mandatory training that all USC Upstate coaches are required to renew each year.

“It was all so terrifying,” recalled Jennifer, who had just arrived at the pool with her children when other swimmers noticed that Thomas was not resurfacing. “Thomas was so pale and his lips had already turned blue. Thank God he responded to the CPR.”

Thomas responded to Jennifer’s quick actions and was taken by ambulance to a hospital where he received treatment before being released eight hours later.

The fact that Thomas walked away from the incident a healthy young boy means he beat the odds. Unfortunately others who have similar experience often don’t have happy endings as drowning is the second-leading cause of death among young children, second only to automobile accidents, and is the number one cause in 18 states. Twenty-six percent of those deaths are from drowning. Four thousand die every year. Twelve thousand more are left with brain damage.

“I had never performed CPR on a person before that day but I am so thankful that I had the training and that

God put me where He did that day,” said Jennifer. “It was a very frightening experience and certainly could have ended very differently. I am thankful for having the CPR training and now can recognize the priceless value it adds for others in the community being trained too.”

Linda Conrad, who recently retired from the Upstate American Red Cross after 31 years, read about Jennifer and Thomas’ experience in the newspaper and made contact with them to learn more.

“This story just illustrates the far-reaching effects of learning CPR,” said Conrad. “USC Upstate requires all of its coaches to be trained in CPR as a way of protecting their student-athletes. But, Jennifer was out in the community when she put her CPR training to use. She saved the life of someone she never knew she would need to save. CPR training stays with you whenever you may be.”

USC Upstate coaches are trained in first-aid and also regularly take refresher courses. Jennifer is thankful for the


Jennifer Calloway is finishing her 16th season at the helm of the USC Upstate volleyball team.  As head coach of the

program, she lifted the Spartans to unprecedented heights in the NCAA Division II era and helped lead the transition into NCAA Division I membership.

Jennifer has won more than 275 matches in her 16 years at Upstate, winning 20 or more matches in eight s

easons and posting 19 wins in another two. She led the Spartans to their only two NCAA Tournament appearances, earning berths in the Division II Tournament in 2000 and 2001. She was named the Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2003. She has coached two conference player of the year selections, three freshman of the year honorees, two CoSIDA Academic All-District selections and 19 all-conference players in her time at USC Upstate.

A 1995 graduate of USC Upstate, she finished her playing career on the Spartanburg campus, leading the 1994 volleyball team to its best record ever at 38-4. The team’s setter, she helped engineered the Spartans

to a top 25 national ranking, the first time a Peach Belt school had ever received a top 25 national ranking.

A native of Aviston, Ill., Jennifer and her husband, Brad, are the proud parents of two sons, Joel and Nathan, and one daughter, Jenna.

For more information, contact Linda Conrad at (864) 380-2502 or Jennifer Calloway at (864) 503-5161.