Red Cross Honors Ernest Burgess as "2024 Hero"

Mar 05, 2024 at 01:31 pm by WGNS

Scroll down to watch a video on former Mayor Burgess.


On Tuesday, March 5, 2023, the Heart of Tennessee Chapter hosted its annual Heart of Tennessee Heroes Luncheon in the Student Union ballroom at MTSU. This event serves as one of the critical fundraisers for the chapter, with funds raised aiding the Red Cross in delivering essential services to the community. This luncheon took place just after President Joe Biden proclaimed March as Red Cross Month, continuing a tradition observed by every American president since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued the first national Red Cross Month proclamation in 1943, over 80 years ago.


During the luncheon, videos showcased the Heart of Tennessee Red Cross chapter's efforts in assisting neighbors impacted by an early morning EF-2 tornado that devastated neighboring Readyville on the Rutherford-Cannon county line on April 1, 2023.

The chapter bestowed the 2024 Heart of Tennessee American Red Cross Heroes Award upon former Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess. Mr. Burgess earned this recognition due to his longstanding commitment to serving the community. Local Red Cross Executive Director John Mitchell expressed his delight in honoring Mr. Burgess, highlighting his 12-year tenure as mayor and his unwavering support for the community. Mitchell stated, "We are thrilled to honor Mr. Burgess for the service he offered during his 12 years as mayor. He was a champion for the community."

Brian Robertson, the IT Director who served during Mayor Burgess's tenure, reflected on the stability Mayor Burgess brought to the community during times of uncertainty. Robertson remarked, "There were times of uncertainty, but this community was stabilized by Mayor Burgess' unwavering ethic, and a moral compass whose principles never changed regardless of the stress and difficulty of what was going on."

In a video presentation, Mayor Burgess commented...Scroll down to see the video


Former County Mayor Ernest Burgess became the twelfth individual to receive the Heart of Tennessee Red Cross Heroes Award. Previous recipients include Mark Pirtle (2023, posthumously), Bart Walker (2022), Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Holmes (2021), Joey Peay (2020), Dr. Sherry and Russ Galloway (2019), Dr. Sidney McPhee (2018), John Hood (2017), and Dr. Liz Rhea (2016).


Outstanding Volunteer - As part of Tuesday’s luncheon, the chapter celebrated their local volunteers and highlighted the Red Cross mission in the community.

Also being recognized was chapter volunteer, Mary Nichols. She retired from MTSU a few years ago and has since been deployed as a Red Cross volunteer to help victims of hurricanes and devastating wildfires.  

After joining the Heart of Tennessee Chapter of the Red Cross, she was soon volunteering in her role as Disaster Action Team (DAT) associate, then started to deploy as needed in sheltering, distribution of emergency supplies, feeding and damage assessment roles.

Nichols volunteers locally for flooding and tornado events and also in regional and national disasters for hurricanes, fire, repatriation and flooding.

Fundraiser - As Mitchell mentioned, the Heroes Luncheon is one of the chapter’s most important fundraisers of the year.

American Red Cross emergency response vehicles (ERV) are dispatched to the disaster locations, and each ERV is carefully packed with food, water and other lifesaving relief supplies that offer much-needed hope and strength.

What most people do not know, is that a fully stocked ERV costs $25,000.  A portion of the contributions help underwrite this expense.

Again, congratulations to former Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess who received the 2024 Heart of Tennessee Red Cross Heroes Award, and Mary Nichols who was named the 2024 Volunteer.



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