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Whatever Happened to…?

Sharon ZambrzyckiI often have the opportunity to interview survivors, but usually that’s the end of it. Every once in a while, however, I do hear from one of them and it’s always interesting. Back in 2002 at the Rotor & Wing Emergency Response Conference I interviewed a 55-year old grandmother, Sharon Zambrzycki, who had been one of a number of individuals rescued by a flight crew that received the Rotor & Wing Heroism Award. Details of the rescues that won the award can be found in the article “The Thin Blue Line” by Rotor & Wing editor John Persinos.

At the time, I wrote, “It was pretty obvious from our brief conversation at least part of the reason why she survived and two others who were swept away at the same time did not. She had a tremendous will to survive and she simply didn’t give up, even after the first set of rescuers failed to reach her, themselves becoming victims of the rushing water and requiring rescue by the STAR Flight crew.” Here’s her story from her point of view, “A Survivor’s Story.”

I recently received an email from Sharon with an update. She’s not only survived, but thrived and continues to help others. She writes, “I now have two grandsons, one 16 years and one 16 months. My husband and I moved to Bryan, Texas about 2 1/2 years ago, after my 13 years as director of volunteer and community services with the Texas Department of Human Services. I became the administrator for an assisted living facility. Loved it. Held on for a year. I’m now the branch manager of the Brazos Valley Branch of the American Red Cross. I started about 4 weeks before Katrina hit. Our community is a designated evacuation hub…so with Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita I stayed busy. Luckily I’d been a Red Cross volunteer for decades so I mostly knew what to do; tho’ the how was often a challenge! As I approach 60 next spring I’ve joined a gym, gonna get a personal trainer and take belly dancing once a week, and I still manage to stay in the news. “Google me” or better yet, go to www.goodsearch.com and select American Red Cross = Heart of Texas Area Chapter (my parent chapter) and we get a penny for each search.”