Healthy Kids Heroes 2004–2024

Ellie Goldberg
5 min readFeb 27, 2022

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes. — Fred Rogers.

March 18, 2022 is the 85th anniversary of the 1937 Texas School Explosion — a gas explosion that killed more than 300 people, mostly students, in their new state-of-the-art public school where no expense had been spared except when it came to safety. Early warnings were unheeded and opportunities to save lives and prevent loss were ignored. Unfortunately, few lessons have been learned.

Since 2004, to mark the anniversary, I have written about a Healthy Kids Hero, an inspirational individual or group who demonstrates an extraordinary sense of responsibility and commitment to the safety of children and their communities.

The series is an effort to make the Texas School Explosion part of our national legacy while altering the type of decision-making that led to the 1937 tragedy, and instead, to make responsibility for precautionary action the standard for leadership and public policies.

Yes, it is painful to threaten the illusion of safety in a school or community and to talk about death and loss. The New London School Explosion survivors did not talk about their pain for more than forty years. Their stories clearly teach us that it is even more painful to live with a tragedy when opportunities to prevent loss were unseen or overlooked.

These heroes champion high standards for safety and advocate for accountability, especially for children. They broke the silence about hazards. They persisted in the face of denial and indifference about unacceptable risks from leaky gas pipelines, industrial pollution, or chemical stockpiles and other unsafe conditions or practices in labs, classrooms and storerooms.

There is a HERO in your area. It could be you.

Whistleblower for Scientific Integrity

2024 Hero Kyla Bennett, Scientist/Lawyer and Fierce Truth Teller

Hero 2020 Carl Weimer, Executive Director of the Pipeline Safety Trust

Hero 2019 Itai Vardi Investigative Journalist, Expert on Secrets and Silences

Safeguarding Children and Communities. Curt Nordgaard is one of the founders of the Massachusetts Health Professionals for Clean Energy.​

IPM is a Team Effort, Kathy Murray is the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Specialist at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

To Make Every Child Feel Safe Every Day John Obremski is the Principal of Lafayette Elementary School, Everett, MA.​

2017 Every Town Needs A Squeaky Leak Project, Audrey Schulman, Cambridge MA

2016 Todd Dresser, Courageous Visionary

2016 Rick Reibstein, Prevention First

2016 Jane Winn

Brooke Leifer

Hero 2015: A Wow Experience. Gregg Smith, Salt Lake City Schools Facility Services

2014 Foxborough Regional Charter School, Dr. Mark Logan, Executive Director, Foxborough, MA

2014 Mike Matley, Custodian,Westborough Public Library, Westborough, MA

2014 Roger Young, Roger Young and Associates, Andover, MA

2013 “A life line” Linda Stroud, Ph.D.

2013 “A force multiplier” Janet A. Hurley, MPA

2013 Inspiring Nominees Aimee Code

2013 Inspiring Nominees John Gann

2012 Heroes Harold Cowley and Disa Schulze

2011 Hero Dr. Dwight Peavey

2010 Hero Marc Tafolla

2009 Hero Ruth Breech

2009 Inspiring Nominees Al Sena and Successful EPA Chemical Cleanout Partnership

2008 Heroes Langenfeld, Kelly, Hayes, Spangler, Rouse

Hero 2008 Allyson Kelley, Rocky Mountain Col…

Hero 2008 Bruce Hayes, Facilities and School Safe…

Hero 2008 Brian Spangler, Business and Communit…

Hero 2008 Matthew Langenfeld, USEPA, Region 8, Sch…

2008 Inspiring Nominees Dr. Jack Gerlovich and Barbara Lee Foster

2007 Hero Diane Ethier, Pomfret Center CT

2006 Heroes Kathy King, Bruce Tretter, Westborough, MA

2005 Heroes James Kaufman, Christopher Erzinger, Monona Rossol

2004 IAQ Hero Joellen Lawson, Newtown, CT



Ellie Goldberg

Advocate for healthy children, safe schools and sustainable communities.