The 2022 Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards Honorees
In 2008, the valor award ceremony was renamed in honor of Josh Freeman’s long-time support of not only this event, but also his appreciation and support for the first responders throughout our community. It has only increased in importance today for members of our community to gather, honor, and thank those who do so much to keep our communities safe.
The Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce serves ten towns in the area that we call the Quiet Resorts. Each year, the Chamber reaches out to the leaders of the local police departments, volunteer fire companies, and EMS units to identify those first responders who have gone above and beyond in their service to the community.
The 2022 Joshua M. Freeman Valor Award Ceremony was held at The Den at Bear Trap Dunes in Ocean View. WGMD’s Mike Bradley Emceed the event.
All responders being honored were selected by their respective units, and we are pleased to recognize fourteen deserving first responders. From that incredible group of fourteen honorees, the Chamber’s Board of Directors, along with the various department leaders, have selected the overall winner of the Joshua M. Freeman Valor Award.
All nominees will receive a plaque, along with a gift certificate provided by Taylor Bank. The overall awardee will be recognized with an additional award.
- Officer Kevin Dorney, Frankford Police Dept
- Captain Heath Hall, Ocean View Police Dept
- Sergeant Chuck Scharp, Bethany Beach Police Dept
- Corporal Christopher Story, Fenwick Police Dept
- Corporal Anthony Valenti, Dagsboro Police Dept
- Erick Aguilera-Baruch, Frankford Volunteer Fire Co
- Daniel Hudson, Selbyville Volunteer Fire Co
- Jessica Marvel, Roxana Volunteer Fire Co
- Douglas Scott, Millville Volunteer Fire Co
- All Volunteers and Staff, Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Co
- Glenn Johnson, Millville Fire Company EMS
- Captain Max Twigg, Roxanna Volunteer Fire Co EMS
- Michael Greenstreet, Selbyville Volunteer Fire Co EMS
- Maria Berdan, Sussex County EMS
Maria Berdan of Sussex County EMS was the overall winner with an amazing story of courage, strength and dedication – here’s her story.
Sussex County EMS is proud to submit Maria Berdan for the Joshua M. Freeman Valor Award. Webster’s defines valor as strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness, personal bravery. Maria Berdan has and continues to personify this definition.
Maria was a victim of an assault while on duty in August of 2015 causing multiple spinal discs to rupture. The injuries were debilitating and prevented Maria from performing as a field provider during her treatment and recovery process. In lieu of almost guaranteed short and ultimate long-term disability, Maria’s work ethic drove her to receive approval for light duty, which allowed her to work in our administrative office.
During her time in the office Maria balanced her schedule of ongoing rehabilitation with her duties in the office. Maria quickly learned and was able to work in the county billing system with limited supervision allowing her to fill the responsibilities of an office staff clerk who was on long-term medical leave. This eliminated the need for a part-time position. Maria took the initiative to expand her duties, further reducing the workload of other office and Admin staff. One such duty was the monitoring of medic stations invoices, updating the spreadsheet, and verifying that expenses were managed as scheduled. Maria returned to full duty as a field paramedic in January of 2017.
Just 15 months later in April 2018, Maria was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer which carried with it an extremely high mortality rate. Maria was unwilling to accept the fate of her diagnosis and began the fight of her life. A double mastectomy and multiple other surgeries were performed. Maria was also selected to participate in a trial treatment that included radiation and chemotherapy which required constant travel to Baltimore. Maria’s determination and positive attitude never wavered, and the treatment plan was successful. When another opportunity of long-term disability presented itself, Maria chose to return to work full duty, without restriction in April 2019; all while still receiving cancer treatments.