When man had cancer, his work pals had his back

Garrie Krizman, sitting, is surrounded from left to right by owner of Independent Pump, Tony Giandonato, Tommy Romero, David Vann, Alan LaPlant and Raymond Ortega. Workers of the small company helped Krizman through his battle with cancer.



042811 Garrie Krizman

Garrie Krizman, sitting, is surrounded from left to right by owner of Independent Pump, Tony Giandonato, Tommy Romero, David Vann, Alan LaPlant and Raymond Ortega. Workers of the small company helped Krizman through his battle with cancer.

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Garrie Krizman had worked for about a year at his new job as the office manager at Independent Pump, 948 Third Ave., when he got the diagnosis.

A colonoscopy revealed stage 3A colorectal cancer. His survival rate was considered high until doctors determined it had spread to his lymph nodes. After months of chemotherapy and weeks of radiation treatments, Krizman today is cancer-free.

But it is his work family who helped him maintain his dignity throughout his battle with cancer and cemented a bond between him and his co-workers.

Independent Pump owner Tony Giandonato and the company will be honored tonight at the American Red Cross’s annual Western Heroes Celebration. Independent Pump won the award in the humanitarian hero category, one of 10 categories for heroes.

“Just the support they gave me, caring for me and watching out for me, they kept an eye on me,” Krizman said. “If I fell on the ground, they were here to pick me up.”

Being allowed to work as much as he could gave Krizman a “positive mental attitude of doing something and not hanging out and having a pity party,” he said.

Nobody complained when the thermostat was set to 80 degrees to keep Krizman warm because he always felt cold after having radiation treatments. Staff provided soft chairs for him. Krizman said his nurses were surprised to learn that he worked while having treatments.

Giandonato brushed aside assertions that the company did anything out of the ordinary for Krizman.  “We didn’t do anything anybody else didn’t do,” Giandonato said.

The regional Red Cross hero awards are determined on a nomination system. The annual dinner is the biggest fundraiser for the local Red Cross, and seating for this year’s event has filled up, said Mary K. Wendland, director of health and safety.

Other winners of the Red Cross hero awards are:

Environmental hero — Girl Scout Troop No. 10411 of Cedaredge.

Firefighter hero — Derek Trombetta.

Water rescue hero — Ken Goss.

Military hero — Kevin Wodlinger and the Honor Flight board.

Law enforcement hero — K-9 police dog Oldo.

Educator hero — Sandy Theis and Kathleen Santy.

Good Samaritan, adult hero — Samantha Swingle.

Good Samaritan, youth hero — Dillon Earl.

Red Cross life-saving heroes — Jason Sewell, Michael McGowan and Kelly Thompson.

Emergency services hero — Dr. Kirk Fry; the Gunnison County Sheriff’s Department; Gunnison Police Department; Gunnison Valley EMS; TriState CareFlight; and Denver Children’s Hospital.



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