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Van de Sande honored with O'Connell award

Mark Van de Sande displays the Dan O'Connell St. Croix EMS Outstanding Performer Award that will bear his name. The award is sponsored by the Hudson Thursday Noon Rotary Club. St. Croix EMS Chief Kim Eby, left of Van de Sande, presented the award for 2013. Also at the ceremony were, from left, Dan O'Connell's father Tom O'Connell, Dan's daughter Kaitlyn, Eby, Van de Sande, Dan's widow Jennie and son Kyle. Photo by Doug Stohlberg

Mark Van de Sande, an EMT with St. Croix EMS, has been named 2013 recipient of the Dan O'Connell Outstanding Performer Award. The honor, in memory of the late Dan O'Connell, is bestowed annually by the Hudson Thursday Noon Rotary Club to a member of the local ambulance and rescue service selected by his or her peers.

"Mark is an outstanding EMT," St. Croix EMS Chief Kim Eby said of Van de Sande in presenting the award at last Thursday's meeting of the Rotary Club. "In fact he has many of the same characteristics of Dan O'Connell. He goes above and beyond the call of duty."

Van de Sande has been involved in the local EMS service for six years and is also a volunteer firefighter.

Van de Sande thanked the Rotary Club for the award and said it was especially meaningful because the winner is determined by a vote of his peers.

"It also means a lot because I was honored to call Dan O'Connell a friend," Van de Sande said. "I'm honored to have members of Dan's family here." In the audience were Dan's widow Jennie, children Kaitlyn and Kyle and Dan's father Tom O'Connell.

Eby said St. Croix EMS responded to more than 1,800 calls last year and each year the count continues to increase.

Van de Sande's name is the 11th to be inscribed to the memorial plaque. Other recipients have included Christopher Kustrich, Jennifer Kerner, Ben Wasmund, Hans Lamkin (two-time recipient), Richard Wold, Jenelle Annacker, Glen Hartman, Josh Olson and Kim Eby.

The late Dan O'Connell was a former EMT and member of Hudson Thursday Noon Rotary Club. He died Feb. 5, 2002, along with another employee, James Ellison, in an attack while working at O'Connell Family Funeral Home in Hudson.