PEARL RIVER, NY — Plumber Roger Lippoth of Pearl River could have let the grief of losing his two teenage sons in a drowning accident overtake him. But after a year-long introspective hiatus, thinking through his life's meaning and the loss of his sons, Lippoth emerged with a new mission: to make a change in other young men's lives. Through a commitment to this mission, he let his tragic loss lead to the rehabilitation of 28 troubled young men.

For this achievement, he has been named one of 10 of America's "Hometown Heroes" in a national search conducted by Ace Hardware Corp. The "Hometown Hero" contest, which received more than 500 entries from across the country, asked people to nominate a local individual who contributes immeasurable time and energy to making a difference in the lives of others.

Named one of nine runners-up in the national contest, Lippoth was recognized at the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Southern New York Chapter, on August 8 as a hero in the community because of his contributions and commitment to making a difference in the lives' of New York/New Jersey-area boys.

"Roger is not your typical hero — his long hair and beard is a cross between Burl Ives and Santa Claus," said Helen Trimble, who nominated Lippoth. "Nonetheless, he is a remarkable man, saving 28 boys from emotional traumas and substance abuse. All have gone on to become fine pillars of the community, including policemen and business owners. He truly exemplifies the qualities of a hometown hero."

Lippoth designated the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Southern New York Chapter, as the organization to receive a $1,000 donation from Ace, the prize he received as the hero honored. Plus, he and Trimble will each receive a $500 Ace Universal Gift Certificate.

"There will always be someone in need of love," said Lippoth. "To 'fix' troubled boys who society said were incorrigible and couldn't be 'fixed,' and to watch them transform into fine young men, has become my life's greatest reward. I give because it makes me feel so fantastically wonderful to help others."

"We were overwhelmed and touched by the inspiring stories from individuals like Roger who go out of their way to make a difference for others," said Paula Erickson, consumer affairs manager at Ace Hardware.

Publication date: 09/16/2002