Heroes honored for saving cheerleaders, families during storm

Posted at 11:57 PM, Aug 28, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-29 07:16:43-04

 FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (WTVR) - Tuesday night at Spotswood Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, a community honored several heroes for saving 26 adults and children inside the Cheer Fusion Allstars gym after it was struck by a fierce microburst last month. 

Some of them received honorary certificates, while other received plaques.

Heath Mullins, a parent, received both. “I haven't read them all yet because they kept on giving them to me,” said Mullins. “But, I got a few of them: one from the senator, and two from the sheriff’s office.”

Mullins along with Bill Johnson, another parent, led everyone into the only room with steel beam reinforcements at the gym, right before the microburst hit. But Mullins didn't make it to safety. The walls of the building collapsed on top of him, shattering several bones.

“I just wasn’t fast enough,” said Mullins.

Connie Allen, the owner of Cheer Fusion Allstars, was also honored for spotting the funnel cloud from a distance, and signaling everyone to run. Once, they were inside the room, she called 911.

“The sheriff's office kept saying ‘how many are there?’,” recalled Allen. “I said, ‘ I can't do it. I just don't know’, because there were so many people.”

When Sgt. Franklin Belcher arrived, he said there were live wires everywhere.

“I was thinking about the other people and that's what was going through my head,” Belcher said.

One look at the building now, not much is left. Deputies said the building owner said it could take up to 8 months to rebuild. But for Allen, that is way too long. That’s why she decided to move into another facility on Barron Road.

Allen is just so grateful no one was killed. “I think that’s the worst part [during the storm]. Not knowing if all the kids were safe,” she said.