Carol and Rick Russell receive Lifesaver Award

by Tom O'Connor, UNMC public relations | May 13, 2019

Image with caption: Carol and Rick Russell

Carol and Rick Russell

One of Omaha's most devoted couples -- Carol and Rick Russell -- received the annual Lifesaver Award on April 29 at the 17th Annual Spring Tribute Luncheon for the Nebraska Coalition for Lifesaving Cures (NCLC) at Happy Hollow Club.

Previous winners

  • 2019 - Rick and Carol Russell
  • 2018 - Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., and Alison Freifeld, M.D.
  • 2017 - Mary Ann "Andy" Holland
  • 2016 - Jim and Diny Landen
  • 2015 - Wally and Barbara Weitz
  • 2014 - Harold M. Maurer, M.D., and Beverly Maurer
  • 2013 - John and Lynne Boyer
  • 2012 - Fred and Eve Simon
  • 2011 - Linda and Charles Wilson, M.D., and Walter and Suzanne Scott
  • 2010 - Michael Yanney and Gail Walling Yanney, M.D.
  • 2009 - Dorothy and Stanley Truhlsen, M.D.
  • 2008 - Richard Holland
  • 2007 - James Armitage, M.D.
  • 2006 - Harold and Marian Andersen
  • 2005 - Rik Bonness and Shannon Bonness, M.D.
  • 2004 - Michael Sorrell, M.D.
  • 2003 - Charles Durham

The award is given each year by the coalition to recognize individuals who have made a difference in the world through their passionate support of medical research.

"Rick and Carol have been steadfast supporters of research and the university as a whole," said Victoria Kohout, executive director of the NCLC. "They've been with us from the very beginning and are so deserving of this honor. It was our pleasure to recognize them for their tremendous commitment."

Carol earned a master's degree in pathology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and went on to work as a medical technologist for several years in the UNMC lab of Rashid Al-Rashid, M.D., the first pediatric hematologist/oncologist in Nebraska.

She was one of the founding members of Nebraskans for Research (NFR), a grass roots support group which was formed when UNMC's fetal and stem cell research programs were under attack by research opponents. NFR merged with NCLC in 2007 and the combined organization continues under the NCLC name.

Carol's volunteerism in the community is legendary, Kohout said. Among the countless organizations she has served are the University of Nebraska President's Advisory Council, the Midlands Latino Community Development Corporation, Children's Square U.S.A., the EngAge Wellness program at the Home Instead Center for Successful Aging at UNMC, the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, the NET Foundation, and the Legislative Task Force on Human Trafficking.

In accepting the Lifesaver Award, Rick Russell acknowledged Carol's huge presence in the community.

"I feel like I'm getting the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor," he joked.

But Rick's accomplishments are plentiful as well. He is president and CEO of Millard Lumber Inc., a company founded by his father in 1948. He also has served on numerous boards including the UNMC Board of Counselors, the Peter Kiewit Foundation, the Metropolitan Omaha Builders Association, Children's Hospital & Medical Center, the Omaha branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, and the Alliance for Business Ethics.

Rik Bonness, a previous recipient of the Lifesaver Award in 2005, introduced the Russells at the luncheon.

"Research is personal to Carol and Rick's family, as it is for mine," said Bonness, an Omaha attorney who has two sons with type 1 diabetes. "Several years ago, their son, Mark, was in a serious accident. When Rick and Carol arrived at the hospital, they were told Mark might not survive. He was suffering from inner cranial swelling. But, thanks to advances in medical research to treat his condition, he did survive - and is here today to help us celebrate his parents."

He added, "Rick and Carol have provided powerful voices in our community to make lives better - and to save lives - through the miracles of medical research."

Grant Sorrell
May 21, 2019 at 11:33 AM

Congratulations Carol and Rick!

Donna Garst
May 19, 2019 at 7:31 AM

Congratulations Rick and Carol. You continue to do so much for so many people in our community. Thank you for giving so much of yourselves to help others.

Capiz Greene
May 15, 2019 at 4:35 PM

Congratulations Rick and Carol! Thanks for your contributions throughout the Omaha community... you are an inspiration for those who want to make a difference!

Rod Williamson
May 14, 2019 at 9:59 PM

Congratulations to two great people!

Aileen Warren
May 13, 2019 at 11:14 AM

This is awesome. Congrats to the both of you!

Jo Giles
May 13, 2019 at 10:45 AM

Congrats Carol and Rick!!! Our community is that much stronger thanks to your passion and dedication.

Mary Helms
May 13, 2019 at 8:57 AM

Carol & Rick, Congratulations to you both - a much deserved award for all your work in the community and for UNMC. Mary

Wayne Stuberg
May 13, 2019 at 7:47 AM

Carol & Rick, what wonderful news of your receiving the Lifesaver Award. So well deserved! Really enjoyed learning more about your journey through reading the article. Thanks again for all your time and support. Wayne Stuberg