CBS Sunday Morning visits Hero Fund to film segment on its history and work

Linda T. Hills, Commission member and great-granddaughter of Andrew Carnegie, shares a moment with correspondent Scott Simon in the Commission’s offices during filming of a CBS Sunday Morning segment.
CBS Sunday Morning
Grace Abbs, granddaughter of the lone survivor of the 1904 Harwick mine disaster, was interviewed at the disaster memorial in Springdale, Pa.

CBS Sunday Morning, the long-running staple of the CBS television morning lineup, is featuring the Hero Fund in a segment that was scheduled to air in late November 2016. The network sent crews to Illinois and Pittsburgh to document Hero Fund activities as part of a story on the history and work of the Commission, and central to the piece is recognition of the heroes who have been honored and supported through the vision of Commission founder Andrew Carnegie.

Correspondent for the segment is National Public Radio’s Scott Simon, long-time host of Weekend Edition Saturday and acclaimed journalist, author, and guest contributor for CBS Sunday Morning. The show has an estimated six million viewers.

Filming began in late August 2016 during a three-day stretch at events in southern Illinois that included presentations of the Carnegie Medal to newly named awardees, interviews of medal recipients and the people they rescued, and a memorial event that honored past Carnegie heroes.

In September 2016, the Hero Fund hosted Simon, producer Amy Wall, and the film crew at its offices in Pittsburgh. The two-day visit and shoot included interviews with Mark Laskow, Commission chair; Walter Rutkowski, president, and Linda T. Hills, a member of the Commission who is also the great-granddaughter of Andrew and Louise Carnegie.

A location shoot followed in Springdale, Pa., at the memorial for the victims of the 1904 Harwick mine disaster, which, claiming 181 lives, remains one of the worst mining disasters in U.S. history. Rescue activity during the disaster—only one miner survived—served as impetus for Carnegie’s establishment of the Hero Fund in the months that followed. Grace Abbs of Pittsburgh, the granddaughter of the lone survivor, Adolph Gunia, was interviewed on site, giving her impressions of the tragedy, its heroes, and its impact on her family through the years.

Simon, Wall, and all others from the network involved in the filming showed great interest in the Commission’s work and said they were inspired by the accounts of heroism documented in the Hero Fund’s files. Simon “tweeted” to his 1.25 million followers of his experience, and Walls later made the effort to nominate a candidate for recognition.

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