Carolyn B. "Karen" Hartsock

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Carolyn B. "Karen" Hartsock is one of dozens of people depicted by Charlottesville artist Frances Brand as part of her "Firsts" series.

When she was 14, Hartsock was selected because she saved family members from a house fire in Castlewood, a community in Russell County, Virginia.

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On June 13, 1982, a fire broke out in the old log farmhouse her family called home. Hartsock had three younger siblings and when she heard her father yell about the fire, she rescued her sister Norma and took her down a stairway. She went back up the stairs to get her other two siblings, and wrapped up a brother with cerebral palsy in a blanket and led him downstairs. Hartsock went back up the stairs to retrieve the third sibling but got pinned down under burning debris. Her father rescued her after saving the other child

Hartsock suffered second and third degree burns over 80 percent of her body and spent many months in the burn unit at the Children's Rehabilitation Center at the UVA Medical Center. [1]

President Ronald Reagan presented a bravery medal to Hartsock in October 1983. [2] [3] [4]

Brand portrait

Carolyn Hartsock as depicted by Frances Brand


  1. Web. Profiles In Unlimited Love: Lives Enobled By Purpose, Emma Y. Post, Essay, Unlimited Love Institute, retrieved December 9, 2023.
  2. Web. Reagan lauds kids for bravery, Ira R. Allen, News Article, United Press International, October 6, 1983, retrieved December 9, 2023.
  3. Web. Remarks on Presenting the Young American Medals for Bravery, Speech, The American Presidency Project, October 6, 1983, retrieved December 9, 2023.
  4. Web. RD Talks: The little heroine of Castlewood, Podcast, Asia Reader's Digest, retrieved December 9, 2023.

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