Real Heroes Nominations Now Being Accepted

Heroes may not have a big red “S” on their chest but you know a hero when you see one. A hero can be someone who bravely acts in a time of immediate need and whose actions demonstrate the potential that is in all of us.  A hero may be a family member, friend, coworker or perhaps a stranger whose good deeds you read about in the newspaper or heard about on the evening news.

As the community leader in emergency preparedness, prevention and response, the American Red Cross honors individuals whose extraordinary acts of courage and kindness make them real heroes. If someone is a hero in your eyes, the Red Cross encourages you to nominate them for the American Red Cross 9th annual Real Heroes Breakfast.


You can submit your nomination online at; fax the online form to (858) 309-1285 or mail your nomination to the following address:


American Red Cross

Attn: Real Heroes Nomination

3950 Calle Fortunada

San Diego, CA 92123


Real Heroes winners will be honored at the 9th annual Real Heroes Breakfast on October 13, 2011 aboard the USS Midway Museum from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The event will be co-hosted by honorary event chair Bill Geppert, former senior vice president and general manager of Cox Communications.

The American Red Cross is proud to honor community heroes who live out our mission every day through acts of great bravery, dedication and service to our community. Nominate your hero today!

About the American Red Cross, San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter
The American Red Cross is not a government agency and relies on the generosity of the American people to provide our programs and services. The San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter is leading the effort to make San Diego and Imperial Counties “America’s most prepared communities.” With the public’s ongoing support we provide lifesaving preparedness training; disaster relief services; 24-hour emergency services to deployed military personnel and their families; and nutritional counseling through our Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. For more information about or to support the chapter please contact (858) 309-1200 or visit

The American Red Cross REAL HEROES ALUMNI for Imperial Valley


Imperial Valley Alumni



LUCAS HESTER, Good Samaritan Boy – on the morning of his 11th birthday Lucas expected to blow out birthday candles and instead he alerted his mom and a friend to a fire racing through their El Centro mobile home.  Lucas has autism, and many times did not speak – but this morning his quick action to shout “fire!” saved everyone!

RANDY RISTER, Wilderness Rescue – as a member of Desert Wildlife Unlimited, Inc for 22 years Randy has built safe watering holes for deer and other animals so they won’t injure themselves using irrigation canals.



FIRE and RESCUE, Steve Vandewaite, Tom Stephenson, Damian Guilliani & Eric Connell – though these gentlemen were not Fire and Rescue staff out of the Imperial Valley ~ they were honored for having save one of our very own Valleyites – Rosie Lopez from the Imperial Valley College.  These gentlemen save Rosie after being trapped for almost 20 hours  in her vehicle that had gone 1,700 feet  over the side of the freeway, in the InKoPah Pass area between Imperial and San Diego County.  The ground crew rescuers unselfishly risked their own lives and personal safety for the live of the victim.  Their quick rescue and on scene treatment was such that the helicopter literally did not have to land from the time it left the pad @ Mercy Hospital to the delivery transport to Sharp Memorial.  It was an incredible rescue to see Flight Medic Steve Vandewalle lowered 190 feet from the helicopter to within 20 feet of Rosie Lopez.  The quick response and immediate life support provided to Rosie is what made this rescue a successful one!



None were submitted for the selection process on this year for Imperial Valley   =(



BRAD WILLS, Media – our weather anchor for KYMA News Channel 11 and now with the FOX affiliate in San Diego, was recognized as a hero for his proactive response to Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005.  Brad spearheaded a giving campaign in Yuma, Arizona and Imperial County which brought together all of the local Television, Radio and Print media; it also mobilized civic leaders, organizations and citizens to aid the Gulf Coast recovery efforts.  In addition to financial success, the initiative provided a much needed outlet for desert residents to assist the relief operation.  It was a very encouraging campaign that united two counties across two states that made a difference.



UNITED STATES GYPSUM, Company – USG was recognized as our community leader in corporate and family preparedness – by ensuring the safe workplace environment at their production plant is a priority.  USG is doing it’s part to help us Become America’s Most Prepared Community!


U.S. Border Patrol BOrder, Search, Trauma And Rescue Team (BORSTAR), Law Enforcement – The BORSTAR Team based in El Centro responded to more 25 incidents involving a search and/or medical rescue of indidviduals stranded in the remote desert areas of the Imperial Valley.  Also, of note were the 48 people who received medical aid and 36 of whom were found in life-threatening situations.

JOSE GARCIA, Youth  – 6th Grader Jose provided life saving assistance to a fellow student who was choking on a piece of food while eating his lunch.  Jose Garcia performed abdominal thrusts which dislodged the food.



AMANDA & MATT HAGEN, Adult – Amanda Hagen (who was 5 months pregnant at the time) and her husband Matt witnessed car headlights off in a field that as they approached turned out to be an overturned vehicle quickly sinking to the bottom of the canal.  They stopped and called 911 but immediately realized that they needed to take action to try and rescue a person that they saw was still in the driver’s side.  Temperatures were 45-50 degrees in the deep and treacherous canal.  After Amanda realized her husband Matt would need help in extricating the victim – without hesitation she dove in to assist.  They were able to pull him out past the window until paramedics arrived to assist in the extrication.  After the heroic rescue – we were happy to know that in June Amanda gave birth to a healthy baby girl and Dylan a senior at Brawley High School graduated.



WESTERN MESQUITE GOLD MINES, Company – Even though Western Mesquite Gold Mine is remotely located, the company is making strides in becoming the community’s leader in safety responsibility.  The company has taken multiple measure to ensure that their staff remains safe and is even able to respond in emergencies.  Mesquite Gold Mines has implemented CPR and First Aid certification.  They have also gone above and beyond in safety measures by becoming certified in Emergency Response.  The American Red Cross applauds Western Mesquite Gold Mines on winning the Real Heroes Award in the Company Category, and for adopting the Red Cross mission of safety and preparedness.


2009 REAL HEROES (continued)

SILVIA TORRES, Adult – A very special little girl, her neighbor’s child, now calls Silvia Torres “Mama.”  In September 2008, Silvia was at home when she heard her neighbor screaming for help.  Without considering the dangers that could be involved, Silvia rushed to her aid without a second’s hesitation.  Her haste in getting there made all the difference, the situation she was faced with took nothing less than a steel reserve.  Her neighbor’s baby had stopped breathing and the mother was at a loss for what to do.  Silvia immediately took charge and administered infant CPR while trying to calm the panicked mother.  Silvia managed to resuscitate the baby and kept the breathing and comfortable until the paramedics arrived.  Silvia’s quick response to action, her training, her courage and her gentleness saved a baby’s life and reassured a panicked mother.  Because of this act of heroism, the American Red Cross honors Ms. Silvia Torres with a Real Heroes Award in the Adult Category.



Though we did receive submissions ~ none were selected this year from Imperial Valley  =(



Who will you nominate? Will they be among our 2009 REAL HEROES that will be honored on Friday, October 13, 2011 on board the USS Midway Museum in San Diego?


[…] Real Heroes Nominations Now Being Accepted The ground crew rescuers unselfishly risked their own lives and personal safety for the live of the victim. Their quick rescue and on scene treatment was such that the helicopter literally did not have to land from the time it left the pad… Read more »