Local Red Cross Announces “Real Heroes” to be Honored at 9th Annual Real Heroes Breakfast

(SAN DIEGO, September 12, 2011) – The American Red Cross San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter is pleased to honor ten local heroes at its 9th Annual Real Heroes Awards Breakfast, a community celebration that honors local individuals and organizations who have made a commitment to preparedness or made a difference through their acts of courage, compassion and leadership.


“Our community is privileged to have many heroes among us,” said Joe W. Craver, CEO of the San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross. “The Real Heroes Breakfast is our way of honoring these exceptional individuals and organizations that carry out our mission every day and inspire others to make a positive difference in their community.”


The breakfast will be held on Thursday, October 13th, at 7:30 a.m. aboard the USS Midway Museum.  This year the American Red Cross is honored to welcome keynote speaker, Rear Admiral Sean Pybus.  RADM Pybus assumed command of Naval Special Warfare Command in July 2011, where he exercises responsibility to organize, man, train, equip and deploy over 2,500 SEALs and Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen worldwide.


The following ten local heroes will be honored during the 2011 Real Heroes Breakfast:


Adult Honoree: Sandy Lehmkuhler- Sandy is the driving force behind the Warrior Foundation whose mission is to assist, honor and support our military service members who have so bravely served and sacrificed for our country. On May 27, 2011 with the help of Sandy and the Warrior Foundation, Freedom Station, a transitional housing facility designed to assist our injured military personnel as they re-enter society and civilian life, held its grand opening.


Animal Welfare Honoree: Mike Arms- Decades after being severely beaten and stabbed while trying to rescue a dying puppy, Mike Arms continues to remain true to the promise he made to dedicate his life to protecting animals everywhere.


Company Honoree: Pacific Western Bank- Each year Pacific Western Bank provides Adult CPR, automated external defibrillator (AED) and First Aid training to its employees in San Diego, Santa Fe Springs, Yucca Valley and Ventura County. Since 2006, more than 130 Pacific Western Bank employees have received lifesaving training because of Pacific Western Bank’s commitment to the health and safety of their employees.


Fire and Rescue Honoree: El Cajon Firefighter Robert Laatsch and Fire Engineer Jym Bridger- Robert and Jym launched a program to provide free helmets to kids in the city of El Cajon.


Law Enforcement Honoree: Luis Hernandez- On March 8, 2011 Officer Hernandez of Brawley saved his co-worker’s life by donating a kidney.


Media Honoree: KPBS- For more than a decade, KPBS has been providing crisis coverage in San Diego and is now helping other public broadcast stations prepare their communities for a disaster with a public awareness campaign, “Totally Unprepared”. KPBS is now working with California public stations up and down the state of California to present a multimedia presentation to educate and inform our communities.


Medical Honoree: Dr. Nick Yphantides- Dr. Nick has been credited with saving many lives by sharing his story, guidance, and personal support. Since losing over 270 pounds, Dr. Nick has written a book, and lectures all over the United States about the benefits of getting healthy and about the path he developed to do so. He formed the website Healthsteward.com to create a place for support groups from all over the globe to discuss their path to better health.


Military Honoree: Michael Carfaro- On the night of April 1, 2011, Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Carfaro, a hospital corpsman assigned to the Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton Main Operating Room, saved the life of a pedestrian lying on the road, bleeding and unconscious on Oceanside Boulevard. After Carfaro noticed the victim, he immediately took action to protect the victim from further injury by maneuvering his vehicle to provide a protective barrier and then proceeding to provide aid until paramedics arrived to the scene.


Youth Honoree: Steele Reed- On March 4, 2011 Steele Reed, 13, of Rancho Bernardo saved his best friend’s life. Steele was out with three of his friends at a local Taco Bell when he noticed one of his friends, Adrian Charbono, wasn’t participating in the conversation. After each of the boys took turns asking questions to Adrian with no verbal response Steele remembered his CPR training he received at the 2010 CPR Saturday event. Steele immediately performed the Heimlich maneuver and was able to successfully remove a small taco shell that had been stuck in his friend’s throat.


Wendell Cutting Humanitarian Honoree: Staff Sergeant Erik Sims- On the battlefield or on the home front Staff Sergeant Erik Sims is a champion for people in need. Sims is a tireless volunteer who gives his time and money to dozens of organizations here in San Diego and worldwide. While overcoming multiple brain injuries received in deployments, Staff Sergeant Sims continued volunteering and helped with family support for other marines suffering from brain injuries. In addition, with the help of his wife Amanda, he created a non-profit called The Northstar Group to provide humanitarian assistance here and abroad.


If you are interested in attending this event, please visit www.sdarc.org/realheroes or call (858) 309-1200.


Donate to your local Red Cross on behalf of one of the 2011 heroes and celebrate extraordinary individuals and organizations that have made a personal commitment to creating safer communities. Your donation will support the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross in our community, across the country and around the world.