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American Red Cross celebrates local heroes

Going above and beyond to help their community, even save a life, local heroes were honored this week by the American Red Cross.

It is often said that real heroes do not wear capes. They can be your neighbor, co worker, even complete stranger. The hundreds who gathered at the Peoria Civic Center Friday night and in Bloomington Thursday morning saw evidence of that. Those people doing extraordinary things we shown how much of a hero they really are.

“Through the year we have the opportunity to meet so many people who just step up when the time calls for it. They’re trained and ready to go or they act when action is needed.” said Central Illinois American Red Cross, Regional Chief Executive Officer Lyn Hruska

“As I think about all the things they’ve done and I hear their stories over and over again It’s hard for me to stand here and not feel the urge to shed a tear.” said keynote speaker Sergeant Major Alford McMichael

The money raised at the events will help the Red Cross assist those impacted after a fire, connect military families, and keep a stable blood supply.

Those involved said it can be hard as they often are with people on the worst days of their life, but events like this remind them there is hope.

“What we almost always see is the good that comes out of it. We see the relationships that come out of disasters, we see the partnerships, we see innovation, we see new friendships that come out of the worst of circumstances just because people are so committed to helping each other.” said Hruska

This year’s recipients include:

Eric Arnold, Richard Hess, & Eric Williams: Three area men who came together unexpectedly on a Sunday morning in June when they spotted a fire at the home of a rural family between Hanna City and Farmington, IL. They rescued 26-year-old Laurel Plumer and her grandmother who requires a wheelchair to get around.

Karly Rathburn and Shayla Schielein: 10-year-old girls who met in Peoria while undergoing treatment for Leukemia. They saw firsthand the need for blood while in the hospital and decided to hold a blood drive for Red Cross to show support for other kids in situations like theirs, as well as Red Cross.

Don Yarbrough: A military veteran who has used an electric wheelchair for decades after a severe foot injury during the Vietnam War now gives to those in a similar situation. He started Veterans Helping Veterans Helping Community to refurbish and redistribute used electric wheelchairs to those in need.

Patriot Guard Riders:  A Central Illinois group of motorcycle enthusiasts who attend funerals of veterans adding and offering dignity where it is requested. They also help veterans when called to assist in home clean out when there are many military memories left behind or home care help.

Shawn Johnson and Caylee Johnson: Grandfather and Granddaughter who spread the importance of having updated and working smoke alarms in homes so no one has to lose their life due to a malfunctioning smoke alarm, showing they care about others more than themselves.

David Hammond: Hammond came to the aid of David Stokes whose heart had stopped for several minutes while exercising at a Bloomington gym last December. Stokes said he had no specific health concerns until that point and due to David Hammond’s heroic actions, David Stokes was back to his normal life less than 10 days later.

Jordan Curtis: She helped Ameren develop a driver’s education safety program throughout the State of Illinois after she had to dodge live power lines that had surrounded her car during a storm.

Harvey Dorsey: Dorsey was taking a short cut while driving to deliver newspapers last winter when he came upon a 93-year-old man who has collapsed outside in frigid temperatures. Dorsey gave the man a coat and made sure he was alert before calling for help.

Bus Driver Mark Kuhn, Coaches Steve Price and Corey Ostling, the NCWHS girl’s JV basketball team, and, posthumously, Volunteer Charlie Crabtree: A group that’s been impacted by tragedy, has triumphed over, and continues to support each other after a December 2018 school bus collision that took the life of a beloved volunteer and left others with on-going challenges to overcome.

Posthumously Corporal Daniel E. Baker: 21 year old Baker, a Tremont native, and active Marine lost his life serving his country when a F18 jet collided with a refueling plane in mid-air, over the Sea of Japan.


Kaitlin Pearson

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