Six individuals were honored Thursday afternoon for their willingness to go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of others.
The American Red Cross honored Dr. Lee and Meredith Berryhill, Jeff Burke, Mark Gargano, and state troopers Mark Anderson and Neil Morenz at the fourth annual Heroes of the Heartland luncheon at Willow Ridge Golf Course.
Anderson and Morenz were nominated by Lt. Kelly Hindman, Post 7 commander of the Iowa State Patrol, for their work as accident investigators.
"What they do hits me as above and beyond in not only the technical parts of their job, but also in the way they handle the families involved in the situations," said Hindman.
Anderson said it was a "great honor" to be recognized for his work.
"I'm humbled," he said. "We are saving lives whether people realize it or not."
"We like to find the real reasons behind accidents and provide closure to families," said Morenz. "We're just doing the job we're assigned to."
Gargano, security supervisor at Trinity Regional Medical Center, was honored for helping a family from out of state, who had been involved in an car accident, get food and lodging for a weekend until they could get a rental car to continue their trip home to the East Coast. Gargano called the administrator on call to get approval to help the family, and followed up with them a few days later to make sure they were able to obtain a rental car and continue their trip.
'There was no hesitation when I called the administrator on call," said Gargano. "That's why Trinity is a great organization to work for. It means a lot to be recognized, but I don't feel I did anything beyond what was the right thing to do."
Burke, a firefighter and first responder for the Barnum Fire Department, was unable to attend the event, but was recognized for putting himself in harm's way to save a patient. Burke responded to a medical call on Oct. 2 and as he was about to put the patient in the back of an ambulance, he saw the Barnum fire truck rolling toward them. Burke was able to push the patient out of the way, but was not able to move himself. He became pinned between the ambulance and fire truck, fracturing his legs and pelvis. He has recovered sufficiently so that he is now able to walk on his own with a cane.
The Berryhills were recognized for their efforts to help preserve the memories of Friendship Haven and carrying them on for generations by holding a memoir writing class twice a month.
"They have done so much, but they don't want to take the credit for what they do," said Linda Lauver, marketing and community relations representative at Friendship Haven.
Bob Kirschbaum, chapter support officer for the Greater Northwest Iowa Area of the American Red Cross, said the individuals honored are role models for the community.
"You're an inspiration to us all," said Kirschbaum. "Your acts go above and beyond. Truly, you are ordinary people doing extraordinary things."
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Iowa State Patrol troopers Mark Anderson, left, and Neil Morenz were recognized for their work as accident reconstructionists.