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Local Heroes Honored by American Red Cross

These heroes stand out in so many ways that make our community proud.

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is honoring local people who demonstrated acts of heroism in the community at the organization’s 13th annual Heroes Breakfast April 21 at the Sheraton Chicago, located at 301 E. Water Street, in downtown Chicago. To purchase tickets or for more information call 312.729.6178 or go to

Mayor Rahm Emanuel of the City of Chicago will be honored with the prestigious Heritage Award for his leadership and actions that enhanced the welfare of the community. Additional honorees were selected in 11 categories such as law enforcement, youth, and blood services. They were chosen by a committee of leaders in the business and civic community. 

The 2015 American Red Cross Heroes Breakfast honorees include the following group of local standouts. 

Emily Petersen, R.N., M.S., C.P.N.P., of Chicago is the Nurse Hero. A pediatric cardiac care nurse practitioner at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Emily saved the life of a teen hockey player when he suffered cardiac arrest at the rink, and he also become a patient under Emily’s care at the hospital during his recovery. 

Bradley Wilinski of Gurnee is the Youth Good Samaritan Hero. From a playground in Gurnee to the United States Capitol in Washington D.C., 15-year-old Bradley is a Youth Ambassador for Illinois who is raising awareness of the challenges kids and teens like him with Tourette syndrome face by showing people that even the most glaring flaws are beautiful. 

Paul and Sue Brenner of Evanston are the Disaster Relief Heroes. The Brenners have a combined 28 years of volunteer service to the American Red Cross where they have had boots on the ground in the aftermath of tornadoes, fires and floods both here at home and on disaster relief operations across the country. 

Mona Purdy of Chicago is the Citizenship Hero. Mona has taken giant steps through her Chicago-based nonprofit, Share Your Soles, which over the past 16 years put more than 2 million pairs of shoes on the feet of children and people in impoverished communities around the world. 

Lauri Carr of Oswego is the Blood Services Hero. Lauri organized blood drives over the past eight years, collecting 1,400 units to keep an ongoing blood supply for children, like her daughter Tia, who required regular transfusions. 

Joseph Troiani, Ph.D., of Chicago is the Military Hero. Drawing from his personal and professional experiences from more than 30 years in the United States Naval Reserve, Dr. Troiani developed a specialty track in Military Clinical Psychology within the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at Adler University in Chicago. 

Officer Thomas Gorman and Captain Edward Kulbida of the Chicago Police Department are the Law Enforcement Heroes. An arrest took a dangerous turn Oct. 7, 2014 when the suspect shot Captain Kulbida at close range, putting his life in jeopardy. The policeman survived because of the brave actions by a team of officers from the Chicago Police Department, United States Marshals Service, paramedics, and other members of a city-federal task force. 

Jason Raymond and Thomasz Oszkinis of the Chicago Fire Department are the Emergency Medical Assistance Heroes. The two paramedics from Ambulance Company 14 were dispatched Oct. 7, 2014 to the city’s South Side with reports a Chicago policeman had been shot. Commander Raymond, Paramedic Oszkinis, and several police officers selflessly formed a human shield around the injured policeman to save his life. 

Tim Crossin and Barb Dabler are the Community Impact Heroes. These two fairy godparents have shown more than 500 terminally-ill children and their families that miracles are possible through their Operation North Pole charity, which includes a fantasy trip on a holiday-themed train ride, dancing and singing with Santa and Mrs. Claus, gifts and games, and 4,000 pounds of candy inside a winter wonderland ballroom in Rosemont. 

Rich Pinskey of the Chicago Fire Department is the Firefighter Hero. A 27-year CFD veteran, Rich started the Ignite the Spirit fund after 9/11 to take care of local firefighters, which has raised and redirected more $950,000 to hundreds of CFD families over the past 12 years. 

Mario and Maria Tamayo of Cicero are the Adult Good Samaritan Heroes. The couple leapt to action during a snowstorm to help four people in a car accident on Pershing Road. 

“The American Red Cross every year honors local people for their heroic actions or good deeds,” said Fran Edwardson, Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois. “These heroes stand out in so many ways that make our community proud.” 

CBS 2 brings its prime time anchor team to host the Heroes Breakfast once again: Rob Johnson and Kate Sullivan, co-anchors of the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts. Johnson has been the emcee of the Heroes Breakfast for the past eight years. This marks the fifth year Sullivan has joined Johnson as co-emcee for the program. 

Presenting Sponsors for the Heroes Breakfast are Aon and Motorola Solutions Foundation. Host Sponsors are Anixter, BMO Harris Bank, Grosvenor Capital Management, KPMG LLP, Navistar International Corporation, and Walgreens. Hero Award Sponsors are CDW, ComEd, Fortune Brands Home & Security, Grainger, ITW, NES Rentals, Northern Trust, PwC, and USG Corporation. Ambassador Sponsors are Abbott, Allstate, Baxter International Corporation, Fresenius Kabi, IBM, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, McDonald’s Corporation, TCS, UL, and United Airlines. 

100 YEARS OF SERVING CHICAGO The American Red Cross is celebrating 100 years of serving Chicago in 2015. For the past century, the Red Cross has been there for people in the Chicago area during the moments when they needed us. Since our chapter was chartered in 1915, we have helped millions of people affected by local disasters including home fires, floods, tornadoes and seasonal emergencies. From health and safety classes, to lifesaving blood collection and support of military members, their families and veterans, the Red Cross has helped make our community safer and more prepared for what may come in the next 100 years. Join us during the 2015 Red Cross Centennial: Volunteer, Donate, Celebrate. 

SOCIAL MEDIA Our centennial web site highlights the past 100 years in Chicago featuring local people and their Red Cross stories. Share your story on our web site and use the centennial hashtag #ChicagoRedCross100 when posting to social media accounts. Receive updates on Red Cross services, programs, centennial events and activities at @ChicagoRedCross on Twitter and American Red Cross of Greater Chicago on Facebook

About the American Red Cross 

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. Follow us on Twitter @RedCross. For more information: