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Hometown Heroes Honored for Lifesaving Actions

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These heroes are ordinary people willing to step up to do something to save the life of someone else

The American Red Cross of Greater Long Beach honored 18 “Hometown Heroes” March 26 at a luncheon attended by more than 100 guests, including Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia.

“The American Red Cross Hometown Heroes event is a part of longstanding tradition in Long Beach,” said Garcia, in opening the program held at The Grand Long Beach Event Center.

Each year the Red Cross honors individuals who demonstrate selfless acts of courage and humanitarian service, people whose extraordinary acts exemplify the American Red Cross mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering. Honored were men and women, who went above and beyond to help save lives by responding to extraordinary circumstances.

The Hometown Heroes Award recipients were presented with a medal and plaque for their heroic act by Margaret Arbini- Madonna, executive director, and Bill Clausen, chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Red Cross of Greater Long Beach, Rio Hondo and South Bay.

“Our heroes’ stories this year are amazing.  The theme this year seemed to be miraculous “back from the edge” saves! These heroes are ordinary people who were willing to step up, get involved, to do something to save the life of someone else”, said Arbini- Madonna. “They remind us not only all how important training can be but also how good people are!”

The event brought together American Red Cross community partners such as Long Beach Fire, the Cities of Long Beach, Cerritos and Paramount, Edison International, Tesoro Corp., Total Western Inc.,  and officials, business leaders, family and friends. Mat Kaplan, host and producer of “Planetary Radio” for the Planetary Society was emcee.

A special Corporate Hero Award was presented to Toyota Auto Body Corporation TABC, in recognition of all their ongoing support to the American Red Cross and was accepted by Jim Zehmer.

All were moved by the brave extraordinary acts of individuals who changed someone’s life.  The 18 individuals honored were:

Hillary Swanson, Rob McNulty, Gary Golding – A day at the beach turned into a rescue operation when the three honorees saw a man drowning and raced to help, at significant risk to their own lives.

Matthew Taylor – Working at a restaurant, Matthew saw a customer choking and instinctively knew what needed to be done and saved a life in the process.

Andrew Franco – A freeway crash may not be unusual in Southern California, but what is uncommon is someone, like Andrew, running to the rescue of the trapped driver and pulling her to safety.

Jimmy Chavez, Caryn Cerda, Juan Lara, Andrea Wooldridge – The four school colleagues helped save a child’s life when they saw him choking. Their training and presence of mind made a big difference for all the children involved.

Peter Bigler, Steve Atlee, Victoria Simmonds, Alan Krugel – When a friend and fellow sports enthusiast collapsed it took a team effort to save his life, an event that changed all their lives.

Dan Whittington – An athletic coach, every bit of Dan’s skill and training came into play when it came time to save one of his own students.

Judy Clarke – When a teacher/colleague failed to respond to repeated phone calls, Judy Clarke decided to do something and her persistence paid off in saving the life of her friend.

Danny Gutierrez, Roslyn De La Torre – Being late to work turned out to be a good thing when a co-worker needed Danny and Roslyn’s life saving help.

Matt Bolen – A first responder is never off duty, as Matt Bolen found out when it came time to jump into action – unaware at first that the man he helped save was a friend.

Watch a video about the event on KCAL television

Photos by Mimi Teller and Rudy Lopez