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Everyday Heores of the Tri-States Recognizes 16 Individuals

award recipients

National Lifesaving Awards Presented to Four People

The 10th annual Everyday Heroes of the Tri-States breakfast was held today, March 19, 2013. This event, presented along with corporate sponsors Dupaco Community Credit Union, KWWL, and Radio Dubuque stations (KAT-FM, KDTH, 97.3 The Rock, and The River) honored people for their everyday commitment to others as well as to their community.

Additional sponsors of the Everyday Heroes of the Tri-States include Crescent Electric Supply Company, Finley Hospital, TM Logistics, Kwik-Stop/Dairy Queen, Medical Associates Clinic and Health Plans, Best Western Plus, Dubuque Bank and Trust, and Hy-Vee. The American Red Cross is a United Way Agency.

Details of each honoree are below:

Good Samaritan: Kristen Agena, Cresco, IA, Shari Huber, Eldridge, IA and Kelsey (Kittleson) Millonig, St. Ansgar, IA

These three women were honored for saving the life of their Luther College softball coach, Tracy Hjelle, after she suffered a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection, although they did not know what had happened. What they knew was that she collapsed, started to seize, and then took two agonal respirations, which are labored breaths typically taken right before death. From the moment that Tracy fell, Kris, Shari, and Kelsey coordinated their efforts to save her life.

After the AED shock was administered, Tracy began taking gasping breathes and her pulse returned. Soon after paramedics arrived on the scene and Tracy was airlifted to Mayo Clinic.

Tracy and her husband, John, were present for the award. John noted, “With no symptoms or risk factors for heart problems, it's something of a miracle that the whole sequence of events happened in the presence of the Luther's Head Athletic Trainer and medically inclined teammates, within 20 paces of an AED defibrillator, with people who knew how to operate the defibrillator, and that the medical professionals from Winneshiek Medical Center were able to stabilize and transport her to a world class hospital all within one hour.” Kris, Shari, and Kelsey were nominated by Gabrielle White.

Kris, Shari, and Kelsey were also recognized with a National Red Cross Lifesaving Award and Citation and received recognition for that from the State Senate representative for Winneshiek County, Michael Breitbach.

Good Samaritan: Darryl Brink, Waukon, IA, Walker Hovey, Decorah, IA, Keith and Janet Schroeder, Waukon, IA, and Justin Hager, Waukon, IA

These five individuals were nominated for saving the lives of several members of the Egan family. Four members of the Egan family were in their car when an oncoming driver swerved into their lane and caused a head on collision. The youngest Egan and one brother were able to exit the vehicle but the father and other brother were stuck. The vehicle had started leaking fluid, which was combining with fluids from the other vehicle that was on fire. By hooking a chain to the Egan’s vehicle, they were able to pull it away, saving the lives of both trapped Egans. They provided support until emergency response personnel arrived on the scene and used the Jaws of Life to free the remaining family members. Indeed, without their good Samaritan intervention, this situation would have been even more tragic. They were nominated by Valerie Egan.

Mike Breitbach, Sherrill, IA

Mike Breitbach, owner of Breitbach’s Country Dining, has devoted his life to making the community of Balltown and the surrounding area a little better for everyone who lives or visits the area. Mike is no stranger to hard work or friendship. He truly knows the value of a helping hand and a satisfied stomach.

Whenever there is a death or tragedy in the area, Mike provides meals to those in need. He hosts numerous events in and around Balltown that promote and benefit the area, including blood drives, local antique and craft fairs, and a fireworks show that brings people from miles away. In addition, not only is he a frequent blood donor, Mike often provides a meal to people who donate blood during drives held in Balltown. Mike was nominated by Jerry Meyers.

Health Care: Sherry Kritz, from Dubuque, Iowa.

Sherry was nominated for her work with Lutheran Services in Iowa where she provides respite care for children with disabilities and their families. Since beginning to work with these children, Sherry has welcomed each individual into her life with open arms and an open heart. She has gone as far as to bring these children and their families into her home for overnight or weekend stays.

While some might put labels on these children, Sherry sees them for who they really are, children who want the love, respect, and compassion from others. She consistently goes above and beyond her job responsibilities by ensuring that her clients make it to all of their therapy appointments even offering transportation. Parents find a reliable ally in Sherry. Sherry was nominated by Brittany Hubanks.

Health Care: Joel Reicks, Dubuque, Iowa

Joel is a licensed mental health counselor with Lutheran Services in Iowa. He has also written many articles in the Telegraph Herald and Parenting: Today and Tomorrow. Joel provides individual, couple, and family counseling for youth and adults in Dubuque and Manchester, Iowa. He gives his full attention to his clients and provides for the mental and psychological needs of others. For over three years, Joel worked with one individual who seemed to be in a downward spiral and needed a lot of help getting his life in the right direction. This young man has become a productive member of society thanks to his own hard work and Joel’s caring attention. Joel was nominated by James Guentherman.

Youth Good Samaritan: Alex Wehrspann, Dubuque, Iowa

Alex always finds it in his heart to help anyone, anytime, and asks for nothing in return. He made signs for veterans and has one hanging in the Freedom Center. He helps his disabled neighbor by cleaning his house and performing other household chores. Alex also works on other people’s vehicles and even personally purchases car parts for those who cannot afford them. Alex is the type of person who is always putting others’ needs before his own and is a devoted member of his community. Currently a full-time student at Dubuque Senior High School, his future plans are to earn a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Alex was nominated by his mother, Joan Wehrspann.

Workplace Safety: Joe Hearn, Dubuque, Iowa

Joe Hearn, President/Chief Executive of Dupaco Community Credit Union, was nominated as the leader of an organization that made a significant investment in the purchase of automatic external defibrillators for each of its branches—14 AEDs in total. Dupaco did this in a way that also financially supported the Red Cross, by working through the Red Cross for their purchase.

Joe is clear that this award is the result of the decisions made by his predecessor, Bob Hoefer, and the Dupaco Board, all of whom are committed to the safety of their staff and members. By equipping and training each business location with an AED, Dupaco branches are prepared in the event of an emergency. In today’s world, where we hear more about cuts than about spending for preparedness, this is huge. Joe was nominated by Sue Olsen.

Fire and Rescue: Steve Vanden Brink, Decorah, Iowa

Steve Vanden Brink. Steve became involved with the fire department at the age of 16. Steve currently works as an Ambulance Manager at Winneshiek Medical Center. He started working there in 1991 and in 2003, moved up to the manager position. Steve also serves as the Public Information Officer for the Decorah Fire Department and is the President of Winneshiek County’s Emergency Medical Services Association.

Steve truly strives to make a difference in his community. On top of all of his other responsibilities, Steve also takes part in various emergency preparedness committees in the county. He is a great friend who cares deeply for others, helping and encouraging them as he can. Steve was nominated by Red Cross volunteer, Nancy Sacquitne.

Education: Judi Simon, Dubuque, Iowa

Judi, an educator working with iJAG (Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates), is recognized for her commitment and dedication to her students. Judi works with students who have lost interest and focus in school. Judi’s teaching methods helped students become more engaged with their learning. She includes field trips to different businesses and working with individuals in the community to further the students’ skills. Judi continues to work with her students for at least one year after graduation to help their transition into adulthood and helps students understand their own personal worth in the greater community, going above and beyond as an educator.

Judi also received a Certificate of Recognition from the desk of Senate President Pam Jochum. This certificate is issued in honor and recognition of her work with the Red Cross and her dedication and commitment to educating students and working with students from the Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates.

Good Samaritan: Scott Taylor, in memoriam, Zwingle, Iowa

Scott started donating platelets with the Red Cross back in the 70’s in Cedar Rapids. After moving to Dubuque, Scott reached out to the Dubuque center so that he could continue to donate, giving 1 to 3 products at a time without complaint. He donated religiously every month and never left the office with a story untold. Scott was not one to take recognition for his countless donations, but he was recognized for the generosity of spirit exemplified throughout his life. Scott was represented by his wife Lindy Taylor and was nominated by the American Red Cross apheresis staff who were represented by Carol Haas.

National Lifesaving Award: Brad Hennen, Dubuque, IA

In addition to the National Lifesaving Award for Kris, Kelsey, and Shari, Brad Hennen was recognized with National Lifesaving Award for the Professional Rescuer for saving the life of 5-year old Heaven Adams at the Grand Harbor Resort and Waterpark in October 2011. Thanks to Brad, Heaven is a healthy and happy little girl. Brad, a Hempstead High School Senior, was recognized in 2012 as an Everyday Hero of the Tri-States. He will attend Ellsworth Community College in the fall.

Brad also received a Certificate of Recognition from the desk of Senate President Pam Jochum.