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Seven Central Iowa Students Win Red Cross Essay Contest

Red Cross Des Moines Essay Contest
Congratulations to our essay contest winners!

For the first time in central Iowa, the American Red Cross Heroes of the Heartland featured an essay contest for students in third through twelfth grades. Students were asked, “Who is your hero?” and were instructed to write about someone who, through an act of kindness, courage and/or unselfishness has made an impact on his or her life.

The Heroes of the Heartland essay contest winners are:

  • Cameron Sick - Woodward Granger Middle School
  • Aiden Pals - Laura Ingells Wilder, Indianola
  • Tyler Wright - Laura Ingells Wilder, Indianola
  • Gena Tague - Woodward Granger Middle School
  • Kayla Sorter - West Des Moines Valley High School
  • Na'jm Berry - Stillwell Junior High, Des Moines
  • Ali Borgmeyer - Laura Ingells Wilder, Indianola
  • Congratulations to our winners! Please enjoy their stories below.

    Name: Cameron Sick

  • Essay Title: My hero
  • Grade & Teacher: Mrs. Vandermark’s 6th grade
  • School: Woodward-Granger Middle School
  • My name is Cameron Sick, and I feel that my grandfather, David Dearinger is the greatest man to have ever lived. There are many important reasons for him to be recognized.

    He served the Des Moines community as a Police Officer from 1972-2012. He was in multiple units including the Tact Unit (SWAT) and Patrol. He was also an ‘Acting Sergeant’ for 3 years, where his main duty was river rescue. He received 3 accommodation awards for saving the lives of 3 people. He won another accommodation award on his 3rd day as a motorcycle patrol officer, he saved a suicidal woman by jumping through her glass door and knocking the gun from her hands. The bullet hit the back of her neck instead of going directly into her brain, saving her life. He also apprehended convicted murderer, Jack Losee in 1982.

    Over his tenure, he served in the Presidential motorcades where he safely guided important political figures like; Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, John McCain, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. A true honor for any American Citizen. My grandfather saved many lives, won many awards and has led my family, and our community with his selfless acts of bravery and heroism.

    Name: Aiden Pals

  • Essay Title: My Hero
  • Grade & Teacher: Ms. Mort’s 5th grade
  • School: Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary
  • My hero is definitely the lifeguard at the city pool who saved me. It was a nice day at the Indianola Pool and I was having a good time with my friends. Their names were Alex and Logan. First we were having a laugh at the shallow end where we were supposed to be. Now Logan and Alex were both about 5 feet tall, but I was only about 4 feet 5 inches tall. Logan and Alex both wanted to go to the deep end of the pool. So we went over to where the deep end of the pool was and they walked in perfectly with their heads above the water. But me, I walked in and at first was fine, but then….. the drop.

    Suddenly I heard a big loud horn and a splash in the water, and then I passed out. The next thing I knew I was being carried into an ambulance. A paramedic was saying “I know you’re tired but try and stay awake.” I was really scared, so the paramedic told the driver to leave the lights and sirens off while we rode to the hospital. Then I was carried into the hospital on a gurney and I saw my mom crying and my dad was standing there by her. When I woke up my mom was there beside me as I was laying down. She said I had a lot of water in my lungs and that I should get some rest. I felt pretty dizzy so that sounded good to me.

    The next time I woke up I was in a regular hospital room and a whole bunch of my friends were there. Pat, Gina, my mom and dad were there around me. Thanks to the lifeguard at the pool who saved me, I was ok. I’m pretty sure his name was Sam. Once I was better and out of the hospital I wrote him a letter. I said I was very grateful for him and when I think of him I think of a nice guy who saved my life. If he hadn't saved me that day I wouldn't be here now to be telling this story. I thank him very much!

    Name: Tyler Wright

  • Essay Title: My hero, my dad.
  • Grade & Teacher: Ms. Mort’s 5th grade
  • School: Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary
  • My hero is my Dad. My Dad is my hero because he raised me and took care of me. My dad is also a Marine he has served our country and helped many people. He has helped me clean help me do my homework and many more things. He makes me feel better when he comes to my football and baseball games. My dad is very kind to people he doesn't just help me he helps my mom and my sister and brother and family and he helps strangers if they need help carrying something or getting the door for someone.

    My dad is a person that I would like to be I look up to my dad. Me and my dad do lots of things together he is a great hero and a great dad. My dad has served our country for a long time he has helped so much people. My dad is a hero to lots of people he has saved people from choking. He has stopped me from falling down stairs. My dad feeds me he pays the bills he takes good care of me. He pays for me to go to school so I can be smart and get a good job someday. My dad saved me from drowning at the lake before.

    My dad has saved people from explosives in the military. My Dad takes me to fun places. We go fishing and swimming and we play tag and kick ball and lots of other stuff. We like to wrestle each other, we catch and we watch movies. My dad helped me get out of a tree when I got stuck and I was really high up in the tree. My dad is a great hero. My dad is also a great person to look up to. My dad is my hero. He is the best dad ever. My dad is awesome.

    Name: Gena Tague

  • Essay Title: Hero
  • Grade & Teacher: Mrs. Vandermark’s 6th grade
  • School: Woodward-Granger Middle School
  • My name is Gena Tague and I’m twelve years old and I go to Woodward-Granger Middle School. I would have to say my hero is my Youth Group Leader, Heidi Hall. I chose Heidi because she is a person who takes time out of her life and time away from her husband and 1 year old son to help others learn about the gospel and our heavenly father.

    Heidi also helps the church raise money to send us on mission trips to help rebuild communities in need. With that said she also has us play games that help the church, like when she took us around town to collect food for the church’s food pantry. Heidi has also organized and inspired us to help collect clothes for the homeless and send care packages to soldiers.

    Heidi recently took us down to Winter Jam 2015 (which is a Christian Rock Concert). At Winter Jam we were able to hear about people who experienced abuse and neglect and how God came to them and gave them a chance for a better life. They stated that their lives got better God knew that those people would become something more one day and that they didn't deserve that misery that they were in. If God didn't come in and saved them they would not be standing there in front of us on that heartwarming night.

    I believe that God put Heidi Hall on this earth for a reason and that is to share the love and glory of our heavenly father and that is why she is my hero. I only hope that I can be as inspiring as Heidi.

    Name: Kayla Sorter

  • Essay Title: Grandpa Joe
  • Grade & Teacher: Ms. Bootsma’s 8th grade
  • School: Stillwell Jr High
  • Many people have grandpas, heroes, pirates or clowns. I have all of them in one my Grandpa Joe. He was painting a 3 story home. He was walking backwards as he painted the gable and misjudged how far he had to go before the rooftop ended and walked off the rooftop and fell onto the railing of the deck below. He had an open fracture of his foot.

    Basically he crushed his ankle bone and they had to reconstruct it. He also broke his wrist. The wrist healed and the ankle was healing fine and then all of a sudden he started running a high fever and got an ulcer on the side of his foot. He had a bad infection and they put him on some strong antibiotics to try and get rid of the infection but it just kept coming back. The infection was in his bone and they call it osteomyelitis. His body had rejected the metal they had used to reconstruct the bone.

    He had 25 procedures trying to clean the ulcer. They also sent him to a special surgeon for bone and vein transfers but neither of those worked either. Eventually the doctors told him that they could remove that bone in the foot and he would walk on crutches for the rest of his life or they could amputate below the knee and he would lead a fairly normal life.

    My grandpa spoke to a couple of people that had amputations and decided he would like to lead a fairly normal life. So they amputated the leg and he got a prosthetic. He now is called by his doctor to talk to different people who need to have an amputation to help them better understand what they are going to go through and how to help overcome some of the fear and anxiety.

    For many years my great grandfather was a Za-Ga-Zig Shriner. He always tried to convince my grandpa to join. He finally decided to join the clown unit where he would have the most contact with kids and be able to show them that anything is possible. And he thought it was only fitting to use his prosthetic to do that and so he became Captain Peg the Pirate Clown. The Shrine is an organization that takes care of crippled and burn children. Their hospitals are all over the United States. The special thing about the hospitals is that they help kids free of charge. They fly families to the hospitals and take care of them.

    My grandpa has his mind set on leaving a wonderful legacy behind for the rest of our family to see that anything is possible. Today my grandpa works for a nursing home. Today he also live a fairly normal life. He still has a few obstacles to overcome in his path of life but he always finds a way to make it and make it as fun as he can.

    Name: Na’Jm Berry

  • Essay Title: My Hero
  • Grade & Teacher: Ms. Bootsma’s 8th grade
  • School: Stillwell Jr High
  • My heroes are Emily Lang and Kristopher Rollins. They deserve to be recognized as heroes because they assist us students as we go through our voyage of life to becoming advocates, giving us an opportunity to be heard. Their vision is to change the judgment of us youth by battling the blindness, injustice and silence. Giving us a leading part in change. Lang and Rollins are the founders of run DSM. Run DSM is a non-profit organization that allows students to show their writing to the community and other youth. The reason I consider them my heroes is because they allow me to leave this world where I feel alone by allowing me to speak my mind without judging me and telling me I’m not welcome. I often hear Lang and Rollins say that writing is sacred and every time I hear them say that it puts an imprint on my mind. Makes me realize that they really do care and want to us to get free on our writing and when we share our words I hear “Listening is sacred.” They al low not only I but many other youth with many different testimonies to share their stories. They love us youth and guide us through our journey. As time goes on Rollins and Lang really give us an opportunity to show not only ourselves but to the community that we are capable of making a change. They are just very self-sacrificing and compassionate in what they do and how they do it. Rollins and Lang may be two different people but they strive for the same goal. I would say Rollins is determined and committed to what he does and I think Lang is very sincere and happy with helping us youth through our journey. They are both very charismatic and inspiring leaders and I am proud to call them my adult friends. That’s why Lang and Rollins should be recognized as my hero.

    Name: Ali Borgmeyer

  • Essay Title: My Hero Paula
  • Grade & Teacher: Ms. Mort’s 5th grade
  • School: Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary
  • My hero is my neighbor her name I Paula Menke. I will tell you why she is a hero to me. Ever since I was little she always helps me, makes me smile and laugh. She makes me smile by just spending time with me. Because she only has boys in the house Paula loves to spend time with me whenever she can. And so do I. Because I was little I didn't want to stay home alone. So I would do my homework there and have a snack. She would help me out on my homework if I needed. She would listen to me read and make me feel very good and help me out and help when I struggled. I also love when Paula bakes with me. Paula will bake cookies, cupcakes, or a cake. She loves to make me smile. Paula will even let me make most of it. Even though I wasn't much help I sure loved to do it with her. I remember when I was mixing the flour and I went everywhere!! I look back and remember times that I wish I could replay.

    Paula kept me safe after school hours so I wouldn't be home with my brot her. And I would feel much safer. Paula would make me a snack I could watch TV and soon start on my homework. It means a lot to me that Paula will let my brother and I come to her house and for Paula to watch us and take care of us. When I’m with Paula my worries seem to disappear and I just feel way better when I hang out with her. I feel happy when I hang out with people that I know care about me. Paula does a lot for me and that means a lot. I couldn't thank her enough or show I don’t know what I would do without her in my life. Paula is like my second mother to me and what she does for me.