You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Red Cross California Northwest Chapter Raises more than $170,000 at Annual Real Heroes Breakfast

Media Contact:
Kathryn Hecht


24-Hour Media Hotline:
855-559-0333 |  


Red Cross California Northwest Chapter Raises more than $170,000 at Annual Real Heroes Breakfast


Photos from the 2018 Real Heroes Breakfast


SANTA ROSA, CA (May 14, 2018) – On Friday, April 27, 2018, more than 250 community members, business leaders, and guests joined the American Red Cross of the California Northwest in honoring 19 inspirational community members for their selfless acts of courage at its 15th Annual Real Heroes Breakfast. The event took place at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel in Santa Rosa, CA and raised more than $170,000 to benefit the American Red Cross disaster preparedness, response, and recovery programs. A portion of the morning's proceeds will be used to purchase a redesigned Emergency Response Vehicle to serve our community during disasters. 


The event sponsors included REACH Medical Holdings, LLC, Kaiser Permanente, Jackson Family Wines, PG&E, St. Joseph Health, American AgCredit, Redwood Credit Union, Silver Oak/Twomey Cellars, Sonoma Raceway, Sutter Health, Keysight Technologies, Wells Fargo, AMR, and Lagunitas Brewing. 


The Real Heroes Breakfast is a signature event for the local Red Cross chapter. It benefits the numerous lifesaving programs and services the chapter provides in support of nearly 1 million people in the six counties served: Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Sonoma, and Napa. After careful consideration, a committee of local community leaders selected the 2018 California Northwest Red Cross Hero Award recipients based on the degree to which their heroic actions have benefited their communities and upheld the values of the American Red Cross. The following individuals were honored at this year’s banquet:


Animal Hero: Peter Lang (Sonoma County)

When wildfire raced into Sonoma County from the east, Safari West owner Peter Lang spent the entire night at the 400-acre wildlife preserve, saving over 1,000 animals.  After sending his wife, guests, and employees off to safety, Peter remained at the preserve to shepherd over 1,000 animals to safety while the fire raged around them.  Peter worked past dawn and saved every animal on the preserve.


Blood Services Hero: Jerry Seltzer (Sonoma County)

Jerry Seltzer, former Commissioner of Roller Derby League, teamed with the American Red Cross to hold blood drives, inviting the local Resurrection Roller Girls team to participate, enhancing the activity. Coined “Make’ em Bleed,” the Roller Derby-themed blood drives have spread throughout California and the country, bringing in more than 1,100 units of blood in five years.


Disaster Services Heroes: Eli Ponce (Napa County) and Dan Wynn (Napa County)

For six days, Eli Ponce and Dan Wynn, of Eli Ponce and Sons General Engineering, saved homes and entire neighborhoods by voluntarily working around the clock to create firebreaks behind Browns Valley during the Nuns fire. The pair put themselves in harm’s way, using their business’ bulldozers to dig breaks and divert the raging fire until Cal Fire could take over. They refueled six times, donating the cost of fuel as well.


Education Heroes: Matthew Markovich (Sonoma County) and Stephanie Jarrett (Sonoma County)

Athletic Director Matt Markovich and Stephanie Jarrett, District Manager of Training and Compliance, introduced the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event to the Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC). 350 students participated in a mile-long walk, some in high heels. Then students broke into discussion groups to have the often-difficult conversations about how to identify warning signs of sexual assaults and how to be more active in preventing them. 


Environment Heroes: Chris Ostrom (Mendocino County), Tim Haywood (Humboldt County), and Aaron Ostrom (Humboldt County)

Passionate about keeping outdoor spaces free of litter and debris, Chris Ostrom, Tim Haywood, and Aaron Ostrom founded the Pacific Outfitters (PacOut) Green Team in Eureka and then in Ukiah. PacOut Green Team is dedicated to improving the environment at Lake Mendocino and other recreation areas by leading “60-minute cleanups” on weekends. Chris also creates awareness by speaking at Ukiah High School, partnering with other organizations, and engaging local government to provide funds for staffing recreation areas.


First Responder Hero: Mark Aldridge (Sonoma County)

Deputy Mark Aldridge, of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department, protected the lives of 35 people, young and old, the night of the Tubbs Fire. Deputy Aldridge prevented cars from descending into the inferno that was already burning across Mark West Springs Road. He directed people to drive back up the road and meet in the parking lot of the Mark West Lodge to shelter in place, park the cars in a circle and cover them with wet blankets. He kept the crowd safe and calm throughout the night until they could safely drive once the fire passed.


Healthcare Heroes: Peggy Goebel (Sonoma County), Joe Clendenin (Sonoma County), and Robert Pellegrini (Sonoma County)

Peggy Goebel, Joe Clendenin, and Robert Pellegrini volunteered their healthcare skills and knowledge above and beyond the call of duty at the Veterans Memorial Shelter in Santa Rosa during the Tubbs fire. Peggy, a nurse, took the lead to care for the hundreds of people evacuated from their homes and local hospitals, many wearing just their pajamas. Dr. Joe Clendenin led some 600 doctors and nurses to administer to the medical needs, and Robert, a local pharmacist, personally filled, delivered, and paid for critical medications for the evacuees.


Humanitarian Heroes - Adult: Matthew and Amanda Nalywaiko (Sonoma County)

Matthew and Amanda Nalywaiko founded a small, local nonprofit called Serve A Little, which marshaled an army of professional tradesmen, mechanics, and skilled handymen to help low-income single mothers and military wives with home and auto repairs. The organization also collected donated cars and refurbished them for deserving mothers. Serve a Little has now become a four-bay auto shop, and all proceeds go to helping single moms in need.


Humanitarian Heroes - Youth: Patrick Foley (Sonoma County) and Jackson Phillips (Sonoma County)

Jackson Phillips and Patrick Foley, both 18 years old, volunteer with the Red Cross as Pillowcase Project Educators, and Jackson also joined the Disaster Action Team. When the wildfires hit in October, Jackson and Patrick immediately reported to the Red Cross. Both Jackson and Patrick's homes and most of their friends' homes were lost in the fire that night, along with their school. However, instead of focusing on what they lost, Jackson and Patrick worked long hours every day for two weeks after the fires to help in shelters, warehouses, and wherever they were needed.


International Services Hero: Pearl Fisher (Sonoma County)

Seven-year-old Pearl Fisher learned at The Healdsburg School that, instead of going to school, young girls in parts of Africa have to retrieve water for their families from a dirty stream a long way from their village. She wanted to do something to help, so she started designing and selling greeting cards and asked her friends to donate to the cause. She has now donated more than $10,000 to Water4 to help drill wells.


Service to the Armed Forces Hero: Ginny Craven (Lake County)

Ginny Craven runs Operation Tango Mike (code for Thanks Much) to send support packages to military personnel. She hosts monthly packaging parties at the Umpqua Bank in Lakeport with a typical crowd of 40 volunteers ready to work. More than 20,000 packages have been sent, not randomly, but addressed to specific individuals.


About American Red Cross of the California Northwest

With office locations in Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma counties, the American Red Cross is a non-profit, humanitarian organization that depends on the generous contributions of time and money from residents and companies to provide services and programs that help our community to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. For more information, visit our website at or call us at 1-707-577-7600. You may also find us on Facebook and Twitter.