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Soiree Will Recognize Denver-Metro Heroes

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On Feb. 26, the American Red Cross will honor inspiring Coloradans who have saved lives, responded in the midst of disaster, and offered care and comfort to refugee children. All have made a difference in their communities. 

The Red Cross will present five awards honoring local heroes during the American Red Cross Heroes Soiree, 4:30-7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 26 at the Exdo Event Center. 

Honorees will include: 

• Four bystanders who leapt into action to provide CPR and save the life of a man who collapsed of sudden cardiac arrest after water skiing at a lake in Lakewood;

• An Army Reservist who deployed multiple times to save lives as a medic, sacrificing his own private medical practice each time in order to serve his country;

• An off-duty EMT who rescued an elderly couple from a home fire in Denver; 

• A Gold Hill elementary school teacher who has helped prepare her school and community against disasters – and also volunteered when disasters struck; 

• And a couple who open their home to foster unaccompanied refugee children who are resettling in Colorado. 

The Heroes Soiree is a celebration of the Red Cross spirit as exemplified in lifesaving heroes in Colorado. A cutting-edge, unique evening of inspiration and entertainment, the Soiree is also the American Red Cross Mile High Area’s largest fundraiser of the year. The event will feature keynote speaker Gail McGovern, CEO of the American Red Cross national organization, and special guest Governor John Hickenlooper. Former Denver Bronco and motivational speaker Reggie Rivers will serve as Master of Ceremonies alongside Britt Moreno of CBS4 Denver. 

Find out more at 


Lifesaving Award: After a man finished water skiing at Bear Creek Lake Park, he collapsed on the dock and stopped breathing. Brian Kakac, JC Pritchard, Liz Funk, and Drew Sprafke leapt into action and called 911, performed CPR, and used an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) to shock the man’s heart. The team’s efforts played a vital role in saving the man’s life. 

Service to Armed Forces Award: As a member of the U.S. Army Reserves and a trained medical professional, Palomares has deployed overseas twice to serve his country as a medic and to save the lives of fellow members of the military. In addition to sacrificing the comforts of home and time with his loved ones during his tours of duty, Palomares also made economic sacrifices: each time he deployed, he had to close his private medical practice and then rebuild it upon returning from deployment. 

Safety and Preparedness Award: Gold Hill Elementary School teacher Natalie Littlefield helps protect and prepare the children in her school and the people in her community. She leads the school’s emergency response team, brings disaster preparedness education into the classroom, and wrote a grant to secure a lifesaving AED for the school. Additionally, Littlefield is a volunteer firefighter at the Sunshine Fire Station and volunteered supporting disaster response during recent wildfires and floods. 

Disaster Response Award: While driving home after a long shift at the Denver Paramedic Division, Kristin Genova noticed structure fire. Although weary, Genova stopped and notified 911. She helped two elderly residents evacuate from the home, bringing them to safety. Genova stayed with the couple until they were reunited with family. Her act of courage helped save the lives of this vulnerable couple. 

International Services Award: Geras Shokulu came to the United States as an unaccompanied refugee minor – a child who fled his homeland and had no parents or relatives to help him resettle in the U.S. Today, Geras and his wife, Jacqueline Mukandekezi, selflessly offer their time, compassion, and home to foster unaccompanied refugee minors. Over the past five years, the couple has fostered eight children and is currently fostering two more.