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Congratulations to the 2016 Everyday Heroes of Northeast Iowa

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These outstanding individuals have demonstrated courage, compassion and unselfish character.

The American Red Cross of Northeast Iowa, along with corporate sponsors Dupaco Community Credit Union, Holiday Inn Dubuque, KWWL and Radio Dubuque stations (KAT-FM, KDTH, 97.3 The Rock and The River) congratulate 21 local heroes as the 2016 Everyday Heroes of Northeast Iowa.

These outstanding individuals have demonstrated courage, compassion and unselfish character, performing extraordinary acts of heroism in the eyes of their neighbors and community. 

Mary Bissell, Toni Boardman, Mike Hefel. Martin Hefel, Jeff Troester: On Thursday, January 21, Toni Boardman of Guttenberg heard a man yelling from Bussey Lake. She saw Peter Kluesner, of New Vienna, neck-deep in the freezing water. Boardman initiated a call for help and then rushed toward the man. Officer Mary Bissell and Fireman Jeff Troester both heard the call and went immediately to the scene to help. Mike and Martin Hefel, who heard Kluesner’s cries for help, also hurried to help. All assisted in getting Kluesner out of the water and keeping him alert until he was transported to the hospital. Guttenberg police said the actions of all individuals undoubtedly saved Kluesner’s life.

Jodi Ehlers: Jodi Ehlers is a teacher at Ed-Co High School and volunteers as an American Red Cross blood drive coordinator. Ehlers is a leader who goes above and beyond for anyone. Her blood drives work like well-oiled machines and she can hand them over to students to run with no worries. She always makes her blood drive goal, even when there’s an urgent need. She’s added blood drives when times are tough, and works with other groups and grades to teach about the importance of donating blood. Ehlers is a fundraising advisor for the March of Dimes and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She also helps with 4-H club, tutors students and advises her FBLA chapter. She treats all of her students and community members like family.

Michael Breitbach: Michael Breitbach is the owner of Breitbach’s Country Dining and does many generous things for the community. Breitbach has hosted Red Cross blood drives at the restaurant and often brings meals to area residents who aren’t able to travel due to health, weather or other issues. Breitbach also shovels for senior citizens in the winter. What Breitbach does best is instill a sense of community and family to all who patronize the restaurant and in the northeast Iowa area.

Chuck Haas: On Sunday, October 11, 2015, Kim Hass went into cardiac arrest in her kitchen and crashed into her oven door. Her three sons and husband Chuck quickly ran to help her. Chuck Hass started CPR while her son Brandon called 9-1-1 and son Brett moved cards so the ambulance could reach their home. Chuck performed CPR for 10 to 15 minutes, and their son Brock took over a few times to give Chuck a break. Chuck is a licensed CPR instructor. The doctor told the family that if Chuck hadn’t performed CPR continuously until the ambulance arrived, Kim would not have survived.

Ashley Melchert: Ashley Melchert: is the founder and president of the Piece of Me Campaign, which is a nonprofit anti-bullying campaign based in Dubuque. The organization strives to empower individuals to create and embrace their own labels rather than be held down by what society says they are or what they should be. This is done through photos. Everyone who joins the campaign chooses a word that describes him or her, that word is written on label, and they pose for a photo with it. Melchert is working with area schools to revamp their anti-bullying policies and also started a program to match volunteer advocates with kids and families that are dealing with bullying.

Joe Connelly, John Schmitt, Betty Byers and Ryne Emler: Ryne Emler and Theisen’s employees Joe Connelly, John Schmitt and Betty Byers, worked together quickly and calmly when Dale Reeg experienced a medial crisis in the business’ parking lot on November 10, 2015. Emler performed CPR and with the quick actions of Connelly, Schmitt and Byers, Reeg survived. Their actions exemplify the importance of identifying a person in crisis, calling 9-1-1 and community CPR.

"General" Bob Felderman: Bob Felderman, also known as “General Bob,” was on his way to the VA hospital when he saw a crash on the highway. With the help of another person, Felderman was able to pull a man from a burning semi-truck. Felderman says he saw the Western Express semi drift off the road and hit multiple guard rails before crashing into an overpass. Felderman rushed to the aid of the driver and was able to get him to safety before the truck exploded.

Judy Faulhaber: Judy Faulhaber is the owner of Big Apple Bagels and each month she uses her business to showcase a local nonprofit organization in her store and using her paid advertising. Faulhaber understands that nonprofit organizations often struggle raising awareness about their missions and her support ensures that organizations can reach the people they intend to service. Faulhaber is passionate about strengthening her community. She often donates to fundraising events or offers food to people that are hungry.

Jeni VanBuer: Jeni VanBuer is dedicated to the Clinton County community and volunteers for the YWCA She often donates money to families in need and stays with them to make sure they ok through their ups and downs. VanBuer not only works closely with the families, but mentors the staff at the YWCA as well.

Sister Martha Luedtke: Sister Martha Luedtke helps manage the Alverno Apartments which is a HUD property for senior citizens and people with disabilities. She is the on-call person at Alverno and is available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She often answers emergency calls from tenant experiencing medical emergencies. She has a background as a paramedic and many tenants say she has a calming presence. Sister Martha keeps tenants safe at all times, especially on nights and weekends.

Cheryl Neyens: Cheryl Neyens is the property manager at Penn Place Apartments. When one of her tenants was battling terminal cancer, Neyens took care of him, including attending more than 25 doctor appointments with him and even a visit to the emergency room. She visits his unit every day to make sure he is doing ok, sat with him while discussing his funeral arrangements and promised to drive his ashes to Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois. Bill Widmeier calls Neyens his “guardian angel.”

Darlene Seidel: Darlene Seidel is a blood drive coordinator for the American Red Cross. Seidel has organized the largest collecting blood drive in a 22 county area and the average collection of 152 units of blood! Seidel has formed relationships with her donors and has made inroads with the community and school districts. She even makes food for donors and staff which can often be up to 250 people.

Derrick England: Derrick England is the Corporate Safety Manager for Hodge Company. He was nominated for his efforts to ensure people have a safe work place. He spent 12 years teaching workplace safety to high school and college students in North Carolina, and now with Hodge Company he is adding new and innovative safety initiatives. He has dedicated his time to reminding groups he works with of safety best practices, this includes: warehouse employees, management and customers.

Jim Wagner: Jim Wagner is a volunteer at the Veteran’s Freedom Center. He dedicates his time, attitude and energy toward veterans in the community and also finds ways to help veterans find the strength to help themselves. He can be seen at most events that support the military and veterans including Honor Flight. Wagner drives the Army Jeep to lead racers down the start of the Heritage Trail for the RUN4TROOPS marathon/relay.

Everyday Heroes are nominated by their peers to be recognized for going above and beyond in service to others. An Everyday Hero is someone who has made a difference in any of the following categories: Animal Rescue, Education, Fire & Rescue, Good Samaritan (youth), Good Samaritan (adult), Health Care, Law Enforcement, Military, Professional Responder, Volunteer Community Impact or Workplace Safety. 

American Red Cross in Iowa Celebrating a Century of Service in 2016

The Red Cross in Iowa will be celebrating its Century of service through a variety of events and campaigns that honor the contributions of the Red Cross and its volunteers and build the foundation for another 100 years of service in Iowa. The Red Cross would like to thank Nationwide for stepping up to ensure a sustainable, long-term future for Red Cross service in Iowa by committing its support as a Centennial Partner, and to KCRG-TV9 and Transamerica for support as Centennial Sponsors. Find out more at www.redcross.org/iowacentennial

To see photos from the event, click here