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American Red Cross Celebrates Local Heroes at 16th Annual Event

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“We would like to thank everyone who assisted in putting the event together"

The Nebraska/SW Iowa Region of the American Red Cross kicked off Red Cross Month with the 16th Annual Heroes in the Heartland awards luncheon at the Embassy Suites-La Vista.  This year’s event featured heartwarming stories of heroism and dedication the Omaha metro.



“Recognizing these incredible people and sharing their stories was such an honor,” says Mick McKinley, Board Co-Chair, of the American Red Cross serving the Omaha Council Bluffs Metro. “We would like to thank everyone who assisted in putting the event together, all of our corporate and individual sponsors who supported and attended the event, and especially our 2016 Heroes in the Heartland for their outstanding work in the community,” adds Steve Fisher, Board Co-Chair of the American Red Cross serving the Omaha Council Bluffs Metro.


This year’s awardees are: Army Sargent First Class Brandon Valle and Micha Peterson for taking down an angry student who was threatening others with a knife at UNO’s Criss Library; the Patriot Guard Riders of Nebraska for their dedication to serving our military members and their families by escorting those killed in action back to their hometown, standing guard with flags at funerals and providing guidance and support for the their families; Papillion Police Officer Jobi Drefs had been off duty when she risked her own life to help save the life of a truck driver who was trapped in a burning vehicle; the late Reverend John Schlegel, S.J. for his impact that he had on not only Creighton University, but the entire Omaha community; and Erin and Tim Seretta for bravely sharing their story of hope and loss. They credit blood donations for keeping their seven month old son, Henry, alive for 12 days before passing away from Leukemia. Watch our heroes stories on our YouTube page. 


In addition to acknowledging these seven local heroes, six Heroes Essay Contest winners were honored at the luncheon.  Fifth through eighth grade students in the Omaha metro area were given the opportunity to submit an essay about their own everyday heroes. About 600 essays were submitted. The winners are: St. Thomas Moore 7th Grader Aiyana Aguilar, Marqueze Bingham from Master Elementary School, Logan-Magnolia student Kali Collins, Camille Havenridge of Morton Magnet Middle School, St. Pius St. Leo student Kate Jensen, and Daniel Kelsay from Beadle Middle School. Read the winning essays. 


View photos from Heroes in the Heartland luncheon on our Flickr pageare online. 


About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.