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Local Red Cross to Celebrate “Real Heroes” in the Community

2014-09-30 - San Diego - Local Red Cross to Celebrate “Real Heroes” in the Community

San Diego, CA – The American Red Cross San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter is pleased to announce eight local heroes to be honored at its 12th Annual Real Heroes Breakfast. The popular event recognizes local individuals and organizations that embody the mission and spirit of the Red Cross by saving lives and creating safer, stronger and more resilient communities.

Since the inception of the annual Real Heroes Breakfast, the Red Cross has celebrated more than 100 individuals in a number of categories. Each hero has their own unique story of bravery and selfless commitment to helping others in need.

“It is truly an honor to celebrate this year’s Real Heroes honorees. These extraordinary individuals have made an indelible impact on our community,” said Bill Earley, Regional CEO of the local Red Cross. “Their heroism, bravery, and dedication are an enormous inspiration to us all.”

The 2014 Real Heroes Honorees include:

  • Lacy Lawrence (Adult Honoree; Presented by Kaiser Permanente) - Last year, Lacy Lawrence was enjoying an afternoon with her family when she witnessed a terrible car accident. That’s when she jumped into action to save a mother and 6-month-old baby from the fiery crash, ultimately pulling both victims from the wreckage and staying with them until help arrived.
  • Gunner and Melissa Ramirez (Animal Welfare Honorees; Presented by US Bank) - When retired Navy Corpsman Melissa Ramirez returned from two traumatic combat tours on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, she suffered from PTSD, which quickly took debilitating control of her life. That’s when she met Gunner, a friendly and loving 5-year-old service dog. Together, they triumphed over adversity and today they help others to do the same.
  • Marriot Residence Inn Local Cultural Council (Community Partner Honorees; Presented by Ford) - Dedicated to encouraging preparedness in our community, the Cultural Council has partnered with the Red Cross in its Prepare San Diego initiative by training all of its associates in disaster preparedness. And that’s not the only way they’re impacting the community.
  • Kia Afsahi (Fire & Rescue Honoree; Presented by San Diego City Firefighters Local 145) - Captain Kia Afsahi was enjoying a day off with his daughter when he witnessed a man in cardiac arrest. Captain Afsahi immediately jumped in to help, providing lifesaving CPR as onlookers called for help. In a unique turn of events, Afsahi recognized the man he saved was actually his neighbor, who was at his doorstep just four days later to thank Captain Afsahi for saving his life.
  • Salvador Acevedo and Debbie Zendejas (Law Enforcement Honorees; Presented by Sycuan) - Officer Salvador Acevedo and Public Safety Dispatcher (PSD) Debbie Zendejas were working late on December 31, 2013. In the midst of a quiet night, they weren’t expecting what happened next. A family rushed into the station, desperately calling for help for their toddler, who was choking and unable to breathe. That’s when Officer Acevedo and PSD Zendejas sprang into action, saving the child and remaining with the family until paramedics arrived.
  • AWS1 Bobby Price (Military Honoree; Presented by Walmart) - Aviation Warfare Specialist First Class (AWS1) Bobby Price has a knack for quick-thinking. On three separate occasions, he has responded to serious car and motorcycle accidents, each time selflessly putting himself in harm’s way in order to provide medical attention to injured victims.
  • Sophia Pruden (Youth Honoree; Presented by SDG&E) - Seven years ago, Sophia Pruden lost her aunt after a long battle with leukemia. Sophia wanted to do something in her memory. That’s when Sophia’s Cookies for a Cure and Lemonade Stand all began. Now 14 years old, Sophia has raised over $30,000 for leukemia and lymphoma research and created a true movement in the community.
  • Jim Silveira (Wendell Cutting Humanitarian Award Honoree; Presented by Barona) - Jim Silveira has always loved animals. The founder of Southern California German Shepherd Rescue, he’s found forever homes for thousands of dogs. Now the President of Rancho Coastal Humane Society, Jim has created one of the most innovative animal shelters in the western United States. His work assists more than just animals, but also helps everyone from veterans to homeless individuals to domestic abuse victims and more.
  • The Red Cross will also honor Lieutenant Alberto Leos, who survived the tragic McDonald’s massacre thirty years ago. The ordeal inspired him to become a police officer, where he’s served for two decades. The Red Cross will recognize Lieutenant Leos as a special honoree for his representation of leadership, heroism and resilience in the face of tragedy, and for his selfless dedication to protecting and serving his community.

    The Real Heroes Breakfast will take place on Friday, Oct. 3, 2013 at 7:30 a.m. aboard the USS Midway Museum. Those interested in finding out more about the winners or in purchasing a table at the event are encouraged to visit or call (858) 309-1278.

    About the American Red Cross San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter

    The American Red Cross San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter is the most trusted community service organization in education, preparation and response to natural disasters and human emergencies. With the public’s ongoing support we provide lifesaving preparedness training; disaster relief services; 24-hour emergency services to deployed military personnel and their families; and nutritional counseling through our Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. Through Prepare San Diego, a four-year regional resiliency initiative, the Red Cross brings together key community and business leaders from the region to create a sustainable network that encourages preparedness, carries out response and recovery plans, and strives for resiliency in the face of disaster, meeting all aspects of the disaster lifecycle. 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 connect with us on Facebook and YouTube and Twitter.