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

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

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 21, 2015– The American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties is pleased to announce the eight local heroes that will be honored at its 13th 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 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.  

“This event simply gets better and better every year – a testament to the great work going on by every day heroes in our community,” said Bill Earley, regional CEO of the local Red Cross. “It is an honor to celebrate their heroism and dedication to people and our community.”

The 2015 Real Heroes Honorees include:

  •  Roy Forbes, Cordell Fleming, Randy Harford and Robert Sears -- Adult Honorees
    Presented by Sycuan
    During rush hour traffic last July, a small single engine plane went down in flames directly behind the Costco Business Center in Kearny Mesa. These Costco employees observed the crash and acted quickly to try and put out the fire with fire extinguishers and assist in the rescue of the pilot and passenger of the plane. 

  • Sally Montrucchio -- Animal Welfare Honoree
    Presented by Walmart

    Inspired to save the lives of both dogs and military service members, Sally is the driving force behind Next Step Service Dogs, an organization that finds rescue dogs and trains them to be service dogs for wounded warriors with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), all at no-cost to the veteran.  

  •  Residence Inn by Marriott -- Community Partner Honorees
    Presented by US Bank

    The council has partnered with the Red Cross in its Prepare San Diego initiative by spearheading a dedicated effort of training all of its associates in disaster preparedness. In 2014, they expanded by delivering preparedness training to all 12 Residence Inn San Diego hotels, with a goal of training 100 percent of the hotel staff, and so much more.

  • Alex Wallbrett and Benjamin Vernon -- Fire & Rescue Honorees
    Presented by San Diego City Firefighters Local 145

    While tending to a patient during a medical emergency, an unprovoked bystander attacked Vernon, stabbing him multiple times. The attacker was subdued by Vernon’s partner, Wallbrett. Without hesitation or regard for his own safety, Wallbrett put himself between Vernon and the attacker, where he too was stabbed multiple times. 

  • William “Billy” S. Rogers -- Law Enforcement Honoree
    Presented by Wawanesa Insurance
    The Supervisory Border Patrol Agent was off-duty and enjoying family time at a neighborhood swimming pool. Suddenly his daughters ran up and told him there was a child at the bottom of the pool. He responded immediately, yelling for bystanders to call 911 while he jumped into the swimming pool. Agent Rogers dove down and lifted the two-year-old toddler out of the pool, administered back blows and rescue breathing techniques in order to clear the child’s lungs. 

  • Randy Vaccaro -- Military Honoree
    Presented by Kaiser Permanente
    Randy Vaccaro is a U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran with three tours of duty to both Iraq and Afghanistan. As a sergeant in Iraq, Randy suffered a traumatic brain injury from several roadside bomb blasts. After leaving the Marine Corps in 2010, Randy lost his way. Suffering from anxiety, nightmares, and depression, Randy is now in his 19th month of sobriety, after residential care at Veterans Village of San Diego and the VA Aspire Center. Randy has turned his troubles into triumphs by helping fellow veterans.

  • Christopher Simmons -- Youth Honoree
    Presented by San Diego Gas & Electric
    Last year Life Scout Christopher Simmons, then just 17 years old, was on his way home when he observed a vegetation fire spreading quickly towards a housing development in the San Marcos area. Christopher took action and responsibility to put forth efforts to save several homes.

  • Dennis-Michael Broussard -- Wendell Cutting Humanitarian Award Honoree
    Presented by Ford
    Dennis-Michael Broussard is a long-time humanitarian. For years, he has dedicated his life to performing local and international charity work. Last year, Dennis-Michael ventured to Africa to distribute water filters for people in places with little to no access to clean drinking water. In San Diego, he works with minority communities, particularly in the Asian American community, to develop the next generation of leaders.

The Red Cross will also honor the Scripps Medical Response Team (SMRT), the only medical team from a San Diego County health system to be deployed to Nepal in the wake of the devastating earthquake.

The Real Heroes Breakfast takes place on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 at 7:30 a.m. aboard the USS Midway Museum. For more about the winners, or to purchase individual tickets, please visit or call (858) 309-1267.

About the American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties

The American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties 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; 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.