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Red Cross Greater Long Beach Celebrates 100 Years By Honoring Hometown Heroes

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LONG BEACH, March 2 — The Red Cross of Greater Long Beach celebrated its 100 years by honoring 16 “Hometown Heroes” at an award ceremony luncheon, March 2nd, at the Grand Long Beach Event Center, attended by more than 400 guests. A special Corporate Hero Award was presented to Tesoro Corporation, and Bragg Companies were recognized as the Centennial Sponsor for their outstanding generosity and loyal dedication to the mission of the American Red Cross. 

The Hometown Heroes Award recipients were presented with a medal and plaque for their heroic act by Margaret Arbini-Madonna, Executive Director, and Paul Conrad, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Red Cross Greater Long Beach. 

“We celebrate these heroes so that from them and their stories we will be inspired to become and stay prepared, so that when the time comes, when our fellow man needs help, when it falls to you or me to be everything, to be the whole world to another human being, we will rise to the occasion,” said Conrad.

Each year the Red Cross honors individuals who demonstrate selfless acts of courage and humanitarian service, people whose extraordinary acts exemplify the American Red Cross mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering. Honored were men and women, who went above and beyond to help save lives by responding to extraordinary circumstances.

The event brought together Red Cross community partners like, Southern California Edison, Valero, Andelson, Atkinson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, AES Alamitos Generating, Cal Water, Mitsubishi Cement, Toyota Auto Body Company, and UPS. Also in attendance were local elected officials, business leaders, family and friends. Mat Kaplan, host and producer of “Planetary Radio” for the Planetary Society was emcee. 

All were moved by the brave extraordinary acts of individuals who changed someone’s life. The 16 individuals honored were: 

Bernd Stevens – After World War II began Bernd joined the U.S. Army. On April 16, 1945 Bernd was captured by the Gestapo, and taken to prison but was able to escape and returned to the U.S. The war was ending but Bernd wanted to help free more prisoners. He charted a plane, risked his life by parachuting near his prison and helped stop the killing of many innocent people.

Bridget Hains, Lisa Montoya, & Alonso Serna - One morning on January 2016, a patron at the La Mirada Civic Center notified employees Bridget Hains and Lisa Montoya that a patron had fallen and was unresponsive. Bridget rushed to get the AED machine while Lisa performed CPR. Suddenly, Alonso Serna, arrived at the civic center to process some forms, he noticed Bridget and Lisa helping a woman on the floor. He asked if he could assist and began CPR compressions and helped the woman until paramedics arrived. It took all three heroes working together to save Ms. Adler’s life. 

Erin Grissom, Max James-Jolly, Julia Jaynes, Mark Ryan - On a busy Memorial Day weekend at Alamitos Bay sailing instructor Mark Ryan heard screaming. He ran to the source and found a young girl floating face down in the lagoon. Mark dove in and initiated CPR. His co-worker, Erin Grissom, began to assist. Max, who had been in a training session, rushed to the scene and sent another co-worker, Julia Jaynes to get a life guard and call 911. By the time the EMT’s and life guards arrived, the girl was already breathing on her own. Erin, Max, Julia, and Mark saved this girl’s life.

Michael Cravin - Michael became CPR certified through the Red Cross and never imagined that he would be using that skill to save his mom. Michael was visiting his parents, was on his way out when he discovered his mother lying face-down on the floor. While his father dialed 911 Michael realized his mom wasn’t breathing, and as trained by the Red Cross he performed CPR on her until the paramedics arrived. He basically saved his mother’s life.

Andre & Joelle Mary - Andre and Joelle Mary were biking in el Dorado Park when they saw a girl standing out on a freeway overpass. Andre thought she might jump, so he dropped his bike, and began moving towards the girl. Joelle, on the other hand, got a hold of the girl’s shirt pulled her back to safety, and asked a passerby to call 911. Joelle was also concerned for the safety of her husband Andre who was standing on the other side of the fence full of passing cars. The fire department arrived and saved the girl from jumping. Andre and Joelle were at the right place and the right time, and didn’t think twice about risking their own lives to save that girl. 

Cuauhtémoc Blancas - Little did Cuauhtémoc know that just after five days after attending a CPR class at the Red Cross he’d have to use his new skills to save his best friend’s life. On a windy day last November Cuauhtémoc and his friend Chon were working together unloading sand bags at a work site in Malibu when suddenly the wind picked up and Chon started to choke on sand that had blown up into the air. At that moment Cuauhtémoc’s Red Cross training kicked in and started performing CPR compressions until the ambulance arrived. Chon has since made a full recovery and is extremely grateful to his friend Cuauthémoc who saved his life. 

Ed Hano - On December 18, 2015 off-duty officer Ed Hano was at home when his daughter ran inside to tell him that a woman was out in the street with her unresponsive baby that had fallen into a swimming pool. He immediately started CPR, finally the baby gurgled, and water poured out. Shortly after paramedics arrived, the baby was taken to the hospital and has since recovered at home with her parent. Ed saved this baby’s life. 

Rory Willeford & Alex Novak - On Mother’s day, Rory Willeford and his family were having dinner at a restaurant when his mother in-law started choking. Right away Rory put her in the Heimlich position but she began to go limp. Alex, the manager of the restaurant and trained in CPR by the Red Cross asked one of the servers to call 911 as he rushed to Rory’s table to help Alex. Thanks to his CPR training Alex was able to help Rory save his mother in law. 

Susie Powell - One morning last March Susie Powell was on her way to work when she looked to her right at an intersection and saw a driver slumped backwards in his car. Susie pulled over called 911, the dispatcher told her to begin chest compressions on the man. Within moments, the paramedics arrived and took over his care. To learn more about the American Red Cross preparedness tips, visit