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California Northwest Red Cross Announces 2018 Heroes Breakfast Honorees

Media Contact:

Kathryn Hecht

917-805-7241 |

24-Hour Media Hotline:

855-559-0333 |

15th Annual Heroes Breakfast to be held on Friday, April 27

SANTA ROSA, CA (March 5, 2018) – The American Red Cross of the California Northwest will be honoring 18 inspirational community members for their lasting impact on the community at its 15th Annual Real Heroes Breakfast on Friday, April 27, at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in Santa Rosa. Table sponsorships and individual tickets are still available for the event. Registration will open at 7:00 a.m., and the program will run from 7:30 until 9 a.m.

After careful consideration, a committee of local community leaders selected the 2018 California Northwest Red Cross Hero Award recipients based on the degree to which their acts of heroism uphold the values of the American Red Cross and leave a lasting and positive impact on the residents of the Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma Counties.  The following is a list of the heroes who will be honored at this year’s breakfast, and detailed descriptions of each honoree are featured below.

•  Animal Hero: Peter Lang

•  Blood Services Hero: Jerry Seltzer

•  Disaster Services Heroes: Eli Ponce and Dan Wynn

•  Education Heroes: Matt Markovich and Stephanie Jarrett

•  Environment Heroes: Chris Ostrom, Aaron Ostrom, and Tim Haywood

•  First Responder Hero: Mark Aldridge

•  Healthcare Heroes: Peggy Goebel, Joe Clendenin, and Robert Pellegrini

•  Humanitarian Heroes - Adult: Matthew and Amanda Nalywaiko

•  Humanitarian Heroes - Youth: Patrick Foley and Jackson Phillips

•  International Services Hero: Pearl Fisher

•  Service to the Armed Forces Hero: Ginny Craven

The Real Heroes Breakfast is a signature event in support of the lifesaving programs and emergency services the local chapter provides to the nearly one million residents in Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma Counties. To purchase tickets and for more information about the event, please go to:  



Animal Hero: Peter Lang (Sonoma County)

When wildfire raced into Sonoma County from the east, Safari West owner Peter Lang spent the entire night at the 400-acre wildlife preserve, saving over 1,000 animals.  After sending his wife, guests, and employees off to safety, Peter remained at the preserve to shepherd over 1,000 animals to safety while the fire raged around them.  Peter worked past dawn and saved every animal on the preserve.

Blood Services Hero: Jerry Seltzer (Sonoma County)

Jerry Seltzer, former Commissioner of Roller Derby League, teamed with American Red Cross to hold blood drives, inviting the local Resurrection Roller Girls team to participate enhancing the activity. Coined “Make’em Bleed,” the Roller Derby-themed blood drives have spread throughout California and the country, bringing in a five-year total of over 1,100 units of blood.

Disaster Services Heroes: Eli Ponce (Napa County) and Dan Wynn (Napa County)

For six days, Eli Ponce and Dan Wynn, of Eli Ponce and Sons General Engineering, saved homes and entire neighborhoods by voluntarily working around the clock to create firebreaks behind Browns Valley during the Nuns fire. The pair put themselves in harm’s way, using their business’ bulldozers to dig breaks and divert the raging fire until Cal Fire could take over. They refueled six times, donating the cost of fuel as well.

Education Heroes: Matthew Markovich (Sonoma County) and Stephanie Jarrett (Sonoma County)

Athletic Director Matt Markovich and Stephanie Jarrett, district manager of training and compliance, introduced the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event to SRJC. 350 Students participated in a mile-long walk, in high heels, then broke into discussion groups to have the often-difficult conversations about how to identify warning signs of sexual assaults and how to be more active in preventing them. 

Environment Heroes: Chris Ostrom (Mendocino County), Tim Haywood (Humboldt County), and Aaron Ostrom (Humboldt County)

Passionate about keeping outdoor spaces free of litter and debris, Chris Ostrom, Tim Haywood, and Aaron Ostrom founded the Pacific Outfitters (PacOut) Green Team in Eureka and then in Ukiah. PacOut Green Team is dedicated to improving the environment at the Lake Mendocino and other recreation areas by leading weekend “60-minute cleanups.” Chris also creates awareness by speaking at Ukiah High School, partnering with other organizations, and engaging local government to provide funds for staffing recreation areas.

First Responder Hero: Mark Aldridge (Sonoma County)

Deputy Mark Aldridge, of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department, protected the lives of 35 people, young and old, the night of the Tubbs Fire. Deputy Aldridge prevented cars from descending into the inferno that was already burning across Mark West Springs Road. He directed people to drive back up the road and meet in the parking lot of the Mark West Lodge to shelter in place, park the cars in a circle and cover them with wet blankets. He kept the crowd safe and calm until they could safely drive out after the fire passed.

Healthcare Heroes: Peggy Goebel (Sonoma County), Joe Clendenin (Sonoma County), and Robert Pellegrini (Sonoma County)

Peggy Goebel, Joe Clendenin, and Robert Pellegrini volunteered their healthcare skills and knowledge above and beyond the call of duty at the Veterans Memorial Shelter in Santa Rosa during the Tubbs fire. Peggy, a nurse, took the lead to care for the hundreds of people evacuated from their homes and local hospitals, many wearing just their pajamas. Dr. Joe Clendenin led some 600 doctors and nurses to administer to the medical needs and Robert, a local pharmacist, personally filled, delivered, and paid for critical medications for the evacuees.

Humanitarian Heroes - Adult: Matthew and Amanda Nalywaiko (Sonoma County)

Matthew and Amanda Nalysaiko founded a small, local nonprofit called Serve A Little, which marshaled an army of professional tradesmen, mechanics and skilled handymen, to help low-income single mothers and military wives with home and auto repairs. The organization also collected donated cars and refurbished them for deserving mothers. This has now become a four-bay auto shop and all proceeds go to helping single moms in need.

Humanitarian Heroes - Youth: Patrick Foley (Sonoma County) and Jackson Phillips (Sonoma County)

Jackson Phillips and Patrick Foley, both 17 years old, volunteer with the Red Cross as Pillowcase Project Educators, and Jackson joined the Disaster Action Team. When the wildfires hit in October, Jackson and Patrick immediately reported the Red Cross. Both Jackson and Patrick's homes, and most of their friends' homes were lost in the fire that night, along with their school. However, instead of focusing on what they lost, Jackson and Patrick worked long hours every day, for two weeks after the fires, to help in shelters; to help in warehouses; to help wherever they were needed.

International Services Hero: Pearl Fisher (Sonoma County)

Seven-year-old Pearl Fisher learned at The Healdsburg School that, instead of going to school, young girls in parts of Africa have to retrieve water for their families from a dirty stream a long way from their village. She wanted to do something to help, so she started designing and selling greeting cards and asked her friends to donate to the cause. She has now donated more than $10,000 to Water4 to help drill wells.

Service to the Armed Forces Hero: Ginny Craven (Lake County)

Ginny Craven runs Operation Tango Mike (code for Thanks Much) to send support packages to military personnel. She hosts monthly packaging parties at the Umpqua Bank in Lakeport, with a typical crowd of 40 volunteers ready to work. More than 20,000 packages have been sent, not randomly, but addressed to specific individuals.


About American Red Cross of the California Northwest:

With office locations in Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma counties, 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, visit our web site at or call us at 1-707-577-7600. You may also find us onFacebook  and Twitter.