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Red Cross of the Silicon Valley Announces 2016 Heroes Breakfast Honorees

Media Contact:
Cynthia Shaw

San Jose, CA (October 19, 2016) — The American Red Cross of the Silicon Valley will be honoring local heroes, who have shown courage, dedication and character through acts of heroism and kindness at the annual Red Cross Heroes Breakfast presented by Accenture on Thursday, November 17, 2016. Doors open at 7:30 and the program will begin 8 a.m. at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

Each year at the Heroes Breakfast, the Silicon Valley Chapter salutes local community members in Silicon Valley whose courageous actions exemplify the values of the Red Cross. This year’s Heroes Breakfast will also honor the contribution of local Red Cross volunteers since 1916 to make our community safer and more prepared, and ensure that the American Red Cross can continue to deliver its lifesaving programs and emergency services in Silicon Valley for another 100 years.

Here is the list of this year’s honorees:

Blood Services Hero: Dr. Maximilian Diehn and Dr. Ash Alizadeh
Together Dr. Maximilian Diehn and Dr. Ash Alizadeh, oncologists and researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine led a team that was able to improve the detection of cancer DNA in blood samples. To make this improvement, the team created a new approach that works by identifying errors that occur when tumor DNA is captured from the blood and prepared for sequencing. Removing these errors from the sequencing results allows researchers to more accurately identify true cancer-associated mutations from even very small amounts of starting material. According to Dr. Ash Alizadeh, “Our technique is a significant advance over prior bar-coding methods because it eliminates false positives without sacrificing true positives.”

Health and Safety Hero: Father Brendan McGuire and Holy Spirit Parish
Motivated by a personal encounter with a homeless teen, Father Brendan McGuire returned to his parish with the idea of transforming his church into a homeless shelter at night during the winter months. Over 500 parishioners were inspired to volunteer to provide a safe place to sleep and support for the area’s homeless women. Due to a law restricting the amount of time a single church can house a homeless person, Father Brendan McGuire and his team has expanded this project to include other nearby faith communities. His vision, "It would change us, it would change the Valley. Silicon Valley wouldn't be the same if every house of worship chose to help the homeless."

Disaster Services Hero: Greg Pena
Greg Pena was heading into work at the Los Gatos Swim and Racquet Club to teach his CrossFit class on March 26th, when he heard a loud crash and saw smoke coming from high on the wall dividing the Los Gatos Swim and Racquet Club and southbound Highway 17. Without a second thought, Pena scaled the 25’ high wall to see what he could do to help. Upon climbing over the wall, he discovered an overturned vehicle with dangling children still trapped inside. Borrowing a knife from someone who stopped on the highway to help, he climbed into the vehicle and cut the straps of the car seats. He then gently lifted the three infants out of the car and to their awaiting mother and sister.  The children were safe and recovered shortly after that. Apart from the children, Pena also helped to move the mother and sister away from the car, for fear of fire. Without Pena, the children would have suffered more trauma and possibly even severe injury.

Table sponsorships and individual tickets ($45) are available for purchase for the event at


About the American Red Cross of the Silicon Valley:

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. The American Red Cross of the Silicon Valley serves the residents of Santa Clara County.  For more information on disaster preparedness, health and safety classes, volunteer opportunities, and financial contributions, visit our website at or call us at 1-877-727-6771. You may also find us on Facebook and Twitter.