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Local Red Cross Announces 2016 Real Heroes Award Recipients

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Media Contacts


Maureen Kilkenny | Regional Communications Director

American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties
858-309-1271 | 858-205-0148 (cell)



Catalina Duarte | Volunteer Public Information Officer

American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties

619-395-0533 (cell) 

Local Red Cross Announces 2016 Real Heroes Award Recipients

14th Annual Real Heroes Breakfast to be held Friday, Oct. 7 aboard USS Midway Museum

SAN DIEGO, September 29, 2016 The American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties is pleased to announce the eleven local heroes and one organization that will be honored at its 14th Annual Real Heroes Breakfast on Oct. 7 aboard the USS Midway Museum. The popular event recognizes 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 helping others in need.  

“We’re honored to celebrate this year’s award recipients. Their stories of bravery and commitment to others in need are a true testament to the great work going on by everyday heroes in our community,” said Bill Earley, Regional CEO of the American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties. “It is a true honor to celebrate their selfless acts of courage and dedication to those in need and to our community.”

The 2016 Real Heroes honorees include:

Jim and Robin Madaffer – Adult Honorees

Presented by Kaiser Permanente

For years, Jim Madaffer has been a passionate advocate for the increased widespread use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs). On their way home one Sunday afternoon, Jim and his wife Robin saw a man unconscious on the side of the road. A bystander was trying to obtain help. Jim and Robin immediately jumped into action, initiating CPR and deploying the AED in their trunk. Working as a team, they were able to revive the victim and keep him stable until first responders arrived. The man they helped save, a father of two, made a full recovery.

Amy Silveira – Animal Welfare Honoree

Presented by Cox Business

Inspired to help humans and dogs alike, Amy is the driving force behind the Animal Safehouse Program (ASP) at Rancho Coastal Humane Society. Originally, ASP existed solely to serve pets of domestic violence victims. Today, Amy also provides assistance for the pets of veterans, active duty military, seniors, families in crisis, people affected with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and anyone with a need for temporary or permanent care for their pets. Amy has also added the Healing Species curriculum to ASP. Healing Species takes rescue dogs to elementary schools and works with children who have been mentally and physically abused. Amy is now working with the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services to deliver the Healing Species message to children throughout the county.

 Ready Carlsbad Business Alliance (RCBA) – Community Partner Honoree

Presented by U.S. Bank

Disasters can, and do, strike suddenly. The mission of RCBA is to promote business emergency preparedness, continuity of operations and community recovery through services, educational programs and cooperative partnerships. RCBA has grown and evolved from providing employee and business preparedness information and support, to providing humanitarian assistance during disasters, actively participating in the preparedness, response and recovery planning for the Carlsbad community, and testing and vetting state-of-the-art technologies to enhance community information-sharing during disasters.

 Dallas Higgins and Joe Zakar – Fire and Rescue Honorees

Presented by San Diego City Firefighters Local 145

Last year, Firefighters Dallas Higgins and Joe Zakar were among first responders called to a home fire in the Mount Hope area. When they arrived, they were alerted that three children were trapped inside the home. Higgins immediately entered the home and found one victim who could not be saved. With conditions deteriorating, he located one of the younger children, picked him up, and handed him out the window to Zakar. Then, Zakar entered the same bedroom of the home, and despite worsening fire and smoke conditions, found the third child. He passed her out the window to safety. Both children were immediately transported to the hospital and admitted in critical condition. They are still recovering. Higgins’ and Zakar’s quick-thinking and selfless efforts helped save the children’s lives.

Officers Adrian Hirales and Stephen Singh, El Centro Police Department – Law Enforcement Honorees

Presented by Wawanesa Insurance

El Centro Police Department Officer Adrian Hirales was patrolling one night when he noticed a suspicious circumstance call show up on his computer. He arrived on scene in less than a minute and immediately noticed flames coming from a residence and heard a female calling for help. He quickly learned that the woman’s husband was still inside the house, which was rapidly filling with smoke. Officer Stephen Singh arrived moments after Officer Hirales. Both officers immediately sprang into action and forced their way into the house filled with dense smoke. They found him in a back bedroom, quickly shattered a sliding glass window and carried the man out of the house to paramedics. Together, the officers helped save the life of the man trapped inside the home.

Joshua Cardona – Military Honoree

Presented by Sycuan Casino

Staff Sergeant Joshua Cardona, a Chief Drill Instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego, was driving on the interstate when he came upon an overturned vehicle. He pulled over and quickly assessed the situation. Joshua reacted quickly to the smell of gas and recognized the rapidly deteriorating situation. He pried the vehicle door open, and pulled the accident victim from the vehicle. He then kept bystanders away from the hazardous area and safeguarded the scene until the first responders arrived, ensuring the safety of the victim and others at the scene of the crash.

Grace Morgan and Isabelle Heinken - Youth Honorees

Presented by SDG&E

On Saturday, June 4, sixth graders Grace Morgan and Isabelle Heinken were enjoying a day at Coronado beach in an area unpatrolled by lifeguards when they heard a young boy yelling for help. They could see he was pulled past the surf zone by a rip current. Grace’s dad, a Navy SEAL, had trained the girls on how to rescue a drowning victim. Together, Isabelle and Grace swam out to the boy and pulled him toward the shore. They were able to get to an area where they could touch the bottom, holding onto the boy tightly. When they got closer to shore, the boy’s mother ran to them, thanking Isabelle and Grace and hugging her son tightly. Thanks to Grace’s and Isabelle’s quick thinking, they were able to save the young boy’s life.

Kathi Anderson – Wendell Cutting Humanitarian Award Honoree

Presented by Ford Motor Company

In 1997, Kathi Anderson co-founded Survivors of Torture, International (SURVIVORS) to facilitate the healing of torture survivors and their families, educate the public about torture and its consequences, and advocate for the abolition of torture. Since its inception, SURVIVORS has helped torture survivors recover from their traumas through a holistic program including mental health, psychiatry, social services and medical case management. In 1998, with no paid staff, SURVIVORS treated 53 clients. Since then, SURVIVORS has served approximately 1,900 men, women and children who have fled from more than 80 countries. Under Kathi’s leadership, SURVIVORS remains the only accredited torture treatment center in San Diego County. The agency provides a wide variety of services to an often hidden and invisible population, and helps torture survivors recover from severe traumas and move toward a life of hope and health.

The Real Heroes Breakfast takes place on Friday, Oct. 7, 2016 at 7:30 a.m. aboard the USS Midway Museum. For more information, or to purchase individual tickets or sponsorships, 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, YouTube and Twitter.       

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