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Red Cross Announces 2016 Real Heroes Breakfast Honorees

Santa Rosa, CA (March 10, 2016) — The American Red Cross of the California Northwest will be honoring the courageous acts of inspirational community members at its 13th Annual Real Heroes Breakfast. Table sponsorships and individual tickets are still available for the event. Registration begins at 7 a.m. and the program begins at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 21, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Rohnert Park.

A committee of local community leaders selected the 2016 California Northwest Red Cross Real Hero Award recipients based on the degree to which their acts of heroism uphold the values of the Red Cross and leave a lasting and positive impact on the residents of Lake, Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma counties. The following is a list of the heroes who will be honored and a detailed description of their heroism is at the bottom of the release.

  • Law Enforcement Hero: Sheriff Tom Allman – Ukiah
  • Medical Hero: Dr. Abdul Harris – Santa Rosa
  • Military Hero: Peter Cameron – Cloverdale
  • Rescue Professional Hero: Jim Wright – Lower Lake
  • Education Hero: Becky Fein – Monte Rio
  • Animal Hero: Dr. Jeffrey Smith – Middletown
  • Environment Heroes: Keary and Sally Sorenson – Sebastopol
  • Act of Courage Heroes: Lisa and Troy Lunsford – Lakeport
  • Humanitarian – Adult Heroes: Dana and Michael Bryant – Santa Rosa
  • Humanitarian – Youth Hero: Max Nunley – Santa Rosa

 

The 13th annual Real Heroes Breakfast is presented by St. Joseph Health System. The breakfast’s Honorary Chair is Todd Salnas, President of St. Joseph Health Sonoma County. The Selection Committee Chairmen are Walt Mickens, President and CEO of Queen of the Valley Medical Center, and Daniel Dwyer, Regional Vice President, both of Mission Integration of Queen of the Valley Medical Center. The Breakfast will be emceed by Ted Williams, a radio personality at KZST 100.1.

The Real Heroes Breakfast is a signature event for the local Red Cross chapter, benefitting the lifesaving programs and services that the chapter provides in support of nearly 1 million people in that area of California. For more information about the event and to purchase tickets, please go to: redcross.org/calnwheroes2016.

About American Red Cross of the California Northwest

With office locations in Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma counties, the American Red Cross is a non-profit, humanitarian organization that depends on the generous contributions of time and money from residents and companies to provide services and programs that help our community to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. For more information, visit our web site at redcross.org/calnw or call us at 1-707-577-7600. You may also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

2016 CALIFORNIA NORTHWEST RED CROSS REAL HEROES 

Law Enforcement Hero: Sheriff Tom Allman – Ukiah

Sponsored by Merrill Lynch

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman has been leading a team of nurses and staff on a variety of projects designed to improve the lives of mentally ill inmates. Sheriff Allman's advocacy for the mentally ill is deeply personal, as his own brother took his life ten years ago. In the wake of that tragedy, Allman made a promise to his mother that he would do everything he could to help the mentally ill. Because of his leadership, programs designed to identify at-risk individuals — and help them with socialization skills — are now in place in the county jail.

Medical Hero: Dr. Abdul Harris – Santa Rosa

Sponsored by St. Joseph Health System

Spending most of his youth in a Compton neighborhood rife with both gangs and drugs, Dr. Abdul Harris overcame many obstacles to become a successful surgeon, a respected volunteer and a mentor to youth. Serving as chairman of the Surgery Department at Memorial Hospital, Dr. Harris generously donates his time to Operation Access. He is also a regular presenter in science classes at Piner High, where he shares his story and experiences. Not only does Dr. Harris encourage students to shadow him at Memorial, he is an important role model, proving to students that obstacles do not have to hold them back.

Military Hero: Peter Cameron – Cloverdale

Sponsored by Sonoma Raceway

In 1974, Vietnam War veteran Peter Cameron, along with a handful of fellow vets, formed the veterans aid group Flower of the Dragon; with headquarters in a laundromat and a budget of $9,000 per year, the group had modest beginnings. Because of Cameron’s leadership, the Flower of the Dragon group eventually evolved into Veterans Resource Centers of America — an organization with an annual budget of $7 million that serves more than 15,000 veterans in California, Nevada, and Arizona. The original Flower of the Dragon organization was recognized by President Carter during his administration, and Cameron has continued to advocate for vets through advisory work done with the White House and various government agencies.

Rescue Professional Hero: Jim Wright – Lower Lake

Sponsored by Queen of the Valley

Jim Wright, Battalion Chief at CalFire, is being honored for his role in saving the lives of four firefighters who were among the early responders to the catastrophic Valley Fire in fall 2015. The firefighters, who had been lowered by helicopter onto the ground on Cobb Mountain, were among the firefighters trying to contain the blaze in its early stages; when the fire mushroomed in size, the four found themselves trapped and in great danger. Risking his own safety, Wright responded to their mayday call by driving a truck and crew up the mountain to find and successfully rescue the four men.

Education Hero: Becky Fein – Monte Rio

Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente

Becky Fein is the cofounder of the Powerful Voices Project, which creates short video profiles of people who have experienced sexual assault. Through her videos, Fein — who is a sexual assault survivor herself — is shattering myths about the subject, including who it involves and what form it takes. In the process, Fein is showcasing the resiliency of people who have endured rape, abuse, molestation and other forms of sexual assault. Fein, who also teaches in the Santa Rosa Junior College Health Education Department, sees survivor empowerment as a means to enhance the conversation around the issue of sexual assault and its survivors — and in the process, prevent future violence.

Animal Hero: Dr. Jeffrey Smith – Middletown

Sponsored by AmericanAg Credit

Because of the generous and selfless actions of Middletown veterinarian Jeffrey Smith, more than 800 rescued animals were treated during or after the devastating Valley Fire. Dr. Smith, his son and a friend not only searched for and rescued many domestic and wild animals, Smith's hospital became a center for others to take in animals that were found. Veterinarian service and treatments, medicines, food, and shelter were provided at no cost, and Dr. Smith's generosity helped ensure that the animals were returned to their homes or relocated.

Environment Heroes: Keary and Sally Sorenson - Sebastopol

Sponsored by PG&E

As the owners of Everclean North, Keary and Sally Sorenson could be expected to be passionate environmental advocates. But for more than 20 years, they've also proven to be impactful environmental stewards. When a cleanup crew is organized, there's a good chance the Sorensons will be there to get their hands dirty. While cleaning beaches, waterways, riverbanks and home encampments, the Sorensons have collected between 600 and 700 pounds of trash — and that's in a single month. And if that isn't enough of an environmental commitment, they also have been trained by the Gulf of the Farralones Marine Sanctuary — and have been assigned to monitor the bird health of Marshall Gulch Beach.

Act of Courage Heroes: Lisa and Troy Lunsford – Lakeport

Sponsored by Sutter Regional Medical Center and Sutter Lakeside Hospital

Lisa Lunsford, Area Manager for Sequoia Senior Solutions in Lakeport, and her husband Troy displayed tremendous courage during the Valley Fire, putting themselves at risk to rescue two elderly women from their homes. When Lisa found out that both women were still in their residences, and in grave danger, she and Troy insisted that they be escorted to the homes of the two women. The Lunsfords were initially told that no one was permitted to go back into that particular area, but their persistence paid off when the two women were safely evacuated.

Humanitarian – Adult Heroes: Dana and Michael Bryant – Santa Rosa

Sponsored by Silver Oak/Twomey

In 2011, Dana and Michael Bryant founded the non-profit Crossing the Jordan Foundation as a long-term residential program for women, including mothers with children, who have been victims of abuse, homelessness and/or addictions. Their commitment to this cause initially began with the couple walking their community, literally going "door-to-door" to ask for donated items; today, the couple's dream has expanded to include three retail locations and three residential locations. Even more impressive is the fact that the company is fully operated and managed by the program's residents.

Humanitarian – Youth Hero: Max Nunley – Santa Rosa

Sponsored by Jackson Family Wines

In the midst of a busy birthday swim party, Boy Scout Max Nunley, a 15-year-old freshman at the Rincon Valley Christian School, was alert enough to notice a toddler face down at the deep end of the pool. Max jumped into the pool, lifted the toddler’s head from the water and pulled him to the edge while 911 was called. Due to Nunley's awareness and quick-thinking, the child was soon breathing again and has completely recovered.