Red Cross announces 2014 Real Heroes Breakfast honorees


The American Red Cross, Sonoma, Mendocino & Lake Counties will be honoring the courageous acts of inspirational members of the community at its 11th Annual Real Heroes Breakfast presented by Wells Fargo. The invitation-only event will be held Thursday, April 17 at the Doubletree Hotel in Rohnert Park at 7:30 a.m. The Breakfast is a highlight event in the Red Cross chapter’s calendar as it significantly benefits the continuation of essential disaster aid services and classes the Red Cross provides to support the communities of all three counties.

Heroes are acknowledged in ten categories which highlight the heroic deeds of community members in Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties. The categories include Medical, Humanitarian Adult, Humanitarian Youth, Law Enforcement, Environment, Rescue Professional, Education, Heroic Deed, Military and Animal. Following is a snapshot of the award-winning heroes to be honored at the event as well their stories:

Medical: Sara O'Donnell
Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente
Sara co-founded the Cancer Resource Center of Mendocino County (CRCMC), the first non-facility based cancer resource center from Marin County to the California-Oregon border.

Humanitarian Youth: Riley Orton
Sponsored by Sonoma Raceway
Riley organized numerous drives and fundraisers for children in the region and abroad.

Humanitarian Adult: George Kennedy
Sponsored by Medtronic
George is second biggest contributor of time at the Ukiah Senior Center, spending over 35 hours per week running the lunch program among other duties.

Law Enforcement: Deputy Christopher Chwialkowski, Deputy Nicholas La Velle, and Firefighter/EMT Laura Carr
Sponsored by Eileen Adams
These three first responders rescued a 71-year-old woman whose truck was completely submerged in Clear Lake following a crash.

Environment: Nick Papadopoulos and Gary Cedar
Sponsored by Amy’s Kitchen
Nick and Gary co-founded CropMobster.com, an online platform that connects food producers to hungry consumers through crowd-sourcing on the internet.

Rescue Professional: Paul Bradley, Donald Ricci and Deputy Chris Mahoney
Sponsored by St. Joseph Health System
The three men airlifted several rescue volunteers, trapped on the side of a large cliff, to safety following their nighttime rescue of an injured hiker.

Education: John Bribiescas
Sponsored by Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
John co-founded Schools Plus, a non-profit program developed to save and supplement enrichment programs throughout Santa Rosa schools.

Animal Hero: Chris Kittredge
Sponsored by American AgCredit
Chris has volunteered with Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) for over twenty years, raising dozens of puppies to become service dogs for people with disabilities.

Military: Tim Blair
Sponsored by Merrill Lynch
Tim founded Transformational Sailing in 2002, a program that helps military veterans and others suffering from PTSD.


Heroic Deed: Jason O'Donnell, Heath Blackwell, Ken Butler, Jack Johnson, Robert Winn
Sponsored by Sutter Health
The three men recovered the body of diver Craig Willes two days after rescue crews had given up their search.

The presenting sponsor for the Real Heroes Breakfast is Wells Fargo. Other event sponsors include Pacific Gas and Electric, Jackson Family Wines, St. Joseph Health, Kaiser Permanente, American AgCredit, Amy's Kitchen, Sutter Medical Center, Eileen Adams, Medtronic, Merrill Lynch, The Press Democrat, Sonoma Raceway, North Bay Business Journal, KZST 100.1, and The Ukiah Daily Journal. Table Sponsors are Factory Pipe, Mary's Pizza Shack and Freidman's Home Improvement. The Breakfast will be emceed by Debbie Abrams, a radio personality at KZST 100.1.