2015 Honored Heroes

16th Annual Real Heroes Breakfast

Each year, individuals and organizations from our community make a positive impact on the lives of others, whether through a lifesaving action or tireless work to benefit our community.

On April 28th, 2015, American Red Cross of Alaska honored the 2015 Real Heroes, "everyday heroes" who reflect the mission of the American Red Cross by making our community a safer and better place to live and work.

If you know of a local individual or organization that should be recognized for their heroism or exemplary service to our community, nominate them as a 2016 Red Cross Real Hero. Simply go to the "Nominate a Hero" link at the left of this page or Click Here, complete the online form before the December 31th deadline.

There are several hero categories including Alaska Safety, Community Safety, Marine Rescue, Medical Rescue, Workplace Safety, Youth Good Samaritan, Wilderness Rescue, Military Rescue, Adult Good Samaritan and Fire Rescue.

To learn more about the Real Hero award winners from 2015, please watch the video's below.

  • View the 16th Annual Alaska Real Heroes Breakfast Sponsor List

  • Red Cross 2015 Heroes Awards

    Alaska Safety - Trooper Young, Trooper Bitz


    Shelly LaGrou was at home in Washington talking on the phone to her daughter, Cherelle LaGrou, 18 in Alaska. Cherelle had called because she was uncomfortable hiking on the slippery terrain she was on. The mom then heard a scream. And then crashing sounds. Then silence. Her daughter, had fallen from a cliff off the Parks Highway near Denali National Park. That was when Shelly LaGrou began directing her daughter’s rescue from where she was at in Omak, Wash., 2,250 away from the cliff where her daughter was trapped.

    Red Cross Alaska 2015 Heroes Award

    Community Safety – Jack Willard


    Chief Jack Willard was nominated for the Community Safety Hero award for his tireless work to improve fire safety and response in the outlying areas of the west side of Fairbanks by improving water supply resources. The whole west side of Fairbanks is safer for his efforts. Water supply is a limiting resource on almost every structure fire in the outlying areas of Fairbanks and it is not uncommon for fire crews to be held back during fire attack due to a lack of water during operations.

    Red Cross Alaska 2015 Heroes Awards

    Marine Rescue – Christopher Olsen, Brad Badger, Blake Ward


    Twenty-five-year-old Woody Paul of Haines was rescued by another fishing boat in William Henry Bay north of Juneau after his boat the 36-foot, Kyra Dawn began taking on water and then capsized. The boat sank in about 900 feet of water about a mile from shore, according to the Coast Guard. Paul was rescued by another Haines fishing boat; the Gabriella.

    Red Cross Alaska 2015 Heroes Awards

    Medical Rescue – Andrew Busse, Natalie Morgan, Lisa Halverson

    AWARD SPONSORED BY Alaska Regional Hospital

    On Christmas Eve, Andrew and his flight crew flew a Life Med helicopter to medevac an 11year old girl who lost both of her legs in a car accident. The 11 year old survived and it was truly a Christmas Eve miracle.

    Red Cross Alaska Heroes Awards

    Workplace Safety - William Pommarane, Tina Steadman, Alfred Johnson

    AWARD SPONSORED BY ConocoPhillips

    Father's day at the Whilden house in South Anchorage bustled with family members of several generation. A toddler bounced a rubber ball while an elementary age girl clattered across the floor in dress up heels. One way or another, every person is a member of Melvin Coghill's family. He has a total of 68 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Many of them live in Anchorage and were preparing a Father's Day dinner for him. It's a dinner he came close to not having.

    Red Cross Alaska Heroes Awards

    Youth Good Samaritan – Jivan Gordon-Wolfe

    AWARD SPONSORED BY First National Bank Alaska

    Jivan is a super volunteer that is always on the lookout to help in his community. He started Kick-It-Kids for change where he uses his martial arts training (2nd degree black belt) to help draw attention to causes affecting youth. He also held a Make a Difference Day anti-bullying event and has plans for more events in the future and is the bar president for North Star Youth Court and a youth member of the Fairbanks Prevention Coalition. He also helps influence his peers to make better choices for their lives.

    Red Cross Alaska Hero Awards

    Wilderness Rescue – Clifford Benson, Nelson Nungasak, Jim Evikana, Vernon Edwardson


    A man in Alaska says it's a miracle that he survived three days in the wilderness while battling sub-zero temperatures and a wolverine. Craig Johnson was halfway through an 80-mile trek through remote Alaska on Dec. 15 when his snowmobile fell through the ice. He was on his way to visit family for the holidays. "I almost gave up ... But I couldn't give up. I had to do it for my boys, my family," he said. "I think it's a miracle that I'm alive."

    Red Cross Alaska Heroes Awards

    Military Rescue – 11th Rescue Coordination Center - Alaska Air National Guard, 176th Operations Group, 210th Rescue, 211th Rescue, 212th Rescue Squadron


    Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard's 210th, 211th, and 212th Rescue Squadrons medevaced a 25-year-old man from Stoney River Lodge, 35 miles northwest of Sparrevohn, who was injured while snow-machining Feb. 3. The 11th Air Force Rescue Coordination Center was notified by the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation in Bethel after the man was found alone and unconscious near the Stoney River Lodge.

    Red Cross Alaska Heroes

    Adult Good Samaritan – Zachary Bonser

    AWARD SPONSORED BY Providence Health & Services Alaska

    On the night of December 12, 2014 it was about negative 12 degrees at 11:30pm when 5 young men on snow machines became disorientated in the ice fog near the channel between Lake Louise and Lake Susitna and went through the ice. Zach and his father came upon them at about 12:30am after Zach had already assisted another snowmachiner who was stuck in overflow. Zach immediately took charge, assessed their needs and quickly made the decision it would be safer to get them to a cabin and warmed up.

    Red Cross Alaska Heroes Awards

    Fire Rescue - Lucas Saltzman, Araceli Mayers, Rita Riquelme

    AWARD SPONSORED BY Anchorage Firefighters Union Local 1264

    A regular PTO meeting became not regular at all when a fire broke out next to their school. Without thinking twice, parents and staff brought all residents in to their gym and offered them the food and water that had been reserved for the meeting. Everyone from the Principal of the school to the Janitor stayed late, keeping the school open with staff and parents volunteering their time to help the affected families. Some of the residents did not speak much English and staff engaged them in their own language, offering comfort and relief among the chaos.

    Red Cross Alaska Heroes Awards

    Good Neighbor Award - Diane Peterson, Police and Fire Chaplain


    I met Diane at the darkest hour of my life. My precious daughter had just been killed (along with her best friend) after being struck by a drunk driver while walking down a paved path along Abbott Rd. I arrived at the scene looking for the girls when they hadn't arrived home on time. After receiving notification of their death, the APD Sergeant dispatched the Chaplains to assist with my care. I was in shock, disbelief and confusion with such unfathomable news. Diane assisted my family in the first hours, days and months as we tried to cope with our despair. She was instrumental in assisting with communications between APD detectives, the medical examiner’s office, the funeral director, and local media. She shielded my family, allowing us to grieve in private. She assisted in locating resources to support our grief. Prior to our tragedy I hadn't known of the Chaplains service. The service they provide is invaluable to our community as they tirelessly volunteer hundreds of hours of compassionate support to those in need. I am truly blessed to have Diane in my life. She was a gift from God at the worst moment of my life.