LOS ANGELES, November 12, 2020 —The American Red Cross Los Angeles Region honored 13 individuals who demonstrated heroism through extraordinary acts of saving someone’s life. Their courage and humanitarian service were celebrated at the 16th Annual Hometown Heroes Awards on Thursday, Nov. 12.
SEE: Video footage of the 16th Annual Hometown Heroes Awards (LAHeroes.Givesmart.com)
ALSO SEE: Photos of the 2020 Hometown Heroes (Flickr)
Every year since 2005, the Greater Long Beach, South Bay, and Metro and Southeast LA Chapter of the Red Cross shines a spotlight on local heroes who saved a life and made significant and positive differences in their community in the areas of emergency response, disaster preparedness and prevention, or exemplified the Red Cross humanitarian mission in similar ways.
Viewers from across Los Angeles joined the Red Cross on Thursday to celebrate these local heroes and to hear their stories of extraordinary bravery. Visit LAHeroes.Givesmart.com to view the broadcast.
“We know heroes do not wear capes, and these 13 honorees are a testament to that,” said Joanne Nowlin, CEO for the Red Cross in Los Angeles. “Small actions are all it takes to make a dramatic difference in someone’s life. That small act can lead to saving someone’s life. Lifesaving event.”
This year’s Hometown Heroes Awards is generously sponsored by Big 5 Sporting Goods and Phillips 66 and with co-presenting sponsors AALRR, Marathon Petroleum, Total-American Total-Western Spectra, along with numerous other sponsors at the regional, community and neighborhood levels.
The following are the individual heroes’ stories:
Cambria and Maci Lawrence
Valencia High School students and sisters Cambria and Maci Lawrence started a nonprofit organization, Keep the Pressure, where they assembled and provided training for more than 1,200 bleed kits distributed to schools and other organizations. They also provided kits for each of their local sheriff’s station vehicles. During a 2019 school shooting in their district, these kits and information saved lives.
Norwalk Senior Center resident Ed Leon saved fellow resident and friend James Gurule from a choking episode by administering the abdominal thrust maneuver. Leon had also saved his stepdaughter in the same way many years ago. While Leon has never had CPR or first aid training, his instincts and caring attitude have twice helped him save a life.
While attending a children’s swim party on his day off, Long Beach Police Department Officer Gabriel Doby was present when a young girl was pulled out of the pool unconscious and not breathing. Doby provided CPR continuously and kept the girl alive until EMS arrived and administered medical care.
When Kenna took CPR/First Aid classes, she never imagined her emergency skills would save her own daughter’s life. In February 2019 Kenna’s daughter chocked on a piece of steak. By administering abdominal thrusts, Kenna saved her daughter’s life.
Saugus High School choir director Kaitlin Holt was notified of an active school shooting when two students ran into her classroom warning of the danger and seeking refuge. Holt locked her classroom and barricaded the doors, protecting all students inside. Soon after, it was apparent one of the students who sought refuge had been shot. Holt had a “Keep the Pressure” bleed kit on hand and used it. Holt’s actions and the bleed kit saved that student’s life.
Matthew Kang was driving in his neighborhood when he noticed a man lying motionless on the ground. He stopped his car and approached to offer help. He found the individual alive but non-responsive. Kang called 9-1-1 and performed CPR until the Torrance Fire Department EMT personnel arrived to treat the man and transport him to the hospital. Kang and the man he aided have become fond friends.
Marvin enlisted in the Navy in 1942 at the age of 20. His first mission was to the South Pacific in 1943, where he began his fight in World War II as a belly gunner. Adding up all his military tours, Marvin flew 1,700 hours and 114 missions until the end of the war in July of 1945.
Even though Mr. Theroux passed away a few months ago, his legacy and heroics will always be with us.
During a work break at Matt Juranek’s Rose Bowl Aquatic Center lifeguard job, a man swimming laps lost consciousness, prompting Juranek to coordinate and delegate emergency procedures with the other lifeguards, all while conducting CPR until EMS help arrived. Juranek's Red Cross CPR training, along with his quick and coordinated response efforts saved the swimmer from both a cardiovascular incident and drowning.
Michael Kingston and Nicholas McMurray
While performing their building security duties at a high-rise residential complex, Michael Kingston and Nicholas McMurray saw a man climb into a three-story high trash chute in an apparent suicide attempt. Kingston and McMurray grabbed the man’s legs and were able to prevent him from falling long enough for the police and fire department to arrive and take over.
Paul Stephan was on a flight when the attendant asked for medical personnel on board to help a passenger in distress. When no other medical professionals responded, Stephan put his Red Cross EMR training to work until the plane landed and medics could take over.
Phillips 66 – Corporate Hometown Hero
Phillips 66 is a shining example of what companies can do to support American communities and the American Red Cross. Over the last year, Phillips 66 organized several blood drives, fully supported the LA Region’s PrepareLA initiative and organized teams of volunteers to install smoke alarms. Phillips 66 also donated a $10,000 financial gift to help support the L.A. Unified meal distribution project. When wildfires ravaged the west coast and hurricanes pummeled southern U.S. shores, Phillips 66 committed an additional one million dollars to support disaster relief.
About the American Red Cross:
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. For more information, please visit redcross.org/la or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossLA or @CruzRojaLA.