SAN DIEGO – September 24, 2018 – The American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties is pleased to announce the local heroes that will be honored at its 16th Annual Real Heroes Breakfast on Oct. 12 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 and numerous organizations in several categories. Each hero has their own unique story of helping others in need.
“We are so impressed by the individuals and organizations who will be recognized as Real Heroes at this year’s breakfast and we look forward to honoring their courage, selflessness and service,” said Sean Mahoney, Regional CEO of the American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties. “Our award winners truly demonstrate a willingness to go above and beyond to help those in need. We love that attendees leave this event each year feeling inspired and motivated to make a difference in our community after seeing the stories of these heroes.”
This year’s Real Heroes Breakfast is generously sponsored by San Diego Gas & Electric as the Hometown Hero sponsor and co-presenting sponsors Crux, Sycuan, and US Bank along with numerous other sponsors at the regional, community and neighborhood levels.
The Real Heroes Breakfast takes place on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, at 7:30 a.m. aboard the USS Midway Museum. For more information, or to purchase individual tickets or sponsorships, please visit www.redcross.org/sandiego/realheroes or call (858) 309-1267.
2018 Real Heroes honorees:
Special Award: Cory Iverson, Cal Fire San Diego
Cal Fire San Diego firefighter Cory Iverson was born and raised in Escondido, California. From a young age, he had a passion for the fire service. Cory rose through the ranks as a volunteer before being hired by Cal Fire in 2009. His determination and skill earned him many accolades, including recognition as 2010 Cal Fire Firefighter of the Year. Cory exemplified the professionalism, work ethic, and self-sacrifice for which Cal Fire firefighters are known. In December 2017, Cory tragically lost his life while fighting the Thomas Fire in Ventura County. He was survived by his then-pregnant wife Ashley, their young daughter Evie, and his beloved family, friends, and fellow firefighters. Ashley has since given birth to their second child, Taylor Ivy Frances Iverson.
Adult Award: Ahmad Shorish
Ahmad Hamid Shorish is no stranger to life-threatening situations. As a military interpreter, he worked alongside U.S. Armed Forces in Helmand Province, one of the most dangerous areas in Afghanistan. In January, just six months after settling in El Cajon with his family, Ahmad was faced with danger yet again. A fire broke out in a neighbor’s apartment, destroying everything in its path. Ahmad immediately ran into the burning apartment to rescue his neighbor's baby from the flames. Thanks to his quick-thinking, no lives were lost that day. The Shorish family lost most of their belongings in the fire, and have moved into another apartment in the same complex as they begin to rebuild yet again. Ahmad is only grateful that no one was injured in the fire.
Animal Welfare Award: San Diego Humane Society Humane Law Enforcement Division
San Diego Humane Society’s Humane Law Enforcement Division has protected animals and proudly served the community for 138 years. Humane Law Enforcement officers and the Special Response Team respond during emergencies, often working with the American Red Cross to provide evacuees and their pets with the resources they need. During the Lilac Fire, SDHS teams distributed hundreds of donations of water, food, blankets, beds, crates and towels to people and animals displaced by the fire. They also cared for 460 displaced animals, including nine horses, a turkey and a 600-pound potbelly pig. SDHS team members have even deployed to Houston and Florida to rescue and shelter animals stranded by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and reunite them safely with their families.
Community Partner Award: Carlsbad CERT
Emergencies can strike at any time. That’s why Carlsbad Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) works year-round on critical preparedness and safety initiatives to ensure the well-being of Carlsbad residents during disasters. On December 7, 2017, the Lilac Fire destroyed hundreds of homes as it spread through Northern San Diego County. Carlsbad’s Emergency Operations Center had been monitoring the fire potential hours before it started. When it came time to evacuate residents, a shelter was ready to be opened, stocked with supplies for potential evacuees. Tremendous support from CERT volunteers allowed the shelter to be activated in under two hours. CERT volunteers not only helped set up the shelter, but also tended to hundreds of evacuees by providing supplies such as food and water and assisting evacuees with medical needs.
Fire-Rescue Award: Bruce and Tricia Pollett
October 1, 2017, started off like any other night for husband and wife Bruce and Tricia Pollett. Tragically, it all changed in the blink of an eye. Bruce and Tricia were attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas when shots were fired from the nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel. They came across a woman who was suffering from chest wounds. Even though Bruce himself had been shot in the foot, he and Tricia helped carry the woman out of the line of fire. Once in a safe area, the pair helped the victim’s boyfriend assess her wounds and found a way to slow the bleeding until they could get her to an ambulance. Thankfully, she survived and has since recovered.
Humanitarian Award: Fremmerlid Family and Safe Families for Children
Safe Families for Children is a non-profit organization that provides children with a loving and safe place to stay during times of family crisis. Virginia and Brent Fremmerlid are a host family that have housed over 30 children as part of Safe Families for Children. The Fremmerlids are always ready to take any child in need into their home, at any hour of the day. Virginia and Brent have been a host family for infants, toddlers, twins, and countless other children, sometimes more than once. The Fremmerlids have limitless dedication to the Safe Families for Children program and demonstrate unmatched compassion for each child that stays in their home.
Law Enforcement Award: Patrick Vinson
Sergeant Patrick Vinson may be a retired police officer, but recently he continued to serve the San Diego Police Department in an extraordinary way when he donated a kidney to help SDPD Detective Art Calvert resume a healthy life. Before Sergeant Vinson stepped forward with his donation, Detective Calvert had spent four years on dialysis. While Sergeant Vinson and Detective Calvert were not a donor match, Sergeant Vinson made his kidney available as a living donor. His donation pushed Detective Calvert up the priority list to receive a kidney. This in turn led to a donor match for Detective Calvert. Sergeant Vinson’s gift has affected more than just his kidney recipient and Detective Calvert. It’s affected all their friends, family, and coworkers.
Military Award: Jaqualin Johnson
First Class Petty Officer Jaqualin Johnson was traveling across the Coronado Bridge when she observed a woman standing on the edge of the bridge, about to jump. Jaqualin quickly assessed the situation, got out of her car and rushed toward the woman. Once she reached the woman, she took a calm and cautious approach. She wrapped her arms around the waist of the female and kicked off the wall, causing them to fall safely on the inboard side of the bridge. Jaqualin went beyond the call of duty by risking her own life to save the life of a stranger.
Youth Award: Sophia Righthouse
Sophia Righthouse may be young but she demonstrated courage, maturity, and wisdom beyond her years when disaster struck on November 4, 2017. Sophia and her parents were on their way to an event in Miramar when they saw that a nearby apartment complex was on fire. The family immediately drove toward the plume of smoke and made their way to the burning building. Sophia and her father jumped into action and began evacuating residents while her mother called 9-1-1. Using her training with the Girl Scouts and Miramar Young Marines, Sophia evacuated residents from the complex to a common evacuation point, and provided the briefing for the firefighters that arrived on scene. Once the scene was deemed safe, Sophia and her parents continued on to Miramar, where Sophia had been nominated to receive the Battalion’s Young Marine Award.
Bill Trumpfheller Community Leadership: Brandon Steppe
Brandon Steppe is a transformative force in the lives of local homeless and at-risk teens. He provides a space for teens to escape their challenging living situations and channel their artistic passions by offering them an opportunity to trade their good grades for studio time in a state-of-the-art facility. In turn, their lives are positively impacted in the studios at The David’s Harp Foundation. The David’s Harp Foundation was born out of Brandon’s strong faith, his passion for teens, and his love for music. The foundation aims to inspire, educate and empower homeless youth to achieve academic success through music education, sound engineering and multimedia production. The David’s Harp Foundation boasts, on average, a 22% increase in the overall GPA of their students.
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 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 redcross.org/sandiego or connect with us on Facebook and YouTube and Twitter.