Christine Welch, Communications Director
18th Annual Real Heroes Awards to be held virtually on Friday, Sept. 25
SAN DIEGO – September 24, 2020 – The American Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties is pleased to announce the local heroes that will be honored at its 18th Annual Real Heroes Awards on Friday, September 25 from 9:00 a.m. -10:00 a.m. For the first time in the history of the Real Heroes Awards, the event will be held virtually online and can be streamed by the public at sdheroes.givesmart.com.
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.
“This year more than ever, stories of help and hope are what we need to hear. We can’t wait to share the stories of this year’s Real Heroes,” said Sean Mahoney, Regional CEO of the American Red Cross Southern California Region. “Each hero being celebrated has their own incredible story, and we know that everyone who watches this year’s event will be uplifted and inspired.”
The coronavirus pandemic has further exemplified the need for financial support to ensure the Red Cross can fulfill its promise of providing safe, reliable blood—on demand—for people in need. Thanks to the generosity of event sponsor CIT Bank, donations made on the Real Heroes Awards Give Smart website will be matched, dollar for dollar up to $10,000, in support of Red Cross Blood Services.
This year’s Real Heroes Awards is generously sponsored by Hometown Hero sponsor San Diego Gas & Electric and co-presenting sponsors CIT Bank, San Diego State University and U.S. Bank along with numerous other sponsors at the regional, community and neighborhood levels.
2020 Real Heroes Honorees:
***Click here to download hero photos***
Animal Welfare Award: Chopper the Biker Dog
San Diego’s beloved Chopper the Biker Dog and his owner Mark Shaffer have made it their mission to spread love and joy to those who need it most. Chopper uses his fiery passion for motorcycles, bandanas and killer kindness to spread love into the community. For many years, Chopper and his dad have traveled countless miles across San Diego County, bringing positivity, compassion and smiles to everyone they meet.
Fire-Rescue Award: San Diego Fire-Rescue Department – Firefighters of Engine 22 and Law Enforcement Award: Officer Jonathan Wiese, San Diego Police Department
On June 13, 2020 members of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and the San Diego Police Department worked together to save the lives of a family involved in a tragic incident at Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach, San Diego. Captain Tony Jeffreys, Engineer Rob Craig, Firefighter/Paramedic Jens Brombach and Firefighter Darryl Harris with SDFD Engine 22, and SDPD Officer Jonathan Wiese, jumped into action to save two toddlers and their father, whose vehicle careened off the cliffs and into the water below.
Gift of Life Award: Jim Ehrlichmann
Have you or someone you know received lifesaving blood products in the San Diego area? If so, it may have been delivered by James (Jim) Ehrlichmann. Jim has delivered over 10,000 units of blood products, accomplishing this incredible feat by volunteering hundreds of hours as an American Red Cross Blood Transportation Specialist. Himself a blood donor, Jim continues to volunteer each week, delivering the precious gift of life to local patients in need.
Community Partner Award: Julio Perez
When COVID-19 began to affect local business, and many struggled to make ends meet, Julio Perez took matters into his own hands to ensure his family was taken care of and that the jobs and livelihoods of many restaurant industry workers in San Diego were protected. Julio used his skills to benefit the community, and help local businesses during their time of need.
Good Samaritan Award: Chris Hamilton Family
On June 12, 2020, California Highway Patrol Officer Chris Hamilton, his family and family friends were driving home to San Diego from a family vacation in Texas when the unimaginable occurred. Traveling late at night on a remote road in New Mexico, they came across a serious vehicle accident, and worked together to help rescue the victims, while maintaining safety and security until first responders arrived on the scene.
Humanitarian Award: Dr. Ellen Beck
For over 20 years, Dr. Ellen Beck has helped thousands of patients access comprehensive healthcare services across San Diego through her leadership at the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project. In partnership with the community, the mission of the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project is to provide respectful, empowering, high quality health care for the underserved while inspiring the next generation of health professionals.
Military Award: Perry Yee, Active Valor
Perry Yee is a former Navy SEAL and the founder of Active Valor, a combat veteran-run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in San Diego dedicated to giving new purpose to veterans by pairing them as mentors to children of our nation’s fallen heroes. Perry’s dedication to the military community and to our nation’s Gold Star Children has made a lasting and life-changing impact on veterans and military families throughout San Diego.
Youth Good Samaritan Award: Nolan Mejia, Grocery Grab
Nolan Mejia is the founder of Grocery Grab, a program that aims to help senior citizens and at-risk groups in need during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The Grocery Grab team, made up of high school students in the community, shops for and delivers groceries to the doorsteps of those in need. Grocery Grab is a free service, and any donations or “tips” are given back to the community through the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund.
For more information about this year’s event, or to watch the live-stream on Friday, September 25, visit sdheroes.givesmart.com. Join the conversation online using #SDICRealHeroes.
About the American Red Cross Southern California Region
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 public to perform its mission. The Red Cross Southern California Region proudly serves San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial Counties. In addition to carrying out disaster preparedness and response programs, blood collection, health and safety training, international services programs and supporting the military community, the Southern California Region provides nutritional counseling through its Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program in San Diego and helps communities prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters through its Prepare SoCal and Prepare San Diego initiatives. For more information, please visit redcross.org/SoCal or cruzrojaamericana.org, or connect with us on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram and YouTube.