By Steph Errante, Red Cross Volunteer
Every year, Red Crossers in Los Angeles gather to celebrate acts of heroism and those who performed them. On May 10th, the Carson Community Center hosted the Red Cross Los Angeles Region’s 14th Annual Hometown Heroes Luncheon.
Working with many generous sponsors such as BIG 5, Andeavor, Toyota Auto Body Corp and more, the Red Cross was able to bring together an incredible event, including a display put on by the fire department, nurses dressed in vintage Red Cross uniforms, and several Red Cross displays.
When I arrived, the dining hall was filling with guests taking time out of their workday to honor the many men and women whose quick thinking and bravery had changed the lives of those nearby. The luncheon, which was announced by Laura Nieto, highlighted 12 extraordinary stories of courage, featuring 23 heroes accompanied by 10 of the survivors.
As Nieto read the tear jerking, yet uplifting accounts of the near drownings, the life threatening cardiac arrests, and the alarming plane and car crashes, applause filled the air. The whole room watched as a young boy, escorted by two volunteer nurses, walked onto the stage and hung a Hometown Hero medal around his rescuer, Corrie Allison’s neck. Everyone was silent as ex-marine Kim Huynh stood on stage, her incredible life dedicated to helping others being recounted.
After many stories of quick action and successful CPR and AED use, the final heroes were announced. Paul and Jamie Gallegos were present during the Las Vegas Strip massacre back on October 1, 2017, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. When the shooting began, the two made it to their truck unscathed; however they were separated from their three adult sons in the chaos. As they drove away as quickly as possible, they were stopped by security and asked to take an injured woman with them. They stopped a couple more times, taking as many victims as they could. Eventually they made it to safety and were able to get the victims to treatment. Consequently, the couple saved several lives.
In a beautiful, tear filled moment, Paul and Jamie Gallegos were joined on stage by three of the massacre survivors. Once more, applause and cheers filled the room with an undeniable wave of hope, bringing an inspirited close to the luncheon.