Hometown Heroes: Ordinary People with Extraordinary Hearts

By Jarrett Barrios, Los Angeles Region CEO

On May 10, 2018, I had the pleasure of joining hundreds of local Red Crossers at our 14th Annual Hometown Heroes luncheon. This year’s event was held at the Carson Community Center, in the City of Carson, and it offered the perfect locale to honor 12 heroic acts performed by 23 local individuals. The actions of the honored individuals, or groups of individuals, define why we, at the Red Cross, train people with the knowledge and skills necessary to be ready for any type of emergency.

One of the best parts about this event is that the emphasis is placed on honoring ordinary people; people who in a moment of crisis, bravely stepped forward to help someone else. In many cases, the person or persons helped was a complete stranger and in most cases, the heroic actions of these ordinary people saved lives.

Another component that makes me feel proud to be a part of the Red Cross is the overwhelming support we receive from our community partners. This year, I was humbled to accept, on behalf of the Red Cross in Los Angeles, a donation in the amount of $400,000 from Andeavor. This generous donation, facilitated by the Long Beach Rio Hondo and South Bay Chapter Board’s Philanthropy Chair, Olga Chavez and presented during the luncheon by Andeavor’s own, Tiffany Rau and Brian Sullivan, will purchase a new blood mobile for the region.

Two of the hometown heroes honored were Paul and Jamie Lynn Gallegos, who on October 1, 2017, when a gunman opened fire on a crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Las Vegas Strip, helped to save three lives.  When the gunfire erupted, Paul and his wife Jamie Lynn made it to their truck. As they were driving out of the chaos, a security officer pounded on the glass and asked to put a wounded woman in their truck. The woman had been shot in her cheek and she was bleeding profusely. By the time they made it to a temporary triage area, Paul and Jamie Lynn had a total of three individuals in their truck: one with a gunshot wound in the shoulder, one with a gunshot wound in the foot, and the woman with the gunshot wound in her cheek.

This is just one of the 12 heart-wrenching stories highlighted during last week’s luncheon. We were able to honor people who saved infants and young children from near drownings, co-workers from cardiac arrest, and even an off-duty firefighter who pulled a couple to safety from a burning plane.  All told, we proudly recognized the heroic actions of Angel Aquino, Raylene Armour, Nick Rodriguez, Jason Gallo, Cynthia Navarette, John Meffert, Carlton “Mac” McMiller and Jeremy Garcia, Scott Moore, Hector Ramos, Dan Northrup, Robert Gorr, Laurie Hutton and Lisa Kephart, Corrie Allison, Kim Huynh, Greg Dahlmeier, Captain Keith Mora, Tori Mulitauaopele, Pat Frohn, Hank Cochrane, Dante Powell, Oscar Rodriguez, Joe Flahavan and of course, Paul and Jamie Lynn Gallegos.

Hometown heroes is a wonderful celebration of extreme bravery and selflessness displayed by regular people—people just like you and me. Not only that, we rely on community members to help us find the humble heroes who sometimes disappear after the ambulances head off to the hospitals and the news crews stop recording. If you would like to nominate a hometown hero for next year’s ceremony, please go to: http://www.redcross.org/longbeach.

In addition to Andeavor, I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to all of our 2018 sponsors and supporters, including Big 5 Sporting Goods, and Toyota Auto Body Corp.

And, once again, congratulations to all of our hometown heroes!

Jarrett Barrios is the Chief Executive Officer at the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region.

To learn more about Jarrett Barrios or the America Red Cross Los Angeles Region, visit RedCrossLA.org

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