Chicago Police Officer Lourdes Nieto Honored as American Red Cross 2016 Law Enforcement Hero

IL-Law-Enforcement-Award(CHICAGO, IL) – For young people who’ve been abused and traumatized, Lourdes Nieto gives them hope. At a safe house in Chicago for young girls and teens, the Chicago police officer is working to stop human trafficking in the community.

“It’s never been about what they’ve been through – if they want to share, that’s their process,” she said. “Recovery shouldn’t be reliving their story over and over again.”

Many of the stories are the same for the young people she helps, who were sold into prostitution and pornography by people they trusted. The commonalities they share are vulnerability, neglect and low self-esteem. Police and law enforcement officers are some of the last people they trust, but Lourdes has been able to break down those barriers.

“They’re used to people exploiting them, pimped out by boyfriends, gang members, teachers, even their own family members – people who were supposed to protect them and then sell them for sex in exchange for drugs or money,” she said. “Their trust was at zero, but you can rebuild it when they see that you care.”

A 12-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, Lourdes joined the force in 2003, patrolling the Grand Crossing neighborhood on the city’s South Side. She responded to robberies and homicides, but it was the girls on the street and those who were recovered in raids that opened her heart to stop human trafficking.

Lourdes brings her own 16-year-old daughter on safe house visits to cook meals and interact with girls whose lives took a drastically different turn. She wants her daughter to see it’s a tough world but also a compassionate one. She teaches anti-trafficking courses at the Pilsen library and hopes to bring more awareness and training to schools, as well as to her fellow police officers. She also wants others in the community to speak up.

“If you see something that doesn’t seem right, say something,” she said. “Call us at the Chicago Police Department, so victims don’t fall through the cracks and they are not forgotten.”

The Law Enforcement Award is presented by Motorola Solutions Foundation to a professional police officer(s) or related law enforcement official(s) who exhibited heroism either in response to an emergency situation or through an ongoing commitment to the community.

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is honoring local people who demonstrated acts of heroism in the community at the organization’s 14th annual Heroes Breakfast, Thursday, April 28 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave. For more information: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/local/il/chicago/American-Red-Cross-Honors-Local-Heroes.

 Written by: Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

 

Mike Roberson Honored as American Red Cross 2016 Good Samaritan Hero

IL-Good-Samaritan-Award(CHICAGO, IL) – Mike Roberson experienced a death in his family and a fire in his home the same week. Those two tragedies could have made him ignore a car accident happening in front of him, but Mike put his grief aside when yet a third catastrophe came his way. His American Red Cross training kicked in, helping him rescue a family whose van had overturned in a pond off Interstate 57.

While in Mississippi for his uncle’s funeral, Mike’s fiancé called to tell him a fire destroyed the home they shared with Mike’s six-year-old daughter in Naperville. They lost a beloved pet in the fire, but they were ok and were staying with a relative. Before he left to drive back home to Illinois, Mike’s aunt packed some of his uncle’s clothes to replace those he had lost in the fire.

As Mike was on his way home, he watched in disbelief as a van spun out of control and went out of sight on the dark, slippery road south of Champaign. He pulled his car over and attempted to call 911, but was disconnected. His next instinct was to help anyone who was hurt, so he grabbed a flashlight and followed the sounds of a woman’s cries to help save her children. The van had rolled down an embankment and landed upside down in a pond. Mike recalled seeing little hands reaching out from the broken windows. One by one, he pulled out four kids and heard the woman yell there were more. He eventually pulled out four more surviving members of the family.

Trained in first aid and CPR from the Red Cross, Mike showed an older daughter how to help her mother who wasn’t breathing. He grabbed his uncle’s warm clothes from his car to prevent the rest of the family from going into shock from being exposed to the cold water.

“It must have been some divine intervention that I was put behind that van,” Mike said. “Deep down that training made a world of difference. I just knew what I had to do.”

Mike lost his phone in the pond as he pulled the family members out of the van, but first responders were able to ping his location and send paramedics.

A few days later while Mike and his family picked up the pieces from their burned home, he received a call to attend the funeral for the patriarch of the family who didn’t survive the accident. It was the second funeral he attended in a month.

“I hugged and shook so many hands,” he said. “It was the best healing experience and now we’re connected. We all know loss, but sometimes it brings people together.”

The Good Samaritan Award is presented by USG to an outstanding individual(s) who courageously and selflessly responded to an unusual, significant or unexpected crisis.

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is honoring local people who demonstrated acts of heroism in the community at the organization’s 14th annual Heroes Breakfast, Thursday, April 28 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave. For more information: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/local/il/chicago/American-Red-Cross-Honors-Local-Heroes.

 Written by: Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

Diane Calamaras Honored as American Red Cross 2016 Blood Services Hero

IL-Blood-Services-Award(CHICAGO, IL) – When young patients with blood disorders and their families come to Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital for their regular hemoglobin treatments, they can count on seeing a familiar face. Many have grown up knowing Diane Calamaras, APN, as the nurse practitioner who’s been at their side since their first blood transfusion.

“Without these treatments, they would not be able to have a good, quality life like the rest of us,” Diane said. “Being able to help them achieve a healthier and more normal life is very gratifying.”

Diane treats up to 70 patients with chronic illnesses each month, facilitating as many as 1,000 blood transfusions a year for infants as young as two months old to adults. They suffer from blood disorders like sickle cell disease, thalassemia and acute anemia. Her patients’ bodies cannot make normal red blood cells, which are necessary to carry oxygen around the body and enable proper growth and development.

“Diane is a hero to her patients, simply because she cares,” said Dr. Alexis Thompson, Hematology Section Head at Lurie Children’s Hospital. “Whether it is a family who is coping with their infant who may be receiving the very first of what will likely be a lifetime of transfusions, or an older child whose transfusions ensure they can remain active without other disease-related complications, Diane provides reassurance, education and compassionate care.”

When patients come to Diane for their regular transfusions, which can be as often as twice a month, they are fatigued, pale and may have debilitating pain. Diane gives them lifesaving blood that puts warm color back in their face and makes them feel better again for a little while. When they see Diane they know they have a friend who’s with them for the long haul.

Diane’s been doing this work at the Lurie Children’s Hospital blood transfusion center since 2002 and has 30 years of nursing experience. She started her medical career as a candy striper when she was a teenager and also worked in nursing homes, but children are where her heart is, and that’s why for most of her career she has served in pediatric care.

“I love what I do. I love that I can help people,” she said. “I never wanted to be anything other than a nurse.”

The Blood Services Award is presented by Walgreens to an individual(s) or organization who promotes community blood donation awareness and helps to build the community blood supply.

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is honoring local people who demonstrated acts of heroism in the community at the organization’s 14th annual Heroes Breakfast, Thursday, April 28 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave. For more information: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/local/il/chicago/American-Red-Cross-Honors-Local-Heroes.

 Written by: Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

David D. Hiller Honored with American Red Cross 2016 Heritage Award

IL-Heritage-Award(CHICAGO, IL) – In recognition of a long-standing commitment to Chicagoland communities, the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is proud to honor the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and its President and Chief Executive Officer, David D. Hiller, with the Heritage Award.

The McCormick Foundation has a notable history of partnering with the Red Cross to improve lives and transform communities. For decades, the McCormick Foundation has honored the intent and value of its benefactor, Colonel Robert R. McCormick – a citizen soldier, crusading publisher and philanthropist who deeply cared for the city. In fact, Colonel McCormick himself was a supporter of the Red Cross, dating back to World War I.

Since then, the McCormick Foundation has time and again come to the aid of Chicagoans in need. In 2013 and again in 2015, when a series of tornadoes ripped through Illinois, ravaging homes and businesses, the Foundation stepped forward with grants of more than $2 million raised from community donations and Foundation financial matches to help hard-hit communities pick up the pieces and recover from the destructive storms.

“When disaster devastates communities, it is our mission to show people they are not alone and give them the help they need to move forward,” said Celena Roldán, Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois. “The support of the McCormick Foundation played a critical role in allowing us to do just that.”

Last year, under the leadership of Hiller, the McCormick Foundation celebrated 60 years of fostering communities of educated, informed and engaged citizens. In recognition of its anniversary, the Foundation partnered with a number of Chicagoland non-profit organizations to build support for their causes in a forward-thinking manner. The special year-long initiative addressed the growing need to help children, adults and families of Chicago’s most underserved neighborhoods flourish and prosper.

Under Hiller’s leadership, the McCormick Foundation has also made significant investments to help improve early care and education for children in Illinois. This commitment has enabled Illinois to achieve significant milestones, including being one of the first states in the nation to design and pass legislation requiring principals at pre-kindergarten schools to have a pre-K to 12 principal certificate.

Hiller was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the McCormick Foundation in 2009. He is an engaged member of the community, serving on the boards of the Chicago History Museum, The Field Museum and the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. He is also a member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the Commercial Club of Chicago and the Economic Club of Chicago.

The Heritage Award is given to an individual whose leadership and actions greatly enhanced the welfare of our community.

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is honoring local people who demonstrated acts of heroism in the community at the organization’s 14th annual Heroes Breakfast, Thursday, April 28 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave. For more information: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/local/il/chicago/American-Red-Cross-Honors-Local-Heroes.

 Written by: Deepa Sampat,  Resource Development Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

Daniel Ivankovich, MD, Honored as American Red Cross 2016 Community Impact Hero

IL-Community-Impact-Award(CHICAGO, IL) – An 80-year-old man recently showed up at a OnePatient clinic in Chicago. He had been pushed down the stairs of his apartment building and suffered a broken arm. With his good arm, he held out a cup of coins and said that’s all he could afford to pay. Regardless of their ability to pay, Dr. Daniel Ivankovich welcomes all patients who need help.

There are 206 bones in the human body, and Dr. Ivankovich has treated thousands of them during his 20-year medical career as an orthopedic surgeon. In 2010, he co-founded the non-profit OnePatient Global Health Initiative. He and his medical team, known as “The Bone Squad,” perform more than 600 surgical procedures a year, healing 100,000 local people with a variety of injuries in three clinics across Chicago.

“Every day we operate and provide care to immigrants and people of minority populations who are unfortunately ignored by the medical system, discriminated against by insurance companies, or have no insurance,” he said. “There is a disparity in the city for people to get basic medical care.”

Dr. Ivankovich relates to his patients on many levels. An immigrant himself, he was born in Croatia and moved to Chicago with his family as a young boy. In high school he excelled at basketball, earning a college scholarship until a knee injury ended his athletic career and required him to eventually undergo 13 surgical procedures. He turned in his sneakers for scrubs, went to medical school, and became a surgeon in the city where his family made their home.

Dr. Ivankovich vows to treat patients in his own backyard regardless of their ability pay. They arrive with gunshot wounds, worn joints, crooked spines, fractures and other injuries, which, if left untreated, could be life-threatening.

“My priorities are here in Chicago,” he said. “This is my community and I took an oath to help people who need it most. I work every day to give hope to a hopeless situation. It’s incredible when you see people taking their lives back and owning their health and wellness. There’s no greater feeling in the world.”

The Community Impact Award is presented by Northern Trust to an individual(s) who displays leadership and commitment to his or her community by making a positive, noticeable and significant impact in society.

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is honoring local people who demonstrated acts of heroism in the community at the organization’s 14th annual Heroes Breakfast, Thursday, April 28 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave. For more information: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/local/il/chicago/American-Red-Cross-Honors-Local-Heroes.

 Written by: Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

Illinois National Guardsmen Honored as American Red Cross 2016 Emergency Medical Assistance Heroes

IL-Emergency-Medical-Assistance-Award-2(CHICAGO, IL) – On May 13, 2015, Sergeant First Class Tony Genovese and Staff Sergeant Reserve Jeremy Adkins watched a car spiral into the air and catch fire at a busy intersection in the South Loop. As combat veterans and active members of the Illinois National Guard, the medical training they learned in the military helped save lives.

“Jeremy shouted, ‘We need to help these people!’” Tony said. “So we jumped out of our car and ran to help. We didn’t know what to expect or how bad it would be.”

When the driver of a Buick tried to pass a Jeep at a high rate of speed, he lost control and hit the vehicle and then the median. Tony and Jeremy watched the Buick roll at least three times before it landed in the intersection of Roosevelt Road and Columbus Drive.

Jeremy first attended to two women in the Jeep who were shaken up, but seemed ok. Moments later, he joined Tony at the Buick, which was in bad shape. The passenger had gotten out and was walking in a daze, while the driver appeared in shock and was struggling and yelling inside the car. Then the driver went unconscious, increasing the severity of an already dangerous situation.

“There was definitely a sense of urgency now as smoke was coming out of the hood and flames started to rise,” Tony said. “We knew there was a small amount of time to get him out.”

Even in an urban environment, Tony and Jeremy were trained for this type of rescue. They were taught while deployed to Afghanistan, when their own convoy was under fire, to get their comrades away from the immediate threat, and then stabilize and treat any injuries.

After failed attempts from both men to kick the window out, Tony found the window rolled down just enough to fit his fingers in, and he pulled the window out, breaking it. This allowed the men to pull the driver away from the burning car and the oil and fluid that saturated the street. They used their hands to brace the driver’s neck until paramedics arrived. The driver survived because of their quick response and first aid.

The two Guardsmen, both from the Chicago area, met while deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 and remained friends after returning home. Both remain active in the military.

A recruiter for the National Guard, Tony tells candidates to always be ready. “If you’re at the right place, at the right time, then do the right thing,” he said.

The Emergency Medical Assistance Award is by presented by Motorola Solutions Foundation to an individual(s) who provided lifesaving medical assistance a person or people in need during a time of crisis.

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is honoring local people who demonstrated acts of heroism in the community at the organization’s 14th annual Heroes Breakfast, Thursday, April 28 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave. For more information: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/local/il/chicago/American-Red-Cross-Honors-Local-Heroes.

 Written by: Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

Samer Attar, MD, Honored as American Red Cross 2016 Global Citizenship Hero

IL-Global-Citizenship-Award(CHICAGO, IL) – In the basement of a nondescript building halfway around the world, Dr. Samer Attar risks his life to save others. Even as bombs go off a few feet outside the secret makeshift hospital in Syria, he keeps a steady hand in the operating room. For many innocent civilians who are causalities of their nation’s civil war, Dr. Attar and his medical team are their only hope for survival.

“There were some nights it felt like the screaming never stopped, and there were some days we never left the operating room,” Dr. Attar said. “I operated on children shot by snipers in front of their parents, civilians who had bone fragments of obliterated bystanders embedded in their skin. The day before I left, a little boy whose crushed legs had been amputated asked me to bring him prosthetic limbs if I ever returned.”

With just a backpack of scrubs and his toothbrush, Dr. Attar, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Northwestern Medicine, takes a plane to Turkey and walks across the Syrian border into a war zone. From there, a driver navigates him past checkpoints and sniper alleys to the underground hospitals.

Through the Syrian American Medical Society and Doctors Without Borders, Dr. Attar, who’s been practicing medicine for nearly a decade, has made several medical mission trips to help in field centers in Jordan and underground hospitals in Syria. These facilities are kept secret because hospitals and medical workers are intentionally targeted during air strikes.

Many Syrian medics and aid workers have been kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured and killed, but Dr. Attar is willing to take substantial risk to help the sick and injured. The real danger, he says, is the one against humanity.

“Humanitarian efforts are failing in Syria because access to those who need help is threatened, restricted or denied,” he said. “The world outside is falling apart and we’re in the operating room piecing people back together.”

Dr. Attar said that the Syrian doctors who refuse to abandon their posts are challenged by limited resources of basic supplies like medicine and gauze. They are also faced with shortages of blood, needed to replenish the survivors whose blood is spilled in the streets.

“There are millions of innocent Syrian men, women and children who are sick, starving, displaced or injured, either from deliberate humanitarian blockades or aerial bombardment,” he said. “But I met a lot of good people inside Syria risking their lives to help them. You can’t save everyone, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying.”

The Global Citizenship Award is presented by NES Rentals to an individual(s) who volunteered or worked to meet the needs of the world’s potentially vulnerable populations by building safer, more resilient communities and providing needed relief.

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is honoring local people who demonstrated acts of heroism in the community at the organization’s 14th annual Heroes Breakfast, Thursday, April 28 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave. For more information: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/local/il/chicago/American-Red-Cross-Honors-Local-Heroes.

 Written by: Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

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