Chase Eller Presented with Lifesaving Award for Helping Young Child

Chase Eller was awarded the Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action for helping a young child choking at a restaurant. The national Lifesaving Awards are issued by American Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C. to highlight whenever lifesaving skills are used.

Chase was presented with the award during a recent Red Cross South Central Illinois Chapter Board of Directors meeting.

“Chase’s quick action exemplifies courage and bravery of helping someone during an emergency,” said Dawn Morris, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Serving South Central Illinois. “This young man went above and beyond to help a child in distress and for that he is very deserving of the Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action.”

Since the Lifesaving Awards revival in 2018, the Red Cross is proud to announce we have awarded, 1,507 individuals worldwide and as a result they have helped to save 730 lives.

To learn more about the Red Cross Lifesaving Awards and to find resources including learning a lifesaving skill visit

Written by Communications Manager Drew Brown

Juneteenth: A Historic Day Inspiring Me to Keep Learning

Juneteenth was a day I had never heard of before, until I moved to Texas while I was a teenager. I didn’t hear about it in history class but more so word-of-mouth, among other Black students and on the radio.

Juneteenth is a day that recognizes the ending of slavery in the United States. It has been observed on June 19, since 1866. On that day one year earlier, enslaved people in Texas learned of the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery, though the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed two and a half years earlier in 1863.

In 1980, Juneteenth officially became a holiday in Texas and has since been recognized by 45 other states.

With the day becoming a holiday in Texas during the 1980’s and me not learning about until the 2000’s, it made me wonder is history regional? Or am I not doing enough learning on my own?

I’ve learned to give myself grace when it comes to not knowing everything about Black history. But I open myself up to listening and embracing the stories about this historic day.

I’ve noticed over the years Juneteenth has gained more attention nationwide with celebrations even in my own community here in Illinois and now it has been declared a national holiday!

When I hear the words diversity & inclusion it’s important for me to see it beyond paper but also within the weavings and actions of an organization from outreach, leadership and those we serve. I’m glad I get to witness that every day at the Red Cross.

Written by Regional Communications Manager Drew Brown

Recognized for lifesaving actions

A typical work day for Matt Brewer and Dalton Cordier at the Illinois Association of Realtors office in Springfield, Illinois, turned into a lifesaving day.

On September 12, 2019, Dalton witnessed one of the drivers from the association collapse while completing a delivery.

Trained in American Red Cross Adult First Aid/CPR/AED, he realized the severity of the situation and called 9-1-1 along with alerting colleague Matt Brewer.

Matt, who served as a volunteer firefighter in New Berlin, Illinois, started to perform chest compressions. Both stayed with the driver until emergency crews arrived and continued to provide care for the driver, who survived.

Matt says he was initially shocked by what happened despite serving as a firefighter but he and Dalton are thankful they were able to help.

“I was very humbled, the whole experience was very humbling for sure,” he adds.

During a recent South Central Illinois Board of Directors meeting both men were recognized for their courageousness.

Matt was awarded the American Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action. The award is given to people, who step up in an emergency and help save or sustain a life.

Dalton was awarded the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit. This is the highest award given by the American Red Cross to a person or team of individuals who save or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course.

His certificate bears the signature of the President of the United States, who is the honorary chairman of the American Red Cross, and the signature of the chairman of the American Red Cross.

Both Dalton and Matt exemplify the mission of the Red Cross to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

To learn more about American Red Cross Training Services and to find a first aid training course in your area click here.

Written by Communications & Marketing Intern, Justin Wang

Samantha Alvarez: Delivering Donors Dollars to Those in Need

Samantha Alvarez has been with the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois for over four months. Samantha grew up in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood. Her dad, who was also born in Chicago is of Puerto Rican descent, and her mother immigrated to the United States from Honduras 30 years ago.

Samantha’s work as Lead Development Specialist for Foundation and Individual Giving involves providing support with donor relations, particularly with the Tiffany Circle. Her work with the Red Cross is close to her heart, “…all the work that the organization did to provide relief to Puerto Rico spoke volumes to me, and when the opportunity arose, I was like, this is the place that I definitively want to be a part of…that’s what motivated me to join the Red Cross.”

Samantha Alvarez

As we begin talking about Hispanic Heritage Month, Samantha’s face lights up. This month, she explains, means a lot to her. “…having this month to recognize Latinos and recognize the impact made is something that I just have so much pride in…this month signifies so much for me as a Latina, to celebrate all that we have done, all that we’ve accomplished, all that we have overcome, and all the work that we hope to do,” says Samantha.

As a Latina and as a Red Crosser, Samantha considers that it is her responsibility to let others in the Latino community know about the work of the Red Cross and what the organization does. She believes that it’s through education and empowerment that communities can make strides.

HOW YOU CAN HELP You can help people affected by disasters like storms and countless other crises by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Call, click, or text to give: visit, call 1-800 RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. To donate by check or to a specific cause, please complete this donation form by printing and mailing to your local Red Cross chapter. 

Story written by Isis Chaverri, Regional Marketing & Communications Manager

Volunteer with the Red Cross Illinois River Valley Chapter Discovers Treasures from the Past

These days Red Cross volunteer Kathy Ford might be mistaken for Indiana Jones, with some minor differences. Instead of wearing a fedora, Ford sports a baseball cap. And, her archeological finds aren’t in some far away land, they’re at the Illinois River Valley office in Romeoville.

Two years ago, Ford came across a treasure trove of Red Cross artifacts when she was clearing out a chapter office. Among all the old computers and office furniture, Ford spied a plastic bag stuffed with items. Reaching inside she pulled out a jumpsuit uniform once worn by a Red Cross nurse in the 1970s. Digging deeper, she found something even older: nurse uniforms from World War II.

WWII nurse uniforms

“I’m nosy. I can’t help myself,” says Ford as she discovered even more items including a steamer chest filled with scrapbooks, photographs and old newspaper clippings about the Illinois Red Cross. 

Volunteer Kathy Ford looking at a scrapbook
1954 Northern Illinois tornado aftermath

Many of Ford discoveries are now on display in a conference room at the Illinois River Valley chapter office in Romeoville office for the American Red Cross. The rest are still in a storage room, waiting to be exhibited. Among the finds: a hand-knit military sweater from the 1940s, full page newspaper advertisements about the Red Cross, a tiny handmade nurse doll that might have been pinned to a uniform and photos of a devastating tornado that swept through northern Illinois in 1954. My personal favorite is Red Cross nurse Winifred Bally’s passport during World War II. It has stamps from Iran, Egypt and Brazil.  “This is our history,” explains Ford. “When people see these things, they form an attachment to history, and it keeps them coming back.”

Handmade nurse doll
Red Cross nurse Winifred Bally’s WWII passport
Hand-knit military sweater

Ford and Illinois River Valley Executive Director Brian McDaniel want the historic display to extend into the future. They’re also planning to post pictures of current volunteers in action, along with photos of Red Cross Heroes. “We have over a century of heritage. You don’t want to forget about it,” says McDaniel.

Full page newspaper ad from 1940s

The Illinois River Valley Chapter welcomes help from an artist or an art student who could assist with a display wall in the Romeoville chapter office.  For more information contact McDaniel at

Written by Red Cross Communications Volunteer Diane Eastabrook

Marathoner shares Run Red experience


Leah Cato had never been to Chicago when she joined the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago’s Run Red team, a charity marathon team that offers participants a free spot in the Chicago Marathon if they raise funds for the Red Cross mission. She had been running in the Washington D.C. area for a couple of years, but wanted to do a marathon for charity.  Cato joined the team in 2010, following a desire to give back to society.

“I was searching for a way to make a difference, and running to raise money and awareness for charity has become just that,” Cato said.  

With Run Red, Cato found exactly what she was looking for.  Joining the Run Red team gave her the chance to run for a charity organization that’s internationally renowned for service.

“I’ve always been aware of the Red Cross’ emergency response to large disasters such as hurricanes, or through seeing it in my work abroad,” said Cato. “I’ve seen the impact the Red Cross has on a daily basis with emergency response.”

Giving back is a large part of the Run Red experience, but it’s not all it has to offer.  For Cato, human connection was the cherry on the Run Red sundae.  Cato cherished the opportunity to meet and bond with new people through Run Red.  From the moment she entered Chicago, she knew she was surrounded by a good group of people.

“Coming to Chicago for the first time and getting such a warm welcome from the Run Red team made my first visit to the city a great experience,” Cato said.

To Cato, being with a great team made the experience more valuable.  The Run Red team’s welcome gave her the sense that she was part of something special, that she was part of a community.  As Cato finished the marathon, it became clear that the camaraderie among the team had easily endured the 26-mile distance.

“Being one of the slower runners I was really excited that they [my teammates] were still there at the end of the race cheering me on,” said Cato. “The entire experience was really a positive one.”

Run Red also taught Cato about the many different services the American Red Cross provides.  She knew about the Red Cross’ work during large disasters and armed conflict, but hadn’t heard of the lesser known day-to-day activities, such as Disaster Action Team fire response and blood collection.  Joining the Run Red Team increased her awareness of the Red Cross’ work.

For people who are considering participating, Cato recommends going for it.  She also advises newcomers to reach out to family and friends early in order to make the fundraising process run smoothly.  Cato acknowledges that running a marathon and raising funds isn’t always easy, but she finds it immensely rewarding.  To Cato, it’s much more than just a marathon.

“Run Red is an opportunity to meet new people and give back to your community. It’s not a race.  It’s an experience. It’s an opportunity to expand on your horizon,” said Cato. “Have fun.  Happy running.”

Written by Patrick Cavanaugh

What’s your number?

“Have you ever been asked ‘What’s your number?’ or, better yet, ‘What’s your friend’s number?’
In this tech-dependent culture, you may not know even your best friend’s digits off the top of your head these days. I know I don’t. Here we are in the midst of a Blackberry outage and have I saved my phone numbers somewhere on hard copy in case I can’t access them on my phone? Nope.
To admit this may render me a public disgrace to my employer (the Red Cross), but shamefully it’s true. I have a preparedness kit in my home, office and car and I’m trained in CPR and first aid but haven’t backed up all the contact information on my phone. I haven’t taken this one simple step that could really make a difference if something unexpected happens. I talk to my sister in Michigan at least once a day but could I tell you her phone number if I needed to? Umm, sadly no I could not. She has an Indiana area code for some reason and that’s about all I know…
Today I pledge to do one thing and that’s to print off my contacts in case I need them. I may even go a few steps further and save them to a zip drive and email them to myself so they live online too…
Read about more easy things you can do to save yourself a headache in a disaster or something as simple as a smart phone outage.

Martha Carlos is the Communications Director at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. She’s hoping this shameful public confession will spur her on to(finally) do the right thing.

Patient Connection: Connecting Families to their Runners at the Chicago Marathon

Red Cross volunteers are buzzing around the medical tents at the Chicago Marathon. In the biggest tent, like a scene from M.A.S.H., rows of injured and exhausted runners recover in temporary cots from the previous twenty-six mile test. Spectators converge on Red Cross booths, desperately seeking their loved ones, fearing they’ve been injured or rushed to a hospital. The volunteers work with the Patient Connection program of Red Cross—set up to respond to mass disasters when they occur.

45,000 runners participated in the Chicago Marathon this year. With this many people pushing their bodies as far as they can go, you can imagine that quite a few drop out from exhaustion or injury. Even those who finish may not be capable of making it further than one of the cots in a medical tent. In cases like these, mothers and sons easily lose each other in the confusion. A woman might hear that her sister was injured, but has no idea where in this massive city she could be. That’s why Red Cross is here.
A man with his son approaches a volunteer at one of the tents. He’s heard that his wife, a runner, was being held in a medical tent, but can’t find her. “They said she might be sent to the emergency room!” he says. The volunteer takes down the runner’s name and checks the runner’s location in a computer system, which shows the exact tent and cot number where the woman is. She tells the man his wife has been found, and she’s being treated by the marathon’s team of trained medics. In 45 minutes, she’s on her feet and reunited with her family.
Volunteers on site enter the names of runners being sought by families into a computer system. Back at the Chicago Red Cross headquarters, Carol Mosley is on a computer in her office, with the “sought” list up on her screen, busily switching between websites, cross-checking the list with hospital admittances, tracking participants as they run, speaking to families on the phone. If a runner is admitted to the hospital, Carol contacts the person seeking them, and lets them know where to find their runner. Without this system in place, family members would be separated—they may find out that their runner has been hospitalized, but have no idea to which of the Chicago area hospitals they’ve been admitted.
The Chicago Marathon is a great opportunity for the Red Cross team to test out their ability to respond to large disasters where many people are hurt. Granted, we won’t get prior warning of a stadium collapse, or a train derailment, but the marathon gives volunteers an opportunity to implement their disaster response skills, and it’s reassuring to know that the systems in place have been put to the test. In the event of disaster, the primary concern is making sure loved ones are safe—Red Cross is here to help.
For more information on the Patient Connection program, visit:

Written by: Jonathan Bressler

Did you see Contagion and did it freak you out?

Doctors say that spread of a pandemic type virus in the movie Contagion has a kernel of truth. We aren’t trying to freak you out or scare you into bathing in vats of germ sanitizer but it’s something we should probably think about-especially when we all know flu season is coming to schools, daycares and offices near us. Below is an excerpt from story from USA Today on the subject and some of our thoughts on it.

Contagion has already has brought in more than $44 million at the box office in its two-week run. USA Today chatted with doctors and pharmacists who spend their days thinking, and sometimes experiencing, real-life worst-case scenarios when it comes to deadly epidemics. Contagion shows a world where the people who keep civilization together — police, firefighters, sanitation workers, supermarket clerks — are either sick, dead or at home with their families while garbage piles up, buildings burn unchecked, and gun-toting thieves ransack the suburbs for food.

The story goes onto say that it happened to a much lesser extent in Toronto during the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic, which killed 44 people in Canada. “Support staff didn’t figure their jobs were important,” says Tom Kirsch, a doctor of emergency medicine and co-director of Johns Hopkins’ University’s Center for Refugee and Disaster Response, Baltimore. His center has been thinking hard about what he calls the “willingness to respond.”

Tom Kirsch is also a member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. The American Red Cross recommends taking simple precautions like hand washing to avoid the spread of any type of flu. Here are some tips that we recommend on this matter including prevention, symptoms and how to care for others with the flu and if you have little ones, we have a super cute free anti-germ program for kids 4 to 7 called Scrubby Bear.

Related link
Spike Lee (a different one, not that one)talks how hand washing cleanses your mind

Reporting a Robbery via Facebook. Strange News?

The Associated Press reported today that a woman used Facebook to ask friends to report a robbery.

I love reading the news, not just the regular stuff but the water-cooler-conversation inducing fodder too. I was looking for a mindless diversion, something like this, “Pumpkin Found Hanging in Pear Tree” when I clocked on the “strange news” link in my e-mail this morning.

Today’s story hit a little closer to home, it was about a woman who used Facebook to ask for help after a robbery. Maybe it’s because I work where I do and stories about “tweeting for help” have become commonplace for us at the Red Cross but I think this is actually pretty common. We even did a recent study “Social Media in Disasters” that backs this up. It showed that about half of the respondents said they would consider asking for help during a disaster or to report a crime via social media channels; 3 out of 4 of those would expect help to arrive within an hour.
Would you turn to social media for help in a disaster or emergency? Have you already done so? Tell me your story.

Martha Carlos is the Communications Director at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago