Recognizing Local Heroes

m17540389_514x260_Chicago_Heroes_2013_AspotGrowing up, we all had a hero. It may have been Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman, but did you know that true heroes surround us every day?

A person doesn’t need to have the power of invisibility or super strength to be a hero. An act of bravery, selflessness and the ability to touch people’s lives in a positive way are characteristics found in a true hero.

Do you know someone like this? The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago is looking for local standouts to honor at the 12th annual Heroes Breakfast this spring. The Red Cross recognizes community members every year who have demonstrated heroism through extraordinary acts of courage or kindness.

Nominations are accepted in various categories, such as the Law Enforcement Award won last year by Sergeant Christopher Kapa and Officer Kirsten Lund of Chicago. The two officers responded to a call from another Chicago Police Department officer of shots fired on the South East Side. Arriving at the scene, Sergeant Kapa and Officer Lund found their comrade hit by a bullet after chasing a suspect on foot. Officer Lund applied pressure to the officer’s bleeding chest wound as Sergeant Kapa rushed them to the emergency room, saving his life.

Another past-honoree who felt compelled to help others in danger was Donielle Johnston of Elgin, who received the Emergency Medical Assistance Hero. Donielle was heading east on I-290 in DuPage County when she drove upon a horrific rollover car crash that injured a three-month-old baby and his parents. Donielle rushed to the aid of the infant who had severe lacerations and was losing large amounts of blood. Trained in First Aid, Donielle applied gauze to stop the bleeding and comforted the parents until paramedics arrived.

Joyce Carrasco of Elgin was also honored last year, as the Military Hero. Joyce is the founder and director of Greater Chicago Blue Star Mothers, a support network for local military families. With two of her four children serving in the United States Air Force and Marine Corps, Joyce, along with other military moms in the group are holding down the home front volunteering at the O’Hare USO and hosting baby showers for expectant mothers while service members are away from home. The Blue Star Mothers also present patriotic banners to parents of service men and women that honor their sacrifice.

These are only a few heroes among the many. If you know someone with an inspiring story, a true hero, then we invite you to nominate him or her for recognition. Candidates must live or work in Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kankakee, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, or Will counties in Illinois, or Jasper, Lake or Newton counties in Indiana. The heroic action must have taken place after January 1, 2013. Candidates who are chosen as Red Cross heroes will be honored at the Heroes Breakfast on April 30, 2014.

Nominations are due Jan. 31. To nominate your hero, visit: redcross.org/chicago/heroes or call 312-729-6388.

Written By: Diana Brokop

Saving Lives one Donation at a Time

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Would you believe you could help save a life in just 30 minutes?  Every donation of blood is a way to prepare and help a community. The effort to give is what drew in the crowds at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago last Tuesday morning.  Red Cross employees and other ordinary participants took time out of their busy day to make an impact on their community.  By just donating a pint of blood the individuals at the blood drive have made a conscious effort to help others.

“How could you not donate blood?” a walk-in donor named Rick asked me.  “It is the fundamental way to save lives,” he replied.  Rick sat patiently in the waiting area proudly wearing a bright red sticker proclaiming ‘I Make A Difference.’  “The little time you take out of your day can go such a long way,” he explained.  Rick seems to be like most people at the blood drive, veteran donors who do it because they care.  Around 40 percent of the nation’s blood donations come from the American Red Cross, so it is no wonder the blood drive was full of enthusiastic donors.

Walk -ins were not the only ones donating at the March 26th drive, American Red Cross employees filled the seats waiting to do their part.  Bridget Blair a Red Cross employee shared her thoughts and interest in donating blood.  “Not only does giving blood help others and save lives, it also supports a vital department at the organization.” Bridget clarified that at the American Red Cross, employees try to support all aspects at the Greater Chicago office and a blood donation is an easy way to give back.  She explained her appreciation for working at an organization that host blood drives at the office. “It is so great and convenient that I can walk down stairs at my office and give blood, it makes it hard not to donate.”  The donation of blood is an easy way to give to those in need.  With more than 44,000 blood donations needed every day, the participants at the blood drive can be assured their donations are making a difference.

Written by: Alyssa Barford