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American Red Cross honors 16 Orange County heroes for extraordinary actions

The American Red Cross Serving Orange County recently honored 16 unsung heroes at its fourth annual Orange County Heroes Luncheon on Friday, May 3 at Hotel Irvine. The Orange County Heroes Luncheon aims to recognize local individuals and organizations who embody the mission and spirit of the Red Cross by saving lives and creating safer and more resilient communities. Nearly 300 business leaders, elected officials, sponsors and community supporters were in attendance for one unforgettable afternoon.

“The old saying is true…heroes don’t always wear capes,” says Linda Voss, Regional CEO of the American Red Cross Desert to the Sea Region, which serves Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. “We live and work among many unsung heroes. It’s a distinct honor to recognize the incredible feats of ordinary people with extraordinary courage in Orange County. Bringing their stories to the forefront to receive the attention and praise they deserve – that’s what it’s all about.”

This year’s Orange County Heroes Luncheon raised over $136,000 for the American Red Cross Serving Orange County and was made possible by Disaster Relief Sponsor Antis Roofing & Waterproofing as well as Community Preparedness Sponsors Alliance HealthCare Services, Nationwide and Southern California Veterinary Medical Association. Home Fire Campaign Champion A Little Help Foundation provided a $25,000 donation match at the event that will be used to help Orange County residents prepare for, respond to and recover from home fires, like the home fire that affected the family of Youth Award winner Logan Delrosario (see below).


Courtesy photo.

Animal Welfare Heroes: Reserve Captain Chuck Williams and K-9 Cinder & Reserve Sergeant Alan Lenning and K-9 Abby (Orange County Sheriff’s Department)
Reserve Captain Chuck Williams, K-9 Cinder, Reserve Sergeant Alan Lenning and K-9 Abby are assigned to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Human Remains Detection (HRD) Team, Search & Rescue Unit. These two K-9s and their handlers enter disaster zones to search for missing persons and give families the peace and closure they need.

In January 2018, the K-9 pairs responded to the Montecito Mudslides in Santa Barbara County to assist with locating missing persons. In November 2018, these teams also responded to the devastating aftermath of the Camp Fire in Paradise, California.

Despite the harrowing landscape Reserve Captain Williams, K-9 Cinder, Reserve Sergeant Lenning and K-9 Abby cleared hundreds of structures during their mission and even located two survivors: a 92-year-old man and his caregiver who had been held up in their house for six days.

Community Heroes: Chanel Dalirifar and Johnathan Marshall
Nordstrom employee Chanel Dalirifar and Security Officer Jonathan Marshall found a suicidal woman on the fifth floor of the Mission Viejo Mall parking structure, ready to jump. Chanel helped Jonathan hold the suicidal woman’s arms to prevent her from going over. Chanel then told a vulnerable story of how she had lost a family member to suicide.

This shared moment calmed the woman down and she agreed to turn around, coming back into the parking structure. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department arrived shortly after and transported the woman to the hospital. The actions of Chanel Dalirifar and Security Officer Jonathan Marshall helped save the woman’s life.

Corporate Hero: Antis Roofing & Waterproofing
Antis Roofing & Waterproofing has been a long-time partner of the American Red Cross. Antis Roofing & Waterproofing supports the Red Cross mission through generous donations to disaster relief efforts, hosting blood drives, participating in the Missing Types Campaign, volunteering atSound the Alarm events and most recently highlighting the Red Cross in the Antis Community Corner with the Anaheim Ducks.

In addition to supporting the Red Cross, Antis Roofing & Waterproofing is also proud to be involved in charitable work with many other local organizations, such as Alzheimers Orange County, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Habitat for Humanity, among others.

First Responder Heroes: Deputy Richard Broadhead and Deputy Michael Swain (Orange County Sheriff’s Department)
Orange County Sheriff’s Department Deputies Richard Broadhead and Michael Swain came to the rescue when an individual fell off a Dana Point cliff while taking a picture. They climbed up about 30 feet of difficult terrain and found the victim bleeding from his head and ankle, going in and out of consciousness.

Broadhead and Swain rendered aid and secured Lindsey to the cliff to prevent him from falling further. Almost an hour passed as the deputies kept Lindsey secure and stabilized on the cliffside until he was air lifted out and transported to the hospital for treatment.

Gift of Life Hero: Barry Friedman
Barry Friedman’s enthusiasm for donating blood and saving lives started at age 17. After volunteering as a blood donor for some time, he heard about the platelet donation process at a Red Cross KLOS Blood Drive in 1989 and has been an Apheresis donor ever since. Barry is passionate about donating blood and platelets.

“The personal rewards are absolutely indescribable, as I believe that there is no better way to celebrate life than to pay it forward and to help someone in need,” says Barry. “What a wonderful opportunity it is to give of myself and from the heart.”

Barry consistently donates every other week at the Red Cross Fullerton Donation Center. He recently hit the impressive 600-platelet unit milestone. Barry has also been a direct match with specific (HLA) genetic markers numerous times. HLA-matched platelets are in short supply and are most often used for patients undergoing aggressive treatments for their illness. In addition to his regularly scheduled donations, Barry continues his tradition of donating at the KLOS blood drive and is a proud collector of all the KLOS blood drive T-shirts from the last 31 years!

Service to the Armed Forces Heroes: Sergeant Espinoza and Corporal Koeneke
Sergeant Espinoza, Corporal Dass, Sergeant Henne, Corporal Koeneke, Corporal Leonard and Corporal Wehrenberg were heading home after a two-day camping trip in Big Bear when they encountered the scene of a motorcycle accident. Espinoza ran to the injured motorcyclist and quickly realized he was in shock from his extensive injuries.

Due to the intensity of the impact, his right leg had been severed at the knee and he was bleeding profusely. Sergeant Espinoza quickly acted, running back to the vehicles and calling for a tourniquet. When no tourniquet was found, Sergeant Espinoza, Corporal Koeneke and the rest of the Marines improvised and used a belt.

After treating the right leg, the Marines assessed the left leg for injury, cutting away the pant leg, and discovered a compound fracture with excessive bleeding. Once a tourniquet was applied to the left leg, the rider slowly began to regain consciousness. Once emergency medical personnel arrived, the Marines assisted first responders. The two riders who were accompanying the victim thanked the blood-covered Marines for their quick actions that saved the life of their friend.

Water Rescue Heroes: FAE Michael Salazar, Firefighter Dickens Tai and Firefighter Eric Birkelbach (OC Fire Authority)
On September 11, 2018, firefighters from California US&R Task Force 5 (CA-TF5) drove non-stop 2,600 miles from California to North Carolina to assist with water rescues in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. While motoring to the edge of the woods in the city of Beulaville, blowing whistles and hailing for any response, FAE Michael Salazar, Firefighter Dickens Tai and Firefighter Eric Birkelbach heard a faint cry for help.

They found a weak 82-year-old man holding onto a small tree trunk. Because of his location, the rescue took several attempts and the boat propeller became entangled in submerged branches, causing the motor to shut down. Without regard to their own safety, the rescuers continued their efforts and were able to successfully retrieve him and restore the boat motor.

The crew returned to the launch site and delivered the victim to an ambulance for treatment and transport to a field hospital. They then returned to the flooded area, made contact with additional residents and evacuated two more adults to safety.

Youth Hero: Logan Delrosario
When the Delrosario family went to bed on Christmas Eve in 2018, they- like millions of other Americans- were excitedly anticipating the festivities that awaited them on Christmas Day. Family time, unwrapping gifts, Christmas celebrations and happy memories were just a few hours away as they drifted off to sleep.

Then, in the wee hours of Christmas morning, everything changed. At 2:00 a.m., 12-year-old Logan Delrosario was abruptly awakened by the loud beeping of smoke alarms, and quickly realized there was a fire in his Lake Forest home. Logan immediately alerted his family members of the imminent danger and helped them evacuate their residence.

Logan helped his family safely escape their manufactured home using training that he and his family received through the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. As part of this campaign’s Sound the Alarm events, Red Cross volunteers, alongside community partner Orange County Fire Authority, had previously installed free smoke alarms in homes throughout the Delrosario’s Kimberly Garden neighborhood and provided fire safety training and information for residents. Thanks to this training, Logan was able to save the lives of his family members.

For more information about the American Red Cross Desert to the Sea Region, please visit redcross.org/dts. For information about the Orange County Heroes Luncheon, or to nominate a hero to be recognized, visit redcross.org/ocheroes. Nominations are accepted year-round.

About the American Red Cross Desert to the Sea Region:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. The American Red Cross Desert to the Sea Region has proudly served Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties for more than 100 years. For more information, please visit redcross.org/dts  or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossDTS or Facebook at facebook.com/RedCrossDTS.

This article was released by the American Red Cross.