Ordinary people can make an extraordinary difference.
The American Red Cross honored several Bloomington-Normal heroes this week at its annual Saluting Our Heroes breakfast. Red Cross Regional Chief Executive Officer Lynn Hruska said the honorees are regular people whose stories often go untold.
“These are everyday heroes. These are people who never identify themselves as heroes. They always describe themselves as just doing what needed to be done,” said Hruska.
Hruska also said many of the stories involved life-or-death situations that could have ended differently without the honorees' help.
One of the honorees is Liz Larson, a former GLT staffer who died last summer in a boating accident on the Kankakee River in Wilmington. She was recognized posthumously with the Good Samaritan Award.
“What started as an enjoyable afternoon rafting ended in tragedy when Liz and a 6-year-old girl unexpectedly went over a dam and ended up in the river. Liz performed the ultimate heroic act by saving the child’s life but was unable to save herself,” according to the Red Cross.
This year's Public Service award went to DeWitt County resident and Macon County sheriff’s deputy Bart Hickey. Hruska said Hickey was faced with the decision to save a woman from a car that hit an electrical box. Hruska said the vehicle could have electrocuted Hickey when he opened the door.
“He took a great risk. The person in the car was unconscious, and he went for it. He opened the car door, pulled her out, and as you’ll see in the footage, the car erupts into flames shortly after,” said Hruska.
Sgt. Joshua Rodgers from Normal was honored posthumously with the Armed Forces Award. The Army Ranger died last April during a joint operation with Afghan forces in Nangarhar Province.
Proceeds from the event go to the American Red Cross mission to provide services to the community.
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