Many of us cross paths with heroes every day. Some make a difference in just one person's life; others have a positive impact on an entire community. They all give to others without thinking of themselves.
It's that spirit in which the Berks County chapter of the American Red Cross presented its 10th annual Heroes Awards and Breakfast at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Wyomissing on Thursday. This year's theme was "Celebrating a decade of heroes in our community."
The event's mission is to "celebrate heroes who, over the course of the past year, lived and embodied the values of humanity, voluntary service and unity, which constitute the core of the mission of the American Red Cross."
Xavier Martinez, an explorer with the Berks County sheriff's office Kyle Pagerly #027 Explorer Program, was honored as the youth good Samaritan hero for saving the life of a drowning friend, Ifedapo, by pulling him out of a swimming pool and performing CPR.
"When he spit up water, I immediately looked at his chest and it was going up and down, and I could see that he was breathing on his own," said Martinez, who was certified in CPR just 20 days earlier.
Ifedapo would spend the night at Reading Hospital and go on to make a full recovery.
911 telecommunicator Theresa Johnson was honored as the 911 dispatch hero for coordinating the police response to a report of an armed person in Wernersville.
"I dispatched the call, and as things developed, I started to realize that maybe it was going to turn into something that wouldn't end pleasantly," Johnson said.
What authorities didn't know at the time was that Jonathan Rutkowski, armed with two guns, had said goodbye to family and friends though Facebook messages and left a note saying he was “leaving today.”
Officers shot Rutkowski when he pointed the guns at them.
Christine Wendt, a nurse at Lauer's Park Elementary School, was honored as the medical hero for using CPR and an AED unit to revive a colleague, Lynn Haubrich, who collapsed in a school hallway.
"I knew that she had two children in the building, and no one was going down on my watch without a fight," Wendt said.
"She saved my life, and I don't know how to thank her enough," Haubrich said. "I thank God that she didn't give up on me."
Chief Warrant Ofc. 2 Jarrett Yoder was honored as the military hero for his service to our country.
Yoder lost his life when his Apache helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan on April 9, 2013.
"He wanted to fly since he was 4-years-old," his parents, Gary and Diane, told 69 News. "Since he was a little kid, he knew what he wanted to do. He was going to be a pilot."
Yoder and his wife, Heather, were married in July 2012. Only a month later, he was dispatched to Afghanistan for his second deployment.
"He'll forever be my hero," Heather said.
Dave Lis was honored as the animal rescue hero for developing the Animal Rescue League's Patriotic Paws program.
"I'm a Vietnam veteran," Lis said. "I have a PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] diagnosis."