Last Thursday started like any other day – I groggily stepped out of bed, got ready for the day, got the kids up and dressed, let the dog out. After spending the previous evening thinking about a future kitchen remodel, fretting about the time and cost, yet anxiously anticipating the day I would finally be rid of my 1980s cabinetry and tacky countertops, I was more tired than usual. But when I arrived at a breakfast event that Thomson Reuters was sponsoring, all my anxiety was replaced by humble gratitude for the fact that I even had a kitchen and that I had a happy and healthy family to come home to.

The event was the American Red Cross Heroes Breakfast, held to highlight individuals in Minnesota who put their personal needs aside to help others in their time of need. This year’s six honorees include a dock foreman who prevented an elderly man from taking his own life in the icy waters of Lake Superior, a former police officer that saved a 15-year-old snowboarder from cardiac arrest, and an inspiring amputee that decided to give back to her community by donating life-saving blood.

The Awards were presented to recipients who were nominated by community members and selected by the 2014 Heroes Breakfast Nomination Committee. The awards recognized the following heroes in the below categories:

Community: Former St. Paul City Council member Pat Harris was honored for his work with Serving Our Troops, an organization that sends a message of hope to American soldiers. Founded in 2004, Serving Our Troops brings steaks around the world to the Minnesota National Guard. Simultaneously the troops’ families enjoy the same meal right in Minnesota. Smiles and tears are shared at the two feasts, which are connected via live video feed. To date, Serving Our Troops has served more than 75,000 steaks in countries such as Kosovo, Kuwait and Iraq. Harris’ work has gained the attention of First Lady Michelle Obama, who publicly thanked Serving Our Troops in 2012.

Military Hero: Dennis Davis of Anoka, MN was honored for his work improving the lives of military veterans. A survivor of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from his service at the military’s only mortuary facility, the still active Air Force Reserve Captain Davis was faced with unfair stereotypes that affect many of our service members as they transition to life after military service. Determined to eliminate negative associations of veterans in the work place, Davis began consulting with veterans and employers. His work connected veterans to jobs by translating the values they bring, such as integrity, excellence and honor, to potential employers. Davis has written two books about employment matters and PTSD, has proposed legislation to improve hiring practices for veterans, and has worked to ensure that military members are represented in the Minnesota Viking’s football stadium construction.

Give Life: Kate Ross, a St. Paul resident and blood donation advocate, was recognized for her work promoting blood donation since being injured in a life-changing car accident in 2009. Exhausted from being a full-time student and working full-time Ross fell asleep at the wheel while going 60 mph. Her car hit a guardrail, leaving her trapped for an hour waiting for someone to discover her. Unfortunately her leg was severed in the accident. In spite of the trauma and loss of her leg, Ross is a positive, energetic young woman who is determined to give back the resource that helped her through 19 surgeries — life-saving blood. Today, she is a regular blood donor inspiring others to donate blood and a champion for amputee rights.

First Responder: Cottage Grove resident Shane Linehan received the First Responder Hero Award for his emergency response to a cardiac arrest survivor.  While snow skiing, Linehan saw a young snowboarder fall to the ground after completing a run. He quickly responded and, because of his emergency training as a deputy sheriff, recognized the signs of cardiac arrest. After administrating CPR, Linehan used an AED device to resuscitate the 17-year-old snowboarder. In February, he assisted the young victim’s family further by helping them move after a house fire took their home. The family is grateful for their son’s survival and to have a friend in Linehan.

Youth Good Samaritan: Red Wing youth Sydney Book was honored for helping to save the life a motorcycle accident victim. Driving home with her mother from a volleyball game, 15-year-old Book was focused on reviewing her athletic performance when they saw a motorcycle rider collide with a vehicle. Book’s mother instructed the sophomore to call 911 and to stay in the car. Though typically obedient, Book left the car and immediately helped her mother address the injured motorcyclist’s severed leg, keeping him calm until first responders arrived. She credits the Red Cross Babysitting Clinic for teaching her what to do in the event of an emergency while remaining calm.

Good Samaritan: Zoran Pedisic received the Good Samaritan Hero Award for his courageous behavior in helping someone during a drowning emergency in Lake Superior. In November, Pedisic, a Lake Superior Warehousing foreman, noticed an elderly man approaching a nearby pier. Pedisic was unsure why the man was at the site, until he saw the man staring down at the 45 degree water. More than an arm’s length away when the man jumped, Pedisic yelled for his co-workers to call 911. A seasoned swimmer from an island in Croatia, he knew the muscle-freezing dangers of the frigid water. Still, without hesitation or concern for his own safety, Pedisic leapt into the lake and grabbed hold of the man and kept him afloat until other co-workers pulled them to safety.

“Each of the heroes here today embody what it means to be resilient,” said Craig Yolitz, vice president of Operations for FindLaw and American Red Cross Board member. “Thomson Reuters is incredibly proud to be a sponsor of not only this breakfast and award ceremony, but also of an organization that empowers ordinary people to perform extraordinary acts of service.”

To learn more about how you can help, visit the Red Cross website today:

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