Seemingly ordinary people who have helped others through selfless acts of courage and compassion will be recognized Friday at the American Red Cross Central Valley’s “Real Heroes” event.
The Red Cross will honor 14 people, a dog and an organization.
In addition, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, will present the Congressional Badge of Bravery to Deputy U.S. Marshal Steve Mroczka, who was shot twice in Fresno while attempting to arrest a fugitive wanted in connection to a violent sexual assault.
“Despite being wounded twice by gunfire, Deputy U.S. Marshal Mroczka did not back down from the attack and engaged the fugitive in a close quarter gun battle,” reads a statement released by Nunes’ office. “Deputy U.S. Marshal Mroczka was ultimately able to shoot and incapacitate the fugitive and prevented him from escaping into the community and harming innocent civilians and other law enforcement officers.”
This year’s Red Cross Real Heroes:
• Youth Heroes: Fresno teenagers Cole Emerzian and Kyle Stoll rescued a family from their burning home after driving by and noticing it was on fire.
• Good Samaritan Hero: Donna Johnson, now known as the Porterville “Water Angel,” began collecting water donations and distributing them to residents affected by the historic drought.
• Law Enforcement Heroes: Madera County Sheriff’s Office deputies Warren Anderson, Eric Grijalva, Chris Williams and Sgt. Larry Rich were instrumental in quickly alerting the Oakhurst community of the fast-growing Courtney Fire that destroyed 30 homes in September.
• Fire Rescue Hero: Emilio Valencia, a firefighter for Fresno County/CalFire, entered a burning home to rescue a trapped resident.
• Community Partner Hero: Poverello House provides food, shelter and compassion to the homeless, hungry, alone and sick in Fresno who have no one to care for them.
• Health Care Hero: American Ambulance employee Shaun Vincent saved the life of a man on the side of the road who went into cardiac arrest while driving to a store.
• Military Heroes: Army veterans John Cook, Richard Helm Jr. and Brian Lango came across a car accident and quickly worked to save the lives of the women inside. The three were driving home to Fresno from San Jose when they came upon the accident scene.
• Animal Rescue Heroes: Dave Ward and K-9 “Callie” worked as a team for eight years to identify ignitable liquid and help fire investigators throughout Fresno County put arsonists behind bars.
• Spirit of the American Red Cross: Charlie Waters, advocate for military veterans in the Central Valley, worked tirelessly to establish the 300-bed Veterans Home of California in Fresno.
The American Red Cross Central California Region serves 10 counties that are home to more than 4 million people. The charitable organization provides services to victims of disasters and education about life-saving skills.