Heather Heyer, Loses Life Standing Up Against Racism And Hate In VA
Heather Heyer, 32, died on Aug. 13 in Charlottesville, VA while protesting against hate and racism. She was killed after a man drove his car into the counterprotesters against "Unite the Right" rally of white nationalists (which included neo-nazis). Nineteen others were also injured in the hate crime. Two troopers -- VA State Police Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates -- died in a helicopter crash on their way to assist other officers who were trying to maintain public safety. Heyer has been described by friends and family as a person who lived to help others -- a strong-willed woman who fought for fairness and justice.
Stay-At-Home Moms Dawn Chapman and Karen Nickel Take On A Monster In MO
In 2012, stay-at-home Moms Dawn Chapman, Karen Nickel and Beth Strohmeyer got together because something was clearly wrong in their neighborhood. Children were getting sick with brain tumors and other cancers. There was an odd smell being emitted from the ground. It prompted Nickel, a Mom and Grandmother, to launch the West Lake Landfill Facebook Group to start talking about it. What their research found was that they were all living on a Superfund site where waste from a uranium-processing center for the Atomic bomb was deposited -- near Bridgeton, MO. Chapman and Nickel have since mobilized other Moms via Just Moms to get answers and fight for their kids and neighborhoods. And, they refuse to stop until the EPA either fully removes the waste or permanently relocates residents living nearest the landfill. There is a documentary in the works outlining their efforts called, very appropriately, Atomic Moms.
-- honored by Anonymous (Photo courtesy of Christen Commuso)
Sarah Hotchkiss & Natalie Smith, both 14 from Camarillo, CA come to rescue of elderly couple
While vacationing on Catalina Island, Sarah Hotchkiss and Natalie Smith were in bed in the early morning hours on the Hotchkiss family boat when they heard a woman crying for help. The two girls quickly got out of bed, grabbed a flashlight, got into their dinghy and began searching the harbor. They soon found an elderly woman on a sailboat waving her arms for help as her 70 year-old husband clung to the side of the boat, his foot wrapped tightly with a rope as he was struggling to keep his head above water. The girls sided up along the sailboat and -- while keeping an eye on the man so he wouldn't go under -- went to work on trying to slacken the rope. In minutes, the man was free. "It was scary," Hotchkiss told the Acorn Times. She said that they just both followed their instincts. "I felt like his life was in my hands so if I didn't do something, I don't know what would have happened."
-- honored by Catherine in Camarillo, CA (photo, courtesy of Bobby Curtis, Acorn Newspapers)
Meet 5 year-old Hero Ayden Ison from KY Who Crawled To Get Help For His Dad
(Courtesy of WLEX)
Vickie Williams-Tillman, 56, Saves Police Officer in Baton Rogue, LA
Vickie Williams-Tillman, 56, was driving when she noticed a police officer (Officer Billie Amie) in an argument with another man. She stopped to see if the officer needed help and could see in his eyes that he was in trouble. At that moment, the man jumped onto the police officer and took his baton and started hitting him in the head. That's when Williams-Tillman called 911, got out of the car and jumped on the back of the criminal as he tried to get the officer's gun. The officer credits her for saving his life. The grandmother told the local news, "It was just an instinct. God led the way."
-- honored by a Mom in San Ramon, CA
Tom Miller, 53, Saves 5 Year-Old Girl From Drowning In A Missouri River
Tom Miller, from Granite City, IL, was swimming in the Black River in MO with his wife and friends near a roadway bridge when suddenly a woman began screaming. Looking over, they saw a woman in the water holding a baby; she was terrified, panicked as her five-year-old girl was face down in the river and being sucked into a culvert pipe that ran under the road. Although the girl was wearing a life perserver, it was no match for the powerful force of the rushing water. Risking his own life, Miller made a beeline to the girl. He reached her, pulling her up and out to save her life while battling through the currents himself.
-- honored by Dave and Beth Uhercik
Steve Hill and Jason Nelson's heroic actions in Lake City, FL
These two brave men embody the spirit of National Heroes Day.
10 Year-Old Kiera Larsen Dies Saving Toddler in El Cajon, CA
Her shirt says "Brave" and that is exactly what 10 year-old Kiera Vera Larsen was. When she saw a driverless SUV rolling backwards down a driveway into the path of two-year-old Emmah Gusich, Kiera ran and pushed the toddler out of the way only to be struck herself. Kiera later died of the injuries she sustained. The elementary school girl with the beautiful life spirit will forever be remembered as a a true hero.
Gloria Lewis, Angel To Homeless and Hungry In Ft. Lauderdale
Gloria Lewis is a waitress from Barbados who now lives in Ft. Lauderdale. Out of her modest home with the help of her husband and son, she began Care in Action USA and every single week, she prepares almost 500 nutritious meals for the local homeless. She puts the meals in styrofoam containers and includes a proverb or a quote from the Bible along with them to bring not only food but also hope to those less fortunate. She puts the meals into her car on Saturdays and Sundays and spends each day handing out meals and praying with the men and women. She has no big funding or sponsors, but still she works to bring love and hope so people know that they -- which includes veterans of war -- have not been forgotten. She was once homeless herself. She works as a full-time waitress at Ruven's in Delray Beach, FL.
-- honored by Rotimi Rainwater, director of "Lost In America," a powerful, new feature documentary about our country's homeless youth. (Photo by Rotimi Rainwater)
Mike DeBartoli, Firefighter With ALS Helped Pass 'Right To Try' Law In CA
Mike Debartoli, a firefighter captain in Sacramento for 28 years who ran into burning buildings, saved lives and brought many children into this world, continues to fight on even though he has ALS. Despite the terminal illness, Debartoli repeatedly fought in the State's capital to help pass the state's 'Right to Try' law so that those who are terminal have the right to try medicines after the medication has gone through only Phase One of the FDA process (but not yet fully approved). As of Aug. 3, the bill has been passed by the Senate and heads to the House for approval in all 50 states.
He was on the USAR team (Urban Search and Rescue) and was sent both to Oklahoma City after the bombing and to Ground Zero after 911 to help search for survivors.
As of July 11, he can no longer go upstairs at his Tracy, CA home and has no handicap assist bathroom. A Go Fund Me account has been set up to help him to make ends meet. Yes, a hero who has helped others to the very end now needs our help.
-- honored by caretaker Anthony Gordon, whose motto is "One Act of Love Can Change A Life For A Lifetime."
Apollo Mission Team Who Put Men On The Moon On This Day In 1969
There were 400,000 Americans who worked on the Apollo Program. In fact, the entire space program of that era was populated with heroes -- from those who designed, tested and rode the massive rockets to the nimble-fingered seamstresses who hand-stitched space suits, to Mission Control, training and recovery crews, admin and support staff. Because of these Americans from NASA, the military, private industry and academia, the U.S. won the space race by putting Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon July 20, 1969 while astronaut Michael Collins orbited above. The teams did it ahead of schedule and under budget. They all had to do their jobs correctly to get Eagle to the safe landing in the Sea of Tranquility 48 years ago today while the calm, heroic Apollo 11 crew of Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on a four billion year-old moon.
-- honored by filmmaker Ted Melfi whose Hidden Figures was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Steve Bales, Only 26, NASA Worker Crucial Moon Landing
Steve Bales, a 26 year-old NASA flight controller had the responsibility of monitoring Eagle's guidance system during Apollo 11's eleven-and-a-half minute descent to the moon. If any problems occurred, Bales had the authority and responsibility to call an abort. As astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended, there were manageable issues until the primitive, 1969 computer began signaling a series of 'program alarms' indicating an 'executive overflow'; the machine was relaying that it was being asked to do too much, too fast and was dropping what it deemed less important calculations. This was a "go/no-go" situation just a few thousand feet above the moon. Bales had only seconds to decide whether or not to call an abort. With both fuel and time running out, it was up to Bales to decide if these alarms warranted stopping the first try at a moon landing. Bales recognized it was not a show-stopper, quickly consulted with his 'back room' team to confirm and gave flight controller Gene Kranz-- and the Apollo 11 crew 240,000 miles away hurtling toward the moon-- the 'go,' to ignore the alarms and proceed to land.
-- honored by D.C. of Escondido, CA
Rick Rescorla, War Hero, Who Died Saving Over 2,600 Lives On 9/11
Rick Rescorla --I had the privilege of meeting him -- was British-born and volunteered for the U.S. Army before becoming an American citizen. Sent to Vietnam as a platoon leader, he fought at the Ia Drang Valley, the largest engagement in the Vietnam War after being called in to replace a company that had suffered the heaviest casualties in the first day of combat. Rescorla not only positioned his men in the bloody, fighting pits the previous Americans had occupied, but also crawled alone into the enemy lines to survey the American defenses from the enemy's perspective, then crawled back and re-positioned his men. The next morning, they fought off an assault without losing a single man. Two days later, when a relief column of Americans were ambushed and nearly decimated, Rescorla helicoptered in with a handful of reinforcements; his confidence, skill and courage helped transform hopelessness into resolve, and helped save survivors who had been in immediate danger of death.
But Rescorla's greatest contribution to saving lives occurred on 9/11 at the World Trade Center. As head of security operations for Morgan Stanley, Rick had predicted a terrorist act involving airplanes. When planes hit the twin towers, Rescorla was ordered (during the chaos) to keep the thousands of Morgan Stanley employees right where they were. He ignored this order and began evacuating people along the routes he'd already scouted and planned. Making sure they were safe, he turned around and went back in to make sure that no one had been left behind. He saved 2,687 lives on that day alone -- but he did not save his own.
Just before the building collapsed, he telephoned his wife and said, "If something happens to me, I want you to know that you made my life."
-- honored by Randall Wallace, screenwriter of Best Picture winner Braveheart, writer/director of both Heaven is for Real and We Were Soldiers, and director of Secretariat.
Richard Jewell True Hero Of The 1986 Summer Olympic Games
Richard Jewell, the then 33 year-old security guard at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta saved lives on July 27, 1996, when he alerted the police to a suspicious backpack which was was later found to be filled with pipe bombs during Olympic festivities. He began evacuating as many people as he could from the area before the bombs suddenly exploded into the crowd. One person was killed and 111 injured while another person later died a heart attack. But it was Jewell whose keen observations saved lives that day as the death toll in the park would surely have been higher.
This real American hero then endured the unthinkable: He was falsely accused as the perpetrator (which he was not), and he had to shoulder unbelievable stress as his good name was dragged through the mud. He was later exonerated, but the toll on his life was tremendous. Richard Jewell died young, at the age of 44, but he is one of America’s true national heroes.
-- honored by National Heroes Day
Liviu Librescu, Holocaust Survivor, Saved 22 Students At Va Tech
On April 16, 2007, 76 year-old Virginia Tech engineering professor Liviu Librescu held the door of his classroom as a gunman tried to enter. He shouted to his 23 students to get out while he was shot through the door. As kids jumped out of windows, Librescu was able to hold the door after being shot over and over again. He was shot five times -- one of 32 killed during one of this country's most deadly mass shootings. Because of his heroic actions, all but one student made it out alive. A child during World War II, Librescu had survived the Holocaust in a Jewish ghetto in Romania, while his father was sent to a forced labor camp. After the war, Librescu studied aeronautical engineering. He and his family eventually immigrated to Israel where he taught engineering at Tel-Aviv University before becoming an American citizen and making Blacksburg, VA a permanent home. “Professor Librescu died as he lived, devoted to his students and to his profession,” said Dr. Ishwar Puri, head of the ESM department at VA Tech.
-- honored by David Cariens, author of six books, including Va Tech: Make Sure It Doesn't Get Out and The America We All Want
8 Year-Old Jayda Bell Saves Sister, Baby Niece In Sherwood, AR
Jayda Bell sprang into action after her 23 year-old sister Kindalynn had a seizure while driving with her and her two year-old niece on an Arkansas highway. With Kindalynn unable to function, Jayda was scared but kept her head and managed to push her sister's foot down on the brake to stop the car. "I told her don't die on me because she's my favorite sister, of course ... she's been my whole life," Jayda said. After the car came to a stop, the brave girl put the car into neutral, jumped out and got her baby niece out of the car seat to safety. When the car began to roll a little, Jayda used her body to try to stop it and called 911. Kindalynn calls Jayda her Guardian Angel. We call her a true hero.
(Photo, courtesy of the Bell family).
Tim Medvetz, N.J. Native, Helping To Heal Combat-Injured Veterans
Tim Medvetz knows first-hand about descending into hell with pain and depression and how hard it is to climb back out. After being severely injured from a motorcycle accident, the former Hell's Angel member ended up in the hospital with two metal plates (and 20 screws) in his head, a steel mesh cage between his vertebrae, screws in his hand and knee and underwent 13 surgeries (seven screws) to reattach and save his left foot. He could have given up, but he didn't. During a hard convalescence, he was inspired by a book he read about the climb to Mt. Everest and was determined not only to survive but to climb that mountain. Remarkably, years later, he succeeded and has since climbed the highest mountain in each continent. Now, as co-founder of The Heroes Project, he works one on one with America's combat-injured war veterans to help bring them back in mind, body and spirit by conquering the mountain before them -- and inside of them.
-- honored by retired USMC PFC Isaac Blunt, a hero himself seen in the photo (above) in front of Medvetz on his way to the summit of Mt. Everest.
Father's Day Featured Hero: Father Chris Lucas, 27, Died Saving 18 Lives In Joplin, MO
This Father's Day, we honor Chris Lucas, who would have been 33 this year. A hero who is now a Guardian Angel to his family.
85 Year-Old Lindell Marbut Pulls Two Women To Safety In Burleson, TX
Lindell Marbut, who uses a cane to walk, acted quickly when a car took a turn too fast, hit a curb and it ended up upside down and burning on his front lawn in Burleson, TX. While his caretaker Sondra Young ran inside to call 911, Lindell pulled the 22 year-old driver out of the car and into the garage. Then he went right back to the burning car and began hitting on the window with his cane to try to smash the window to get the passenger out. Together with his caretaker, they pulled the second woman to safety before firefighters arrived.
Patricia Maisch, Bill Badger, Roger Salzgeber, Three Of Many Hereos Who Saved Lives In Tucson, AZ
Patricia Maisch, the late Bill Badger (in photo) and Roger Salzgeber were at the Safeway grocery store in Tucson when a gunman opened fire, killing 5 adults and nine-year old Christina-Taylor Green during a meet and greet with U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords (one of 13 injured that day). Badger, a 74 year-old retired Army Colonel and Salzgeber -- who just witnessed his friend Gabe Zimmerman get shot in the head and killed -- didn't hesitate. Salzgeber turned and ran headlong towards the gunman without a thought about his own safety and he and Badger (who had been shot) tackled the shooter, both nearly landing on Maisch as she lay on the ground. Maisch then grabbed the ammo clip away from the shooter. Prior to, Mary Reed was shot three times covering her daughter. Dorwan Stoddard died while trying to shield his wife. Kenneth Dorushka was shot after he pushed his wife out of the line of gunfire, and George Morris was shot as he tried to save his wife who died. Bystander Joseph Zamudio then joined Badge, Salzgeber and Maisch in holding the killer on the ground until law enforcement arrived. Across the parking lot, a 20-year old intern named Daniel Hernandez tended to Giffords and kept her alive by propping her up so she didn't choke on her own blood. There were many other heroes that day as well. We honor them all.
-- honored by Caren Teves
L.A. Judge Craig Mitchell: Rebuilding Lives, One Step At A Time
Five years ago, Los Angeles Criminal Courts Judge Craig Mitchell (pictured above in tank top) founded the Skid Row Running Club, which is now the subject of a new documentary, Skid Row Marathon that just won both the Audience Award and Best Doc at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Early in his life, Mitchell actually considered becoming a priest but went into law instead. Still, he found a way to do God’s work: Before going to work, he goes down to L.A.'s infamous Skid Row and gathers together those battling to maintain sobriety from drug and alcohol addiction (which is heroic itself). And they run. The Club helps them get their confidence back and maintain sobriety. Mitchell then pushes them to get into shape and takes them to run marathons around the globe. His thinking is that one cannot run a marathon without discipline -- and that means maintaining sobriety. Through the Running Club, he has helped scores of people overcome addiction and homelessness. We -- and the hundreds who he has helped get back on their feet – salute Judge Craig Mitchell.
-- honored by Judge Paul Suzuki (photo, courtesy of Skid Row Marathon)
Shanta Jordan Puts Herself Between Boy And Speeding Car, Bridgeport, CT
Shanta Jordan was seriously injured in Bridgeport, CT when she jumped in front of an oncoming, careening car in an effort to save a little boy from being killed. The out of control car slammed into Jordan whose body took most of the impact against a brick wall. Had it not been for her selfless act, the little boy (who is under 10 years old) would not have survived. Both are in the hospital as of June 10, 2017, but are going to survive. We pray for you both. Black Entertainment Television has drawn attention to a Go Fund Me set up to help this hero pay her medical bills. Ms. Jordan, thank you for your bravery and selflessness.