In a year that feels never-ending and like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, it's nice to have a reminder that there are good people doing good things out there.
Events like the American Red Cross San Diego and Imperial Counties' (SDIC) annual Real Heroes Awards is one of those reminders.
The 18th annual event honored seven people and a dog for their embodiment of "the mission and spirit of the Red Cross by saving lives and creating safer, stronger and more resilient communities."
Among them was San Diego Police Department Officer Jonathan Wiese, a 20-year veteran who rescued twin girls after their father intentionally drove his car -- with them inside -- off Sunset Cliffs.
Wiese used a K-9 leash to rappel down the cliff and hoist the girls onto the rocks, likely getting there just in time to save their lives.
For this, Wiese received the Law Enforcement Award from the Red Cross. Members of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department's Engine 22, who also had a major role in saving the lives of those two girls, were honored with the Fire-Rescue Award. SDFD's Captain Tony Jeffreys, Engineer Rob Craig, Firefighter/Paramedic Jens Brombach and Firefighter Darryl Harris received the award.
A hero indeed, Wiese was also honored in 2019 for his response during the Poway Synagogue shooting. The city’s proclamation said the officer’s quick actions there led to the arrest of the shooting suspect at the Chabad of Poway.
For helping members of his community as the coronavirus pandemic took hold of Southern California, handyman Julio Perez was honored with the Community Partner Award. Perez began building wooden picnic tables for businesses impacted by closure orders and forced to move outdoors.
The Red Cross even doled out an Animal Award to Chopper the Biker Dog, a Boston Terrier who rides around on the back of a motorcycle to visit wounded warriors, police officers and other first responders as they recover in hospitals.
Here are some of the other awardees:
- Jim Ehrlichmann received the Gift of Life Award for delivering over 10,000 units of blood as a volunteer for the Red Cross SDIC
- Chris Hamilton Family received the Good Samaritan Award for helping people in a vehicle accident as they traveled through New Mexico
- Dr. Ellen Beck was given the Humanitarian Award for leading a UC San Diego student-run free clinic project that provides health care to the underserved community
- The Military Award was given to Perry Yee, the founder of Active Valor, which gives a purpose to struggling military veterans by pairing them as mentors to children of fallen servicemembers
- High school student Nolan Mejia received the Youth Good Samaritan Award for creating Grocery Grab, a program that offers delivery of groceries for free to senior citizens during the pandemic
The award ceremony was held aboard the USS Midway Museum and streamed virtually in light of the coronavirus pandemic. It was hosted by NBC 7's Monica Dean.