American Red Cross honors local heroes during annual luncheon

Photo Ricardo Tomboc ( Recipients of the American Red Cross Desert to the Sea Region 5th Annual Inland Empire “Heroes Awards”: (left to right) Alexander Tardy, National Weather Service, Lezdy Rodrigues, Snak Pack Foundation, Cynthia Gonzales, Irene Madrid, Gary Rice, Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water Company, Carol Roquemore, Canine Support Teams, Kristin Kraus, SOAR Charter Academy School, Deputy Destiny Derryberry, SBCSD Big Bear Division, Tyler Reynolds, Riverside City Fire Department, and William Reines, platelet donor.
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On Tuesday, February 18 the American Red Cross Desert to the Sea Region held its 5th Annual Inland Empire “Heroes Luncheon” at the Mission Inn in Riverside. During the luncheon, nine individuals and organizations from the Inland Empire were recognized for their extraordinary actions and for embodying the spirit of the Red Cross mission.

Jeff Pope from Hot 103.9 FM and 101.3 FM was the Master of Ceremonies. Yevette Baysinger, Executive Director for the San Bernardino County Red Cross Chapter, and Lois Beckman, Executive Director for the Riverside County Red Cross Chapter, were present for the recognitions.

The Spirit of Hope Award was posthumously given to 25-year-old Albert Madrid. On March 9, 2019 Albert quickly reacted when he saw a mobile home engulfed in flames in the city of Highland. Albert heard that there were people trapped inside the mobile home. Without hesitation or regards for his own safety, Albert entered the mobile home and was able to wake up a teenager and his grandfather who were sleeping during the fire. Albert then carried two young girls out from another room. However, Albert was not able to escape the flames himself. Albert’s mother Irene Madrid and her daughter Cynthia Gonzales received the award on his behalf. Albert was recognized for his selflessness, bravery and compassion that saved four lives.

Deputy Destiny Derryberry from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Big Bear Division was given the First Responder Hero Award. On March 30, 2019 Deputy Derryberry responded to a medical emergency where she found an unresponsive 72-year-old male. Family members had stopped CPR measures thinking that the victim was beyond saving. However, Deputy Derryberry immediately continued CPR until the fire department arrived and took over the medical emergency. Deputy Derryberry was later notified by the fire department that the 72-year-old victim was breathing on his own and had a normal pulse. Deputy Derryberry was recognized for her heroic and life saving actions in the line of duty.

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Lezdy Rodrigues was awarded the Youth Hero Award. Lezdy is from Colton and attends Grand Terrace High School. Two years ago, Lezdy was diagnosed with brain cancer. Despite this discouraging news, Lezdy has committed his time to helping other kids undergoing cancer treatments. Lezdy launched the “Snak Pack Foundation,” a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing joy to cancer patients at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital. Lezdy raises his own funds for his foundation by selling his art at community shows and doing commissioned art pieces for family and friends. Lezdy was recognized for his humanitarian spirit and giving back in the face of adversity.

Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water (AMSW) and Gary Rice Factory Manager were awarded the Corporate Hero Award. AMSW has been a long-time partner with the Red Cross and has supported its mission through generous financial and in-kind donations. AMSW sponsors several blood drives, their employees volunteer at several events and are always helping people when they need it. AMSW was recognized for their commitment to the community and their support of the American Red Cross.

Kristin Kraus, an administrator at SOAR Charter Academy School in San Bernardino, was given the Good Samaritan Hero Award for lifesaving skills when a teacher’s aide lost consciousness during a cardiac emergency. Unable to find any vital signs, Kristin started lifesaving efforts by applying CPR and connecting an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to the victim. Kristin had to administer a “shock” to the victim’s heart, which reestablished an effective heart rhythm. Kristin was recognized for her heroic use of skills she learned through a Red Cross Training Course to save a life.

Fire Captain Tyler Reynolds from the City of Riverside was given the Animal Welfare Hero Award for his unparalleled commitment to the community and dedication to protecting the welfare of horses in Riverside County. Alex Tardy with the National Weather Service was awarded the Disaster Services Hero Award for his commitment to helping educate and prepare the community in the face of disasters and emergencies. The Canine Support Team, Inc. and Carol Roquemore, Founder & CEO, received the Services to the Armed Forces Hero Award for their commitment to serving veterans and improving the community. William (Bill) Reines was given the Gift of Life Hero Award for his donation of 417 units of platelets over a period of 32 years and for giving the gift of life to those in need.

The mission of the Red Cross is to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. To find out more about the American Red Cross go to or contact your nearest Red Cross Chapter.

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