Local heroes honored at annual Red Cross Hometown Heroes breakfast

Lifesavers literal and figurative were honored this morning at an American Red Cross event.

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WALLA WALLA -- Seven local heroes were honored this morning at the fifth annual American Red Cross Hometown Heroes breakfast at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center.

Terry Hackney, executive director the Blue Mountain Chapter of the American Red Cross, welcomed more than 150 guests and recognized the Red Cross Board of Directors, volunteers and event sponsors.

"This is a way for the Red Cross to tell our story and to show what we're doing in the community," Hackney said of the event. "It's also an opportunity to honor people and support the chapter."

Serving as the master of ceremonies, the Rev. Ernie Campbell of St. Paul's Episcopal Church then began the awards portion of the event.

"Today we recognize local individuals for their extraordinary actions that have both literally and figuratively saved lives," he said.

This year, the Red Cross received many nominations of individuals that exemplify service and humanitarianism in action. From the pool of nominees, the selection committee chose four Good Samaritan Award winners:

  • Matthew Gatton and Amanda Teasley work at Eagle Meadows Assisted Living and rescued a resident from a flooded apartment and collapsed roof.
  • Becky Stevenson, an intensive care registered nurse, administered CPR to a man thrown from a four-wheeler in a crash outside of the restaurant where she was having a meal. His life was saved by her actions.
  • Kirk Bauman helped save his father-in-law's life by administering CPR after he collapsed in an isolated field last March. Though he had not performed or practiced CPR for years, it came back to him when faced with an emergency.

The Compassion in Action Award was presented to an individual whose life has exemplified compassion for others less fortunate than herself. This year's recipient was Beverly Thompson, who works as a regional director with Gospel Outreach in the East India/Bhutan region where she spreads health and safety awareness and trains workers in disease recognition and health education.

The Lifetime Service Award honored a woman who has spent her life in social service activities, both on the job and through volunteering. This year's recipient, Lula Belle Washington, a mother of six and a former nurse at Providence St. Mary Medical Center, is active in the Race Unity Coalition and Central Christian Church, among other community organizations. Washington has spent her life helping make the community safer and more comfortable.

The Spirit of the Red Cross Award is given to someone who exemplifies the mission of the organization. The honor went to Matt Schuster, a volunteer firefighter and volunteer ski patroller.

Past Spirit of the Red Cross Award Winner Jill Becker gave the closing remarks and encouraged guests to donate to the local chapter.

"I truly believe that the Red Cross is the foundation of America, of Walla Walla: people helping people in need," she said.

She emphasized that the organization's material aid is not the only support it offers victims of disasters and emergencies.

"In all of my experience, I have found these people need compassion, love, understanding ... and most of all hope."

Lara Goodrich can be reached at laragoodrich@wwub.com.

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