Hometown Heroes honored at breakfast

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The Blue Mountain chapter of the American Red Cross honored local residents at its "Hometown Heroes" annual breakfast this morning.

In addition to awarding nurse practitioner Sarah Scarborough with the Good Samaritan medal, the agency honored four more Walla Walla heroes.

The Law Enforcement award went to Detective Mike Boettcher with the Walla Walla Police Department.

The officer began his career here in 1998, not only with a background as a chaplain but also with an extensive knowledge of computers and technology.

Eventually Boettcher focused on using the Internet to solve local crime cases. He began an intensive effort to build a crime lab at the Police Department.

The resulting forensic lab now benefits as many as 24 agencies and offers Walla Walla law enforcement processing time that has decreased from months to weeks, days or sometimes hours.

There have been dozens of convictions as a result of this lab, with such solid substantiating evidence that only one time has a case gone to court, saving countless tax dollars, police officials said in a nominating letter.

The Spirit of the Red Cross award was given to Blue Mountain chapter employee Mari Meza.

Meza teaches health and safety instruction for the Red Cross and has trained 5,000 people to recognize, respond to and treat medical emergencies during her career.

Meza said she loves it most when her students tell her how they have saved a life -- a husband, a child, a person in an airplane crash or a person pulled from a river.

Dr. Alison Madsen received the Compassion in Action award for her decision to become a physician after seeing the impact of lack of medical care in other countries. Madsen, who grew up in Walla Walla, returned to her hometown to work at Family Medical Center. As a bilingual family practitioner, she sees a number of patients who could not otherwise afford care.

Leading by example earned Maita Hagedorn the Blood Donor Hero medal this morning. For years, Hagedorn served as the local donor drives recruiter and scheduler. "She literally commanded a small army of women (and the occasional man) who baked cookies, made sandwiches, registered donors at the door and served up those cookies and sandwiches to those who had just given the gift of life," according to the Red Cross, sponsors of this award.

She also led by example, donating nearly 31 gallons of blood so far on her life. A well, Hagedorn has served in other capacities for the Red Cross and remains active at local blood drives.

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