They approached the podium one by one, each seeming more humble than the one before.
The ceremony was called “Hometown Heroes,” but not one honoree wore Spandex or threw lightning bolts from the stage. They did, however, possess an amazing amount of superpowers.
“I was just doing my job,” “I was doing what I was sworn to do,” “We just wanted to help” were the common thread heard from the 11 finalists who were given plaques and certificates at the Santa Clarita Valley District , American Red Cross Hometown Heroes event.
More than 40 individuals – and one black Labrador – were nominated for the fourth annual honors, held each year on Sept. 11 to honor those lost in the 2001 terrorist attacks on America. The event seeks to recognize those people who go above and beyond to help others. Some of the criteria for nomination include prevention of loss of life of property, community impact, leadership or mentoring and lasting impact.
Nearly 200 people attended the breakfast ceremonies, where Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca delivered the keynote address.
“Every human being has the instinct to act heroically; the question is how many times do you want to do it?” Baca said, referring to an inspirational book he was reading.
The honorees included:
Adult Hero: Daniel Scott Ross, recognized for his donation of bone marrow that resulted in saving a woman’s life. He told the audience he looks forward to meeting the woman, who is being treated at City of Hope and is reportedly doing very well.
First Responder Hero: CHP Officer Cory Saltsman, who rescued a woman from certain trauma and possible death. His actions prompted his superiors to nominate him for a statewide Medal of Valor.
Senior Hero: Warren Bell, a volunteer at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital who participates in Hope of Humanity and its work in Nicaragua.
Adult Hero: Patricia Deyoung, a secretary at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s station who was working when a critical missing person search was launched and found an elderly man matching the description walking along Soledad Canyon Road, miles from where the search was being conducted.
Medical heroes: Corrina Penalbar and Christina Urriate, employees at Facey Medical in Valencia who stopped to help an accident victim, keeping him calm and stable until paramedics arrived.
Youth hero: Jaeden Brayton, who witnessed a young boy sled into a tree and established a website and raised money to help the youngster, who he didn’t know before the accident.
Animal hero: Bonnie, a Labrador retriever from HOPE Animal Assisted Rescue and her master, Dave Valentine, who worked the Metrolink train crash Sept. 12, 2008, providing comfort to victims’ families.
Corporate heroes: The Decontamination Team at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, which includes Robert Hill, Richard Londergan, Steven Wright, Keith Walker, Shelly Colson, Dee Nance, Steve Levesque, Mario Rodriquez, Frank Sabia, Joe Calubaquib, Michael DeWolf, Jerry Ward, Greg Wieczorek, John Hardesty and Darby Kyhi. The team trains to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive incidents in our community.
Educator hero: Cary Quashen, founder of Action Parent and Teen Support Program that helps teens deal with the challenges of drugs and alcohol addiction.
Workplace heroes: Gene Lyon and Darrin Fogel, who sprang into action when a co-worker was overcome and collapsed at their place of business, Specialty Laboratories.
Youth Sports hero: Dave Moreno, who is a volunteer karate teacher at the Newhall Community Center.
Military hero: Matthew Kobel, a graduate of Aviation Ordinance school who was deployed in the Afghan “Enduring Freedom” mission and helped provide victim relief after the Pakistan earthquake.
First Responders heroes: Firefighters Brian Ballentine, Scott Clark and Brian Morgan, who were first on the scene of a rollover accident in Placerita Canyon where a 4-year-old was ejected from the vehicle and the mother was critically injured.