DUBUQUE (KWWL) -
Twenty-one eastern Iowans received recognition Tuesday morning at the 11th annual Everyday Heroes of the Tri-States Awards breakfast hosted by the American Red Cross.
KWWL's Ron Steele and his former KWWL co-anchor Bobbi Earles reunited to emcee the event, which drew nearly 250 people.
This year's award winners received recognition for good deeds ranging from saving a life using CPR to helping others through years of volunteering.
"I think it's just critical to recognize the people in the community who really make the community happen, and they are our heroes," American Red Cross of the Tri-States executive director Sue Olsen said. "People who do the little things everyday need to be noticed."
The Everyday Heroes award-winners tend to be very humble individuals, Olsen said.
"They don't think they should be nominated, they push back a little bit," she said, adding they'll often say, "'It's not me! I'm not the hero.' That's what an everyday hero is."
Most of the noteworthy acts of this year's 21 Everyday Heroes award honorees took place within the last year or have been part of ongoing volunteering efforts.
85-year-old Bob Westermeyer's story, however, is a little different.
On a Saturday night in April of 1940, Westermeyer, then 11 years old, was home babysitting his five younger siblings, when a fire broke out.
"He woke up, coughing and gagging from all of the smoke that accumulated in the room," Earles read to the crowd at the awards breakfast. "He then found his way through the house to get all of his five younger brothers and his sisters safely out of the house, and within seconds of them all leaving the home, the house was engulfed in flames."
"It was a terrible night, and luckily it turned out the way it did," Westermeyer recalled. "Most of (my siblings) are here yet. I got two of them missing, two brothers, but outside of that, it's just like any other time something happens: it's to the good, to the bad, and this was to the good for our part. We all got out alright."
People at the time thought Westermeyer should receive an award called the Carnegie Medal, but the award criteria required a recipient to have been injured in the course of heroic action, and Westermeyer had not gotten hurt while rescuing his siblings.
That's why when Westermeyer's son Tim Westermeyer heard about the Everyday Heroes of the Tri-States award, he thought it was about time his dad received the recognition he deserves and nominated him.
"He sometimes doesn't think he did a lot there, but, you know, like I said, I got five aunts and uncles that I spent a lifetime with, knowing that what he did - that was a good thing, you know, for our family to spend a lifetime together with them," Tim Westermeyer said. "If he hadn't done what he did, we could've lost them all."
The 2014 Everyday Heroes of the Tri-States award recipients are:
Sue Balsamo, Volunteer Community Impact
Catherine Basten, Volunteer Community Impact
Billy Brotzman, Workplace Safety
Sarah Browns, Health Care
Karen Fox, Good Samaritan (18 yrs+)
Janelle Garriott, Workplace Safety
Cesar Gonzales, Workplace Safety
Gary Gooder, Volunteer Community Impact
Sarah McDonald Hasken, Good Samaritan (18 yrs+)
Miranda Heiar, Volunteer Community Impact
Erica Johnson, Good Samaritan (18 yrs+)
Scott Knapp, Good Samaritan (18 yrs+)
Stephanie Lange, Health Care
Duane Lanning, Workplace Safety
Doug McKinney, Good Samaritan (18 yrs+)
Mike McMahon, Professional Responder
Marge Meyer, Volunteer Community Impact
Gary Norby, Education
Paul Pettinger, Good Samaritan (18 yrs+)
Logan Schmerbach, Good Samaritan (18 yrs+)
Robert Westermeyer, Fire & Rescue
The American Red Cross of the Tri-States is already accepting nominations for next year's awards. The nominees must live within the chapter's jurisdiction, and it covers Dubuque, Clayton, Allamakee, Winneshiek and Howard counties in Iowa, as well as the city of East Dubuque, Ill. That nomination form is HERE.
Monday, September 1 2014 2:01 PM EDT2014-09-01 18:01:07 GMT
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