GIVING THANKS: Iowa Heroes Honored

Some exceptional Iowans were treated to a heroes breakfast Friday.

The annual Heroes of the Heartland event took place at the Hy-Vee Conference Center in West Des Moines. Nine heroes were honored by the Red Cross for everything from giving life-saving CPR to starting an anti-violence group organization.

One of the heroes honored was Chris Ihle of Ames. In July, Chris saw an elderly couple’s car stalled on the train tracks as a train was approaching. Chris pushed the car off the tracks just as the train passed by.

Chris says he was just doing what anyone would have in his position.

“At that point I was already committed to it so you had to see it through. There wasn`t a point where I could have turned back so once I stepped in front of the tracks I had to be there until the end,” says Ihle.

Mike Brinkman was working at Menards in June of 2013 when a customer went into cardiac arrest. Brinkman performed CPR until paramedics arrived. The customers family credits Brinkman for saving their loved ones life.

Lt. Joe Gonzalez was honored not for one act but a career of them. Lt. Gonzalez is a 42 year veteran with the Des Moines Police Department. He also spearheaded the Hispanic Outreach program and is the highest-ranking Hispanic officer in the history of the Des Moines Police Department.

Jasper County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Burdess, Newton Police Officer Adam Herman and Baxter Police Officer Joe Bartello responded to an accident in May of 2013. They found a semi had crashed into a flooded creek. The driver was trapped inside the cab and it was quickly filling with water. All three worked together in the water to help the driver get free and Ofc. Bartello swam into the cab, pulling him to safety.

Angela Albers started Dropz of Hope, an outreach organization to encourage foster care by providing clothing, backpacks, and education for foster kids. The organization also provides childcare to foster parents to have a night out once a month.

DeAnn Hebert started Project Sewing Machine. The East High teacher started the project to encourage students with the question, “What could you have in 40 weeks, a baby or a new sewing machine?” Students help entrepreneur projects and raise money to eventually buy their own sewing machine. The creations such as baby blankets and clothes are donated to local charities.

Calvetta Williams started Mothers Against Violence. The organization was started to prevent violence by education parents and youth of the value of life, self and respect for others. Through the organization, Williams has held community marches, feeds the hungry and organizes back to school rallies.

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