ST. GEORGE — What does it mean to be a hero? That was the prevailing question asked during the American Red Cross Heroes Recognition Event for the Southern Utah region held Thursday at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1731 S. Convention Center Drive in St. George.
And the answer? For the nine people and one business and community partner honored at the event it means running towards disaster to help those who are trying to flee; it means recognizing when someone is in danger and doing something about it; it means preparing the next generation of volunteers; it means serving your community as valiantly as you served your country.
The program for the Heroes Recognition Event contained a definition of hero:
A person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities.
And if their service records are any indication, the 2016 recipients are the living embodiment of what it means to be a hero.
The event, which was attended by local and state dignitaries; Red Cross employees, board members and volunteers; and members of the community was emceed by professional public speaker and founder of ShermanSpeaks, Jeff Sherman.
Sherman invoked the spirit of American Red Cross founder, Clara Barton, and asked the audience to think about the Clara Barton, the hero, in everyone, as they paid tribute to the everyday, unsuspecting heroes who made an extraordinary impact on the communities of Southern Utah in 2015.
“Think about the hero you see in others,” Sherman said in his address. “Think about the hero you see in yourself.”
Heroes were nominated for their contributions in several different categories. Recipients were as follows:
Outstanding Community Partner | Smith’s Food and Drug Stores
Smith’s has been partnered with the American Red Cross for decades, information from the events brochure read. The grocery store chain has provided outstanding service to families in need in the aftermath of disaster.
In 2015, Smith’s Food and Drug Stores supported the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, a nationwide initiative to install smoke alarms in homes and educate families on fire safety.
Preparedness Hero | Julie Meron
Emergencies are difficult for all involved including beloved pets and animals belonging to the families affected. Meron is an advocate and educator who helps people learn what to do with their pets in an emergency.
From 2007-2015 Meron has served as a coordinator of the Iron County Area Livestock Rescue.
Community Service Hero | LuAnn Lundquist
The founder and director of the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Society, Lundquist is a tireless advocate for the people in Southern Utah affected by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
In 2012, Lundquist founded the society with her own money and has since become a liaison for patients and caretakers providing classes and care to those in need.
Young Adult Hero | Aryn Feickert
Feickert is a student and star softball athlete at Dixie State University and a member of the American Red Cross board for Southern Utah. Feickert manages to balance her schoolwork and demanding practice and game schedules with volunteerism.
In 2015, Feickert organized the first ever Red Cross Club at Dixie State where she promotes the mission and values of the Red Cross including selfless volunteering.
First Responder Hero | Daniel Nelson
If you are ever having a medical issue on the freeway, you should hope to have Santa Clara Fire Chief Daniel Nelson following you.
In 2015, Nelson was driving near a semitractor-trailer on Interstate 15 in Southern Utah. The truck was weaving in and out of lanes. Nelson put his vehicle and life on the line, getting in front of the large semi to try and stop it. When Nelson was finally successful in pulling the truck over he was able to get the driver to safety where it was determined that he was suffering from low blood sugar and going in and out of consciousness. Nelson’s quick thinking and courage on the road saved the driver’s life along with countless other drivers on the Interstate that day.
Good Samaritan Hero | Michael Kartchner
Compassion was a key word during Thursday’s event and one that could easily be used to describe the heart of Good Samaritan Hero recipient Kartchner, who has spent 19 years as a volunteer for the American Red Cross. A resident of Cedar City, Kartchner has responded to almost every disaster in the Cedar City area during his nearly two decades of service.
Not only has Kartchner responded locally, but he has served on several national disaster deployments. When he is not responding to crisis, Kartchner teaches disaster preparedness for the Red Cross.
Military Hero | Johnnie Johnson
Johnson is a veteran of the Vietnam War, a member of the American Legion Post 90 and a tireless servant to the community. Johnson manages all the flag ceremonies in the community including parades and funerals.
In addition to his work with the American Legion, Johnson gives of his time and talents teaching woodworking skills to the Boy Scouts of America as well as donating his own wood creations to church, scouting groups and other organizations throughout Utah.
Sherman said Johnson is a hero who doesn’t wear a cape, only dog tags.
Johnson received his award to a standing ovation from the crowd.
Family Heroes | Autumn and Britt Shipp
The story of Britton Shipp, who was in a horrific all-terrain vehicle accident in 2014, inspired a community thanks in large part to the writings of his older sister, Autumn Shipp. In her blog entitled “Our Boy Britt,” Autumn Shipp unflinchingly shared the trials and miracles of Britton’s recovery from being in a coma to returning home to his family.
Both Britton and Autumn Shipp along with their supportive family brought hope, courage and a message about the strength of family to Southern Utah. (See more: No Filter: Faith, hope and a key for Britton.)
Britton was also honored with a standing ovation.
Community Impact Hero | Sid Young
In the wake of the devastating floods that took the lives of 13 residents of the communities of Hildale and Colorado City, Arizona, Young, often called Dr. Sid, ran straight toward the disaster in order to provide comfort to the relatives of those who passed. Young offered counseling services not only to family members but elected officials and even Red Cross volunteers who were affected by the events.
The twin cities of Hildale and Colorado City are known as a tight-knit community reluctant to let in outsiders, let alone receive help from them. But through his compassionate service, Young was able to reach out to those in grief and make a huge impact on a community in need.
Lifetime Achievement Hero | Lamont Smith
Retired Kane County Sheriff, Smith served the people of Kane County for 26 years, 20 of those years as their elected sheriff. During his career Smith saw the Sheriff’s Office grow from four deputies to a staff of 50 employees. Smith also saw tragedy during his tenure.
In 2010 one of his deputies was killed in the line of duty, a tragedy that impacted the entire community. Smith acted as a comfort for family and friends of the fallen during their time of need.
“We are all brothers,” Smith said in his address to the crowd.
What does it mean to be a hero?
How do you define a hero? While words like “courageous” and “noble” stand out as defining characteristics found in heroes, other more appropriate words might be “humble” and “grateful” – words which were expressed by many of the 2016 hero award recipients.
Smith said he was both humbled and shocked to be honored, while Nelson was reluctant to define himself as a hero and Britton Shipp was quick to praise the support of his family and community.
“That’s what it is, is the community being so good to me,” Britton Shipp said of earning the award.
For Rich Woodruff, communications director for the American Red Cross Utah Region, being a hero is being an example of the mission of the Red Cross. That mission is to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
“It’s a great event,” Woodruff said of the heroes recognition. “It speaks to the mission of the Red Cross. We celebrate volunteerism, we celebrate donors and it all comes together here once a year.”
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