2023 Northwest Wisconsin Heroes Breakfast March 9, honors local heroes, event sure to inspire

By Laura McGuire, American Red Cross

Every day at the American Red Cross, we see firsthand the remarkable deeds of everyday heroes. Their stories inspire and remind us to never doubt the impact an individual can make in the lives of others.

The Red Cross of Northwest Wisconsin will honor individuals who have shown courage, dedication and unselfish character by their acts of heroism in our community at the Northwest Wisconsin Heroes Breakfast, hosted by Katie Phernetton, WQOW News 18. This year’s award recipients will be honored Thursday, March 9, 2023, at 7:45 a.m. at The Florian Gardens Conference Center, 2340 Lorch Ave., Eau Claire. 

The Northwest Wisconsin Heroes Breakfast honors people making an impact through their bravery, dedication, and humanitarian service. This event grew out of a desire to celebrate local members of our communities living our mission – to prevent and alleviate human suffering. The award breakfast also serves as a fundraising event for programs and services provided by the Red Cross of Northwest Wisconsin.

2022 Health Care Heroes – EMTs from Cadott Area Fire & and Chippewa Falls Fire & EMS.  Left to right: Mark Thomas, CEO, American Red Cross of WI, Brittany Walters, Joel Sternitzky, Christine Naberhaus, Chief Rick Sommerfeld, DeWayne Hanson, Michele Eberle, MJ Thomsen, Executive Director, American Red Cross of NW WI

Chosen across a handful of categories, honorees at the Northwest Wisconsin Heroes Breakfast represent those among us who reflect what is best in our communities. For over 20 years, about 150 local heroes have been recognized and we are thrilled to add to that number.

The 2023 Heroes are:

Adult Good Samaritan:                        

  • John Goodman        

Community Hero:

  • Barron County Ice Rescue Group
  • Justin Bernardin
  • Deputy Heather Hughes
  • Nick Johnson
  • Deputy Erik Sedani

From the Heart (Biomedical):          

  • Louie and Barb Muench

Health Care:                                             

  • Chippewa County Department of Public Health

Hero of a Lifetime:                                

  • Ron Larson


  • Chippewa Valley Technical College ~ Give Vets a Smile Program

Youth Good Samaritan:                      

  • Riley Gaetz   

Heroes are nominated by the public and are chosen by an awards selection committee comprised of local community leaders. Honorees are selected based on the degree to which their actions uphold the values of the Red Cross humanitarian mission and leave a lasting and positive impact on the community.

Mayo Clinic Health System is the presenting sponsor of this incredibly special event. Additional event sponsors include WQOW News-18, EZ New Media, Xcel Energy, Ayres & Associates, Associated Bank and In Memory of Dr. Brad Garber – Sponsored by Julie Garber and Family. This year’s individual Heroes sponsors include Global Finishing Solutions, Group Health Cooperative of Eau Claire, Leinenkugels, Royal Credit Union, Scheels, Security Financial Bank and WESTconsin Credit Union. Additional support sponsors include Market & Johnson, Northwestern Bank, OakLeaf Surgical Group, Prevail Bank, Ruder Ware, TTM Technologies, and Dave and Barb Nelson.

To reserve your seat for this event, visit https://NWHeroes.givesmart.com. Reservations for this event are $45 and all proceeds go toward the Red Cross of Northwest Wisconsin.

For more information, email Abigail Stein at abigail.stein@redcross.org or call 414-403-0984.

Share your BIG heart at the Red Cross UW-Madison blood challenge

By Laura McGuire, American Red Cross

Calling all Badger fans. We need your help in a BIG way – donate blood and help save lives with the American Red Cross.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is participating in the Share your BIG Heart Blood Challenge to help boost the blood supply this winter. Universities across the conference will compete to see who can collect the most lifesaving blood during this competition. If you bleed red and white, you can help the Badgers by donating blood at a series of blood drives scheduled Jan. 20 through Feb. 28, 2023.

Last year, conference universities faced off in a similar blood drive competition. During the series of events, approximately 3,000 lifesaving donations were collected. Donations by schools last year include UW-Madison 741 donations, Michigan State 404 donations, Michigan 913 donations and Penn State 924 donations.

This year at least nine universities are participating in the challenge, and about 4,500 donations will be collected. 

We know Badgers can easily place at the top for helping to save lives. Show your school spirit and encourage all to join in this friendly, fun competition.

As a thank-you, all who come to give blood Jan. 20 through Feb. 28 at the UW-Madison campus for the Big Heart Blood Challenge will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a Wisconsin union terrace chair. This offer is non-transferrable. All participating donors who come to give Jan. 1-31 will automatically be entered for a chance to win an exciting trip for two to Super Bowl LVII in Phoenix! Includes travel, hotel, $500 gift card, pre-game activities and more! Terms apply; visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl. All participating donors who come to give Feb. 1 – 28 will receive a $10 Gift Card by email, thanks to Amazon. And will automatically be entered for a chance to win a trip for two to Clearwater Beach, FL. Includes travel, hotel, gift card and more! Terms: rcblood.org/heart.

A big shout out goes to all sponsors including the UW-Madison Red Cross Club, UW-Madison Libraries, Phi Delta Chi Pharmacy Fraternity, UW-Madison School of Nursing, UW-Madison School of Business and Omega Psi Phi Epsilon Theta. Thank you for your school spirit and for helping to keep blood products on the shelves for patients in need.

The Big Heart Blood Challenge is a chance for students, faculty, staff and alumni to show their school spirit while supporting a great cause. Being an official Badger is about more than just what you learn in the classroom, take an hour to donate blood and help save lives. On Wisconsin!

Those who have not given recently or those who might have never donated before are encouraged to schedule an appointment, however, walk-ins are welcomed.

Upcoming Blood Donation Opportunities:

1/20/2023, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00p.m., Union South, 1308 W Dayton St.

1/23/2023, Noon – 5:00p.m., Memorial Library, 728 State St.          

1/26/2023, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Union South, 1308 W. Dayton St.         

1/27/2023, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., The Health Sciences Learning Center, 750 Highland Avenue 

2/1/2023, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., The Nick, 797 W. Dayton St.       

2/2/2023, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., The Nick, 797 W. Dayton St.       

2/3/2023, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Union South, 1308 W. Dayton St.           

2/9/2023, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Memorial Union,800 Langdon St.

2/10/2023, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Memorial Union,800 Langdon St.         

2/16/2023, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Union South,1308 W Dayton St.           

2/17/2023, 10:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m., Union South, 1308 W Dayton St.           

2/21/2023, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., The Health Sciences Learning Center, 750 Highland Avenue 

2/22/2023, Noon – 5:00 p.m., The Nick, 797 W Dayton St.  

2/23/2023, 11:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m., Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St.           

2/24/2023, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Union South, 1308 W Dayton St.          

Donors of all blood types – especially type O – are urged to make an appointment to give now. Don’t wait. People across the country depend on the generosity of blood donors. Make an appointment to give blood as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org and using sponsor codes Badgers or Bucky to find an appointment on campus or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

First person: learning a new lifesaving skill for the new year

By Colton Pemble, American Red Cross

No one ever expects to be in a situation where CPR is needed, but such emergencies come without warning. For instance, more than 300,000 people die of sudden cardiac arrest each year, according to the American Red Cross.

You can increase the chances of survival for someone in that sudden emergency – whether it’s a loved one or a stranger – by knowing how to properly perform CPR and use an AED.

A participant readies for chest compressions during CPR and AED training recently in the Milwaukee office of the American Red Cross.

I recently had the opportunity to take a CPR, AED and first aid course offered by the Red Cross. Millions of people learn these skills through Red Cross classes or people trained by the Red Cross, including more than 38,000 people last year who were trained in Wisconsin. This was a new skill for me and something I was eager to take advantage of during my internship with the communications department during my studies at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

For my class, I chose a blended class option, which consisted of both an online and in-person portion, which made it very flexible to schedule. The online portion used a mixture of videos and text to teach how to recognize different medical situations and introduce the techniques to respond to them. I learned a lot more than I expected during this part, and it provided enough foundational information to make me feel very comfortable and prepared to attend the in-person portion of the class. 

For the in-person part, I registered for a morning class in Milwaukee. I was really surprised by how small the class size was, with there being about 10 students. This made it so that the instructor could really make sure everyone was learning and everyone there seemed very eager to learn as well. The instructor was also very engaging and had plenty of stories to tell about her own experiences that made the class more interesting.

Going into the class, I was pretty nervous because it was a skill I had no experience with, in practice or faced with someone experiencing a medical emergency. But by the end of it I was met with a large sense of relief that I would now have skills needed to help someone in crisis. 

Because the online portion was able to cover so much material, the in-person part was able to largely focus on hands-on training. In roughly two hours, the class was able to teach the proper technique for CPR, how to use an AED device, how to respond to someone who is choking as well as some basic first aid skills. There was also plenty of time to practice these skills by attempting to revive some CPR dummies and by using practice AEDs. By the end of the class – about three hours in total, including the virtual portion – I had learned a ton and felt as prepared as I could be to possibly have to use these skills in a real-life situation.

In addition to being potentially lifesaving, Red Cross training may fulfill OSHA standards and other workplace requirements. There are also many options for courses so they can easily fit into busy schedules, as well as many training locations. Many other types of courses are offered, for example, some are specialized for pediatric care or for water safety.

To learn more about Red Cross training or to sign up for a class, visit https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class