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.

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