The Ottumwa Courier

Opinion

April 20, 2012

Honoring our heroes

Our Opinion

OTTUMWA — We congratulate this year’s Heroes of the Heartland for the Southern Prairie chapter of the American Red Cross — 11 individuals who truly are making life-altering differences for those in their communities and around the globe.

This morning, officials with our local Red Cross chapter and others are honoring Kathy Burris, Dr. Ryan Van Maanen, Jim Keller, Bobby Heriford, Eleanor and Dale Uehling and Al-jon’s Kevin Eklofe, Jeremy Burnside, Leif Stokes, Randall Fisher and Jason Van Antwerp

Over the past few days, the Courier highlighted their efforts — Burris is the loved and admired caregiver/nurse at the McCreery Cancer Center in Ottumwa; Van Maanen is the physician who opened a free medical clinic in Ottumwa and has worked with needy patients in Cambodia; Keller the active retiree who has given his service to a number of activities and programs in Albia, including the creation of a veterans monument in Monroe County; Heriford who risked his own life to save two people from a burning house in Centerville; the Uehlings who nurtured and raised more than 100 foster children over nearly 30 years; and the five men from Al-jon who risked their lives to help a pilot whose plane crashed near the Ottumwa airport.

Of course, they are not alone. There are plenty of heroes in southern Iowa, but the Red Cross wanted to highlight those who don’t receive the kind of attention they deserve.

After all, Red Cross, is in the business of changing lives for the better, but does so without seeking glory or fame. Red Cross volunteers, including many here in southern Iowa, help local families who lose everything in a house fire or other disaster; they connect deployed service members with their families; they offer health, safety and preparedness training; and respond to disasters around the country and the world.

This morning’s breakfast is also a fundraiser for our local Red Cross chapter. And as you can imagine, doing the type of work they do takes money, so the Heroes of the Heartland concept is a great way to raise funds and honor others at the same time.

We look forward to next year’s efforts and hope all southern Iowans will take a moment to nominate someone they believe is making a real difference in the lives of so many others.

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