New Social Advocates Supporting Red Cross Heroes

For the first time in our Red Cross region, and throughout the Red Cross nation-wide, local social media power is pulling together to support the Red Cross and Heroes Awards winners. Using their own digital capital, this new team of Social Advocates will share our Northern Minnesota Region’s Heroes stories of helping others in a great time of need. This work, which the Social Advocates are doing freely as good will for a great cause, will promote the Red Cross mission to alleviate human suffering in times of emergency.

Please join us in welcoming the new Social Advocates. Follow them. Like them. The Social Advocates will be on hand at the 2014 Heroes Breakfast in Minneapolis on June 5. Go here to read more about the 2014 Heroes. Our event hashtag is #MNHeroes14. 

LizLiz Heinecke – Science Extraordinaire | Educator | Writer | Mom

After working in molecular biology research for ten years, Liz Heinecke left the lab to kick off a new chapter in her life as a stay-at-home mom, sharing her love of science with her three kids and journaling their science adventures on her KitchenPantryScientist.com website.  Before long, she was demonstrating science on TV and had co-created KidScience app for iPhone/iPod Touch. Her book, Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (QuarryBooks.com) shares 52 fun science experiments for all ages and will be on shelves Aug.1, 2014.

Liz graduated from Luther College and received her master’s degree in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. You can find her at home in Minnesota, wrangling her kids, writing for her website, updating KidScience app, teaching microbiology to nursing students, singing, playing banjo, painting, running, and doing almost anything else to avoid housework.

Follow Liz on Twitter: @KitchPantrySci

Like Liz on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KitchenPantryScientist

Stephen LitelStephen Litel – Writer | Blogger | Father

Stephen Litel is a father of two and a former sports writer who now blogs at Stephen Says. His blog focuses on the pursuit of happiness—acknowledging his own battles with depression—and how only true happiness can come from an internal pursuit, not chasing things outside of yourself. Between writing about happiness, being a parent of an autistic child, stretching his comfort zones and the life lessons learned from each, Litel has a lot to talk about.

Follow Stephen on Twitter: @StephenLitel

 

Aly WallbergAly Wallberg – Healthcare Marketer | Public Speaking Expert | St. Paul Tweetup Coordinator

Aly Wallberg is a communicator, speaker and volunteer. She brings experience in health care, nonprofit development and post-secondary teaching to her current role as Marketing Account Specialist at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. A proud Saint Paulite, she currently coordinates the Saint Paul Tweetup, a casual networking group that meets monthly to celebrate all the fair city has to offer. She has served as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters since 2011. Aly also loves reading, yoga and hanging out with cats and dogs.

Follow Aly on Twitter: @AlyWallberg

Scott JohnsonScott K. Johnson – Diabetes Advocate | Writer | Speaker

Scott K. Johnson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in April of 1980. He has been writing about his struggles and successes with diabetes since late 2004. He is currently blogging at Scott’s Diabetes, working as the Communications Lead, USA for mySugr, and contributing to many other diabetes related projects.

Scott works full time in the diabetes space as a freelance writer, speaker, and consultant, and says, “Living my life and telling my story allows me to bravely advocate for type 1 diabetes awareness and give back to a community that has improved my life in so many ways.” Scott lives with his family near the Minneapolis, MN area.

Follow Scott on Twitter: @ScottKJohnson

Like Scott on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scottkjohnson.diabetes

Tami CabreraTami Cabrera – Small Business Owner | Community Volunteer | Mother | Lover of all Things Cheesecake

Tami Cabrera grew up in the restaurant industry and is the owner of Muddy Paws Cheesecake Co. After moving here from the Chicago area in 1991, Tami could not find the cheesecake she’d grown up with. After searching several years for it, she decided to make and sell her own. She rented a small hourly kitchen and within a year her business had grown enough to leave her job to take the business full-time. Today they produce some of the finest cheesecake in the nation and have won dozens of local awards including Best Cheesecake Minnesota by the viewers of WCCO. She has been featured on the Food Network, WCCO, Kare 11, Twin Cities Live, and was chosen in 2011 to go to the White House for her work in social media. Cabrera won the Minnesota Social Media Marketer award for 2010. When she’s not at the bakery, she spends time with her four small children, her three dogs, a second small business, and she volunteers at Perspectives Inc. as a guest chef. Tami also is on the Program Advisory Committee at Le Cordon Bleu.

Follow Tami on Twitter: @TJCabrera

Like Tami on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MUDDYPAWSCHEESECAKE

Kevin SchreifelsDr. Kevin Schreifels – Chiropractor | Father | Educator | Blogger | Runner

Dr. Kevin Schreifels is the Owner of Lyn Lake Chiropractic, the Official Chiropractor for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, Clinical Faculty of Northwestern Health Science University, Guest Lecturer at the University of Minnesota on running injuries and prevention, and Blogger on health issues and prevention.

Kevin has run more than 10 marathons, 10K’s and triathalons, and has raced with the Kenwood Cycling Team. His first date with his wife was a run around Lake Harriet. He’s a father of 3 beautiful girls and everyone that knows his family knows that on any given day or weekend they are all either running around the lakes, biking or skiing. Kevin spends a great deal of volunteering at local schools, running clubs and businesses educating people about health and awareness.

Follow Kevin on Twitter: @lynlakechiros

Like Kevin on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LynLakeChiros

Abigail HarrisonAbigail Harrison – Future First Astronaut to Mars | Student | STEM Classroom Educator | Motivational Speaker

Abigail Harrison aka Astronaut Abby is a junior who attends South High School and the University of Minnesota. Abby has a dream to be the first astronaut to Mars. She has taken her dream online and built a community of over 150,000 followers and fans who support her dream. In turn, Abby has setup a worldwide outreach program in which is speaks to schools and events near and far about space, STEM and reaching for dreams. Abby has taken a leadership role in the space community promoting the Future of Space. Recently Abby was invited to give a TEDx talk in Tampa Bay and as she stated in her talk her Tedx dream was that each member of the audience would leave with inspiration to Dream Big, Act Big and Inspire Others.

In Abby’s spare time, she is a committed athlete training year round in gymnastics, loves reading science fiction and has developed a keen interest in extreme sports, such as her recent experiences of bungee jumping and becoming a certified scuba diver. She looks forward to her next experience, which she hopes will be parachuting, parasailing, skydiving or pretty much anything that includes flying.

Follow Abby on Twitter: @AstronautAbby

Like Abby on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AstronautAbby

Jamie HeilJamie Heil – Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse | Blogger | Mom

My name is Jamie and I am the proud mom of four kiddos- two of which were born to me, one of which is 4-legged, and the other is my hubby….because let’s be honest, sometimes husbands take as much work as kids and dogs do! My husband and I have been happily (for the most part) married for 13 years and our girls are in preschool and second grade. Our four-legged daughter is a French Bulldog.

During the week I am a blogger at ToysInTheDryer.com and a social media addict. On the weekends I am a pediatric intensive care nurse. Yes, you read that right, I work on the weekends so I can stay home with my girls during the week. I am a true extrovert, lover of wine, photography, frogs, and the colors pink and yellow.  I am a tom-boy at heart, but don’t mid getting girly every now and then. I really wish I could play the violin.

Follow Jamie on Twitter: @ToysInTheDryer

Like Jamie on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ToysInTheDryer

Our 2014 Heroes Breakfast Honorees

During our annual Heroes Breakfast, we honor people who have demonstrated the American Red Cross mission to alleviate human suffering. This year we recognize six individuals, from across our region, who have performed acts of courage and kindness to help others. Below, we share their remarkable stories with you.

Community Hero: Pat Harris, St. Paul

The Community Award is sponsored by the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and presented to an individual who displayed leadership and commitment to his or her community by making a positive and significant impact.

Pat HarrisIn 2004, Pat Harris and friends sat around a table at Mancini’s in Saint Paul to enjoy steaks and cold beverages when inspiration struck the former St. Paul City Council Member. He would find a way to bring deployed Minnesota troops and their loved ones at home the same simple pleasure of sharing a meal with friends and family.

Soon after, Pat and his fellow community and business leaders founded Serving Our Troops, an organization whose goals are to provide a delicious meal to soldiers and families, to send a message of support from communities, and to promote awareness of Minnesota’s unprecedented military service.

The idea is simple: Pat and team bring delicious steaks around the world to the Minnesota National Guard. Simultaneously the troops’ families enjoy the same meal right here in Minnesota. Smiles and tears are shared at the two feasts, which are connected via live video feed.

Ten years later, Pat and the team continue to orchestrate Serving Our Troops events. To date, over 75,000 steaks have been served around the world, including in Kosovo, Kuwait and Iraq. Pat’s work has gained the attention of First Lady Michelle Obama, who publicly thanked Serving Our Troops in 2012. Pat insists that the true heroes are not himself and his dedicated volunteers, but rather the men and women who serve our country and their families back home in Minnesota.

Youth Good Samaritan Hero: Sydney Book, Red Wing

The Youth Good Samaritan Award is sponsored by the Medica Foundation and presented to a young person who displayed courage and caring upon encountering an unusual, significant, or unexpected incident.

Sydney BookDriving home with her mother from a volleyball game, 15-year-old Red Wing star-athlete Sydney Book was focused on reviewing her athletic performance. When they saw a motorcyclist collide with a vehicle, Sydney’s mother instructed the sophomore to call 911 and to stay in the car.

Though typically obedient, Sydney considered the situation, putting herself in the shoes of the victim’s family. She knew she would want bystanders to help her family as much as possible. Sydney previously trained in emergency care at the Red Cross, so she knew time was of the essence. She jumped out of the car and immediately began helping her mother address the injured motorcyclist’s severed leg, keeping him calm until first responders arrived.

Dakota County Deputy Sheriff Timothy Fletcher nominated Sydney for the Youth Good Samaritan Award for displaying maturity and poise beyond her years by calmly distracting the conscious man as first responders worked on his life-threatening injuries. Deputy Fletcher credited Sydney with delaying the effects of shock, likely saving the man’s life.

Sydney is proud that she contributed to saving someone. The experience has given her a perspective on the fragility of life and inspired her to study to be a paramedic in college.

Military Hero: Dennis Davis, Anoka

The Military Award is sponsored by UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans and presented to an active, reserve or retired member of the Armed Forces or ROTC who acted above and beyond the call of duty.

Dennis DavisSympathizing with the challenges of veterans transitioning to a civilian world, Air Force Reserve Captain Dennis Davis is dedicated to improving the lives and careers of those who serve our country.

A survivor of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from his service at the military’s only mortuary facility, the still active captain was faced with unfair stereotypes that affect many of our service members as they transition to life beyond the military. Determined to eliminate negative associations of veterans in the work place, Dennis began consulting with veterans and employers. He helps connect veterans to jobs by translating the values they bring to prospective employers- integrity, honor, excellence, adaptability, and team orientation.

Dennis has written two books about employment matters and PTSD, Not Your Average Joe: Profiles of Military Core Values and Why They Matter in the Private Sector, and An Epidemic of Distortions- Veteran PTSD (forthcoming fall 2014). He has proposed legislation to improve hiring practices for veterans, and worked tirelessly to make certain military members are adequately represented in the construction of the new Vikings stadium. This small-business owner and father of three is a great example of using negative experiences to improve the lives of many in a positive way.

 Good Samaritan Hero: Zoran Pedisic, Duluth

The Good Samaritan Award is sponsored by CenterPoint Energy and presented to an individual who displayed courage and caring upon encountering an unusual, significant, or unexpected incident.

Zoran PedisicOn November 1, 2013, Lake Superior Warehousing Foreman Zoran Pedisic noticed an elderly man approaching a nearby pier. Zoran was unsure why the man was at the site, until he saw him staring down at the 45 degree water. More than an arm’s length away when 90-year-old Bill Schowalter jumped, Zoran yelled for his co-workers to call 911.

Originally from an island in Croatia, Zoran, a seasoned swimmer, knew the muscle-freezing dangers of the frigid water. Still, without hesitation or concern for his own safety, Zoran leapt into the lake and grabbed hold of Schowalter, keeping him afloat until other members of the workforce pulled them both to safety.

Lake Superior Warehousing President, Jonathan Lamb, was not surprised that Zoran, who he describes as a natural leader of incredible character, was the staff member who saved the day. Although Zoran was given the day off to recover from his heroic actions, he did not want to let down his teammates. He returned to work after taking a hot shower at home.

First Responder Hero: Shane Linehan, Cottage Grove

The First Responder Award is sponsored by St. Jude Medical Foundation and presented to an individual or group of the public service community who went above and beyond the call of duty.

Shane LinehanWhile skiing with his family at Afton Alps, Shane Linehan saw a young snowboarder fall to the ground after completing a run. Because of his emergency training, this former Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy was aware of the signs of cardiac arrest and acted quickly. After administrating CPR, Shane used an AED device provided by Afton Alps and was able to resuscitate the 17-year-old pastor’s son from Wilson, Wisconsin.

In February, Shane assisted the young victim’s family further, by helping them move after a house fire took their home. The family is grateful for their son’s extra lease on life and is thankful to have a friend in Shane.

After the incident, Shane admitted that he recently retired from his position as a deputy sheriff due to issues associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Conquering his fears in a crisis situation has helped Shane to work towards self-healing.

Give Life Hero: Kate Ross, St. Paul

The Give Life Award is sponsored by the American Red Cross North Central Blood Services Region and presented to an individual whose commitment to blood and platelet donation plays a significant role in ensuring the health of patients in our local communities and throughout the country.

Kate RossExhausted from being a full-time student and working full-time, Kate Ross fell asleep at the wheel going 60 mph in December of 2009. A guardrail severed her leg, and she was trapped in her car for an hour waiting for someone to discover her. Despite the trauma of the accident and the loss of her leg on Christmas Day, Kate is a positive, energetic young woman who is determined to give back the resource that helped her through 19 surgeries — life-saving blood.

When lifelong friend and co-worker asked Kate if she wanted to give blood, she was at first hesitant because of a fear of needles. After some gentle coaxing, Kate decided that she had to become a blood donor.

“I’m so grateful for the people who donated blood. If they hadn’t, I might not be alive today,” says Ross. “Four years after my accident, I am very excited to say that I have become a blood donor myself because I know how important it is to give something that means something – the gift of life.”

Kate has since become a regular donor and participated in the American Red Cross’ 12 Hours of Giving Holiday Blood Drive. She is a champion for amputee rights and a force for inspiring others to donate blood to the American Red Cross.

Join us June 5 at 7:30 a.m. at the Hilton in downtown Minneapolis for our 2014 Heroes Breakfast and help us honor our incredible heroes. To purchase tickets click here. For sponsorship details or for more information, please send an email to EventsNorthernMN@redcross.org or call 612-252-1047.

Three Cheers for Paul!

So, the other day, this young man named Paul van Vliet stops by Red Cross offices in Minneapolis and drops off comfort kits for kids. How cool is that? He (Paul) comes up with his own project idea (making comfort kits for kids) and provides them (the kits) to us (Red Cross) so that our disaster relief workers can give the kits to kids affected by disasters (like fires, floods, & tornadoes).

Now, let’s give some credit to us (Red Cross) because we came up with the original comfort kits for adults and children idea, but we rely on motivated and generous peeps like Paul to make this kits and help reduce the suffering of people who escape burning buildings or high waters. Paul’s dad John was on hand for the comfort kits for kids drop off. He took a fine photo of his son Paul (top & bottom) and then sent us a nice note (excerpt below left).

“It was great to meet you at the Twin Cities’ Red Cross office today. Thanks for your interest in my son, Paul’s, Eagle Scout project. It was a wonderful surprise and honor to meet Phil Hansen, an Eagle Scout himself. I know Paul was very impressed and honored by Mr. Hanson’s enthusiastic reaction to his project. And I am sure Paul will remember this day for the rest of his life. Most important, he and I are gratified to know these comfort kits will benefit the littlest and most vulnerable victims of disasters.”

Well, John, we think your son is the bee’s knees. We could not do what we do without him and others like him. We wish Paul many happy days during his next adventure (college) and hope that he will make his way around the world and back to us some time in the future.

Let Our 2012 Heroes Inspire You

The American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region is pleased to present our 2012 Heroes Awards recipients. This year’s honorees include a teenage boy who performed life-saving CPR on his sister, police officers who rescued people from a burning building, and a soldier who stayed in the line of gun fire so that his teammates could seek safety.

Click on each image to see each hero’s story.

Saint Paul resident Sarah Meggitt rescued a woman from Como Lake. One night last October, Meggitt dove into cold water to rescue a woman who was trying to commit suicide. The woman did not want to be saved, but Meggitt stayed and fought to keep the woman’s head above water until professional responders arrived on-scene. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Cloquet student Kody Denison performed life-saving CPR on his 2-year-old sister, who suffered a seizure and stopped breathing at home. A ninth-grade student and hockey player, Denison learned CPR in health class at Cloquet High, which has a long-time commitment to Red Cross life-saving training. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Frank Mackall saved people from a burning apartment complex. Responding to a call involving a woman threatening to start a fire, Officer Mackall arrived early on-scene, finding a fire spreading rapidly through the apartments. With Officer Weinzierl, Mackall rescued six people including a paraplegic who was barely seen because of smoke. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Todd Weinzierl saved people from a burning apartment complex. Responding to a call involving a woman threatening to start a fire, Officer Weinzierl arrived early, finding a fire spreading rapidly through the apartments. With Officer Mackall, Weinzierl rescued six people, including a paraplegic who was barely seen because of smoke. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Ed White of Amery, Wisconsin, performed life-saving actions when a man collapsed at a fitness center. White is among the most active members of the Amery Fire Department. He’s involved with department fundraisers, prevention education, and social activities. White is a hero and an inspiration to many in the Amery community, including two of his children who have joined the Amery fire explorer program and have plans to follow in their dad’s life-saving footsteps. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Brooklyn Park youth Zachary Pierson used life-saving CPR last year to save Robert Meredith, Pierson’s baseball coach. When Pierson saw that Meredith was not breathing, he immediately started giving chest compressions and continued for about ten minutes until first responders arrived. Pierson then helped the emergency responders to the ambulance when his heart stopped again. Doctors later performed heart surgery on Meredith and told him 95 percent of people like him do not survive because rarely is someone close enough to perform CPR during a heart emergency. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Plymouth resident and charity founder LaDonna Hoy  founded Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners (IOCP), a social services charity that helps families in crisis. Hoy was instrumental in guiding IOCP to raise more than $5.5 million dollars that was used to renovate an old grocery store. The store now houses IOCP’s food shelf, case management, mental health resources, financial assistance, computer lab, re-sale shop, and other services that move families from crisis to stability. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Andrew Strege, United States Army soldier and resident of Wyoming, Minnesota,  performed courageous acts while on patrol in Afghanistan last September. A hostile insurgent force ambushed Strege and his squad. In spite of his injury, Strege returned fire, enabling his squad members to seek cover and coordinate movements for his rescue. As a result, Strege lost half of his right leg, but saved the lives of his squad members. While still undergoing rehabilitation and learning how to live with a leg prosthesis, Strege is sharing his experience with others and looking forward to a career in education and law enforcement. (Photo credit: Tommy Hutlgren)

Ham Lake resident Elizabeth Estepp founded Friend 2 Friend, a mobile clothing charity that continues to assist people affected by the Minneapolis tornado. Immediately after a tornado hit North Minneapolis on May 22, 2011, the Friend 2 Friend mobile unit was on-the-ground providing water, hygiene items, gloves, clothing, and other essential supplies to affected people. This past fall, Estepp delivered school supplies, clothing, and meals to more than 200 children and their families in metro area apartment complexes and mobile home courts. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Dolly Ruark of Saint Paul reached a 100-gallon blood donation milestone. Ruark started donating whole blood in the late 1960s. In 1984, Ruark began donating platelets—a blood clotting component with a five-day shelf life—and has continued to do ever since. Donating blood honors her brother who died from complications of AIDS. (Photo credit: Andy King)

American Red Cross Heroes are honored for demonstrating the Red Cross mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. You can support this mission by becoming a Red Cross volunteer, giving financial contributions, or donating blood. Learn more on redcrossmn.org

Meet one of our 2012 Heroes

Elizabeth Estepp, of Ham Lake, Minnesota, is a 2012 American Red Cross Heroes Awards recipient.

One Sunday morning in Ham Lake, Minnesota, Elizabeth Estepp was at church when her pastor challenged everyone.  “He asked us to ask ourselves, if our church disappeared would the community even miss us.” Estepp and some others realized that the answer was no.  To change this, they decided to focus community outreach on bringing clothing to people. But how? Estepp slept, thought, and prayed until an idea formed. “I told my husband, we have a trailer full of junk parked outside. Let’s clean it out.” That was more than two years ago. Since then Friend2Friend, a mobile clothing ministry, has put hundreds of pounds of wear-able used clothing into the hands of people who can’t afford to buy their own.

Friend2Friend, a mobile clothing ministry based in Ham Lake, Minnesota, reaches hundreds of people across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.

For us, Estepp is a hero, helping to provide for people in the face of emergencies. For example, last year on May 22, Friend2Friend responded to the Minneapolis tornado, bringing clothing, toiletries, and water to people who were forced to flee their homes with little or nothing. During regular, non-disaster hours, volunteers are gathering, sorting, and hanging the clothes on racks that will later be transported to twenty church locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. On some nights, says Estepp, more than one hundred people show up. In no time, the racks are empty and ready for new donations. “We have seen so many people struggling for the first time in their lives.” Sometimes, she says, people have found clothes to use for job interviews. “They get jobs and then come back to help.”

Pants on a mobile clothing rack hang from the upper left side, making it easy for people to find a fit.

Watching volunteers prepare donated clothing items for distribution serves as a reminder that helping others takes time and effort. Simply, it’s work. And Estepp recognizes this. “If we didn’t see the definite impact we wouldn’t be able to keep it going.” The impact extends from a homeless person needing a jacket to a widower finally feeling good enough about emptying his deceased wife’s closet. Or to a volunteer feeling worth-less until putting his trailer-pulling skills to work for a worth-full cause. Or to Estepp listening to a question and finding an answer because “this is what energizes me.” She’s making plans too: getting Friend2Friend’s food pantry on wheels.

Estepp and the other 2012 Heroes will be honored at the annual American Red Cross Heroes Breakfast on Thursday, May 24, at Target Field in Minneapolis. The public is invited to attend, help recognize local heroes, and support their local American Red Cross. Tickets and table sponsorships are available online at redcrossmn.org.

Story and photos by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Star Bank shines on Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes

The American Red Cross collected holiday cards throughout the past several weeks for distribution on military bases and hospitals, veterans’ hospitals and other locations in the U.S. and abroad.  More than a million cards were collected this year, bringing the total for Holiday Mail for Heroes to about 4.5 million cards during the past five years. One of the program’s strongest supporters is Star Bank in Eden Prairie. Katie Incantalupo explains why…

Katie Incantalupo (left) and service members helped collect more than 19,000 cards for the 2011 Holiday Mail for Heroes program. Photo courtesy of Star Bank.

The leaders of Star Bank, including both President and CEO Harry Wahlquist and I, have a strong commitment to the mission of the American Red Cross to provide relief to victims of disaster and to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.

We’ve been hosting quarterly blood drives at Star Bank in partnership with North Central Blood Services for about 12 months. Harry is a longtime Red Cross Board Member and I’m a Lifetime Member of the Tiffany Circle Society of Women Leaders within the Red Cross. I was elected to be a member of the National Council for Tiffany Circle in 2010, and my participation in that governing body brought forth the opportunity for me to lead the Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign on a national level for the 2011 holiday season.

Katie Incantalupo (right) and Elena Luca (left), sign Holiday Mail for Heroes cards in Washington, DC. Photo by Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross

I have spoken with many service men and women over the past four months about the Holiday Mail campaign and have heard wonderful stories about how much it means to receive a card when you are serving away from home over the holidays. The card campaign makes a real difference in our service members’ lives. Star Bank hosted a card signing event that was well attended by members of the community, including several local “celebs.” I’m so excited that more than 19,000 holiday cards were signed in Minnesota alone this year!

Katie Incantalupo gets ready to donate blood. Photo courtesy of Star Bank.

It has been an honor to assist the Red Cross in growing awareness and participation on behalf of Holiday Mail for Heroes and I’m thankful that I’ve been able to serve the organization in this way, both personally and professionally.

Katie Incantalupo is a Red Cross volunteer and the Director of Marketing for Star Bank in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The mailbox for the 2011 Holiday Mail for Heroes program is now closed, but Americans wanting to help military members, veterans and their families can visit the Red Cross holiday giving catalog and click on “Help Our Troops.” The online catalog offers symbolic donations to help provide members of the Armed Forces with phone cards and comfort kits as well as assist homeless veterans, among many other options.

One for the money, two for the show

Three to get ready, now go cat go! His shoes weren’t blue or suede, but we were delighted to have Elvis on hand for the 2011 Run for Blood Quarter Marathon & 5K.

Elvis kicked of this year's Run for Blood, helping support the Red Cross. Photo credit: William Kahn/American Red Cross

More than 460 people raced around Lake Harriet in Minneapolis, helping to raise more than $10K for the Red Cross and its humanitarian mission to help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.

Thank you to Mr. Luther Hagen, event founder and all around booster for the Red Cross, and to everyone who helped make this event a great success.

Congratulations!

Our 2011 Red Cross Heroes

Thank you to everyone who helped make the 2011 Heroes Breakfast an outstanding event celebrating remarkable women and men in our community.

The 2011 American Red Cross Twin Cities Area Chapter Heroes Awards were presented during the annual Heroes Breakfast. Photo credit: Andy King/American Red Cross

Any Heroes Out There? Red Cross Wants To Know

We know that every day people perform extraordinary acts of courage. We want to know who they are, especially if they live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.

Why? Because it’s time to nominate people for our annual Red Cross Heroes Awards.

No Red Cross affiliation is needed. The only requirement is that the nominee behaved in way that demonstrates our mission of providing relief to victims of disaster or helping others to prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.

Pretty easy, right? Nominate someone now.