KNX Heroes – 2008
Dec. 11, 2008
Dean Sexton, Robert Calderon & Ivan Johnson / Oakwood School, North Hollywood
Dec. 4, 2008
Jeff Reeves / Yorba Linda
Nov. 20, 2008
Jeffrey David Brown / Los Angeles
Nov. 13, 2008
Jeffrey David Brown teaches 9th grade Life Skills and Health Sciences at Robert Fulton College Prep in Van Nuys…but his real love is not in the classroom…it’s outside on a half-acre of land dubbed “the farm”. Brown started tending to the farm 7 years ago when it was just a barren, neglected piece of school property…littered with trash. Now it’s thriving vegetable garden helping students earn “service credits” for graduation and helping to feed hungry families in these hard financial times. Right now, the garden is filled with squash, beets, cabbage, onions and strawberries. Jeff tells me they’re hoping to harvest 75-hundreds pounds of fresh veggies this season.
Billy Sheaffer / Long Beach
Oct. 30, 2008
Mike Dwyer & Jason Sandoval / Malibu
Oct. 23, 2008
Just like the action heroes their employer is famous for creating, Mike Dwyer and Jason Sandoval of Jakks Pacific came to the rescue of 2 people when a small plane crashed into the ocean off Malibu 2 weeks ago. Mike actually saw the plane nose dive into the water…Jason heard it, but both of them felt compelled to do something…anything. Mike and Jason hit the water at the same time, but Jason had the surfboard so he got to the plane first…and then both of them helped the two injured men get on board the rescue boat. Funny thing is….Mike is scared of the water.
Troy Zada / Valencia
Oct. 16, 2008
Victor McClinton / Pasadena
Oct. 9, 2008
For Victor McClinton, it’s all about building self-esteem…and having fun at the same time. Victor has been involved with youth sports for 27 years…ever since high school when he volunteered to work with kids at a rec center in Huntington Park. Victor tells me he grew up without a father, so he bonded with his high school coaches…and says he’s just following in their footsteps. At 16, Victor started at the bottom learning how to mark a field…then he moved to coaching basketball, track, soccer and flag football. Now he runs the Brotherhood Crusade Youth Sports League with his wife and two teen-age sons.
Frank and Pat Geraty / Chatsworth
Sept. 18, 2008
Carole Pearson / Inglewood
Sept. 11, 2008
Dr. Jay Grossman / Brentwood
Sept. 5, 2008
Nadine LeBlanc / Los Angeles
Aug. 28, 2008
Nadine LeBlanc suffered unimaginable heartache 7 years ago when her 19-year old grandson, Christopher, was shot to death in a car while waiting to turn at Pico and Curson. He was visiting his grandmother for the summer before starting college. The murder is still unsolved…and police think it was a random act of violence. Nadine decided the best way to honor the memory of her grandson was to speak out against gun violence. Nadine joined Women Against Gun Violence and now spends her time telling her story to students, community groups, parents and kids-at-risk.
Debbie Herot / Granada Hills
Aug. 21, 2008
It all started with a very sick dog and a heartbreaking letter. Debbie Herot tells me the dog and the letter greeted her one Monday morning last month at the ChatOak Pet Medical Clinic in Granada Hills. Debbie read the letter…which had a black string wrapped around it and a cross attached. Etched on the cross were the words “Papa loves Kaiser”. It took about a week, but Debbie says they got Kaiser up on his feet…and then started looking for his owner. Clinic workers put up hundreds of posters and clients searched homeless parks clues. Bob Mikolasko finally showed up at the pet clinic when he read about his dog in the newspaper.
Officer R.J. Garwood & Officer Rick Naughton
Huntington Beach Police Department
August 7, 2008
Officers R-J Garwood and Rick McNaughton aren’t really super heroes, but they can fly! The two police helicopter crew members heard a mother’s desperate 9-1-1 call for help for her choking baby over the scanner…so they landed their chopper in the street. The baby was choking on a piece of chicken pot pie and turning blue…and they knew a helicopter landing was the only way to save the child. Officer Garwood says he made a quick run to the house once the chopper landed in the street. The two Huntington Beach police officers say they were just doing their job…and are glad everything turned out okay.
Brian Henley / Rancho Santo Margarita
July 31, 2008
Brian O’Henley may be a tough guy on the outside, but he’s soft and squishy on the inside. And that’s why he stopped his Harley on busy Batavia Street near Katella in Orange a few months back to help an injured raccoon lying in the middle of the road. Brian tells me when he first rode past the raccoon, he thought it was dead…but the animal raised its head and looked him straight in the eyes. Does he consider himself to be a hero?? Not really, but Brian says he’d stop and help any living creature in need. He’s just glad animal rescue was able to fix up the raccoon’s injured leg and release it back into the wild.
Keith Cox / Beverly Hills
July 24, 2008
A Beverly Hills realtor makes it “real” for teen-agers by building schools in the heart of Africa. Keith Cox is talking about his recent trip to Africa and the Malawi School project. The Beverly Hills realtor is also Reverend Cox…chairperson of the Religious Science International Youth Seminar… Keith tells me they’ve built 5 schools already…and they’ve raised the money to build 5 more. When the 10 schools are finished, Keith says the project will have touched the lives of more than 10-thousand children and 3-thousand adults in a deep and meaningful way.
Bob Harraka / Brea
July 10, 2008
Bob Harraka is the owner of Professional Tutors of America….and he’s been helping kids across the country for 25 years. These days, the Brea resident is focusing on his “Fallen Soldiers” program….which provides free tutoring for any child who’s lost a parent to the war in Iraq or Afghanistan. The former high school math teacher and Vietnam vet tells me the free tutoring program is the least he can do for families who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Since he’s dealing with a government bureaucracy, it’s tough for Bob to get the names of kids who need help. 1-800-TEACHUS will put needy students in touch with Bob.
Chief John Welter, Officer Brett Heitmann, Officer Michael Riddell, Officer Tom Poer
July 3, 2008
Did you see the video?? It’s pretty dramatic….3 window washers dangling from a 10-story building on Harbor Boulevard in Anaheim. Good thing Police Chief John Welter was in his office early that morning getting ready to go on patrol with one of his officers. So, Chief Welter runs across the street, takes the elevator, sprints up a flight of stairs to the roof where the 3 window washers are hanging on for dear life. It’s fortunate the accident took place during a shift change because Chief Welter says there were lots of extra hands around.
Elizabeth Neat / San Pedro
June 26, 2008
Elizabeth Neat tells me she had an epiphany 21 years ago. A speaker at an education conference challenged the attendees to become mentors and Elizabeth took it to heart. From that point on, Elizabeth brought Craig into her family….taking him on hikes, camp outs and to the theme parks with her 2 sons. She also got involved in his education…meeting with his teachers and tutoring him all the way through high school. Is she proud of him? That’s an understatement. Craig is now a corrections officer with L-A County…all thanks to the help he received from a caring adult.
Steve Sanchez / Santa Ana
Brandon Joseph / Anaheim
June 19, 2008
Steve Sanchez and Brandon Joseph work for the El Toro Water District. Last November, they were waiting at the light at Molton and Via Iglesia in Laguna Hills when they noticed something odd…..a car rolling through the red. Sanchez and Joseph didn’t think twice…they stopped their truck and ran to help the man and his panicked kids! The two men called 9-1-1 and also flagged down a passing ambulance…and Sanchez was able to calm the man down by speaking to him in Spanish. Joseph tells me it was all instinct.
Steve Freed / Beverly Hills
June 12, 2008
Steve Freed tells me he’s an executive by profession…but a cowboy by hobby and philosophy. And he’s putting that hobby to good use by raising 50-thousand dollars to fund a cancer research project at Childrens’ Hospital Los Angeles. He’s roping cows on the professional rodeo circuit. So far this year, Steve’s won 65-hundred dollars and he’s already qualified for the World Series of Team Roping in Las Vegas in December. In the meantime, he’s launched a website…Beverly Hills Cowboy dot com…where the public can donate to the cause. Steve even turned his birthday into a fund raising effort. Steve is “this close” to his fund raising goal for cancer research. Last count, the tally was up to 40-thousand dollars.
Brendan Simmons / Hermosa Beach
June 5, 2008
They’ve been friends and surfing buddies since junior high, and that friendship was put the test back in March when Brendan Simmons pulled Nathan Go-kee out of the ocean after a serious wipe-out. It was early in the morning when Brendan and Nathan headed out to catch some waves in Hermosa… When Nathan didn’t resurface, Brendan realized something horrible had happened to his friend…and he paddled about a quarter mile out to get him. Turns out, Nathan broke his neck…and now he’s learning to live in a wheelchair. Brendan continues to help his friend. He’s raising money to convert Nathan’s home to handicapped access with a website…support nathan go-kee dot com. Brendan says it could have happened to any surfer…
Chuck Wackerman / Seal Beach
May 29, 2008
When most 76-year-olds are taking it easy, Chuck Wackerman is hard at work doing what he loves best…teaching music and directing the elite jazz ensemble at McAuliffe Middle School in Los Alamitos. Chuck has been a band director for 52 years! Yes, I said 52 years! Chuck is in the classroom at 6:30 every weekday morning…rehearsing with the kids for 2 hours. On Fridays, he conducts another 2-hour rehearsal. During jazz festival season in the spring, Chuck is the first one at the school loading equipment on the bus. The McAuliffe jazz ensemble competes at festivals all over Southern California and consistently wins first place. So, why does Chuck work himself and the kids so hard?? Former student Nick Jocks says Chuck has inspired many young people to follow in his footsteps as a music director.
Tom Scafidi / Newbury Park
May 15, 2008
Tom is a service porter and shuttle driver at Ladin Lincoln-Mercury Hyundai. Two weeks ago, he dropped off an 81-year old customer at her home, but he was worried because she seemed a little shaky on her feet. Turns out, Tom had reason to worry. When the service advisor at the dealership told Tom he couldn’t reach the elderly customer on the phone, Tom decided to drive over to the house and check on her. It’s a good thing, too…she’d been laying on her back in the front hallway for 24 hours.
Kenneth Leo Wyatt / Compton
May 5, 2008
Kenneth Leo Wyatt and his wife were watching a movie at home 3 weeks ago when they heard a tremendous crashing sound… It was a Cessna 3-10 that lost power while approaching the Compton/Woodley airport and crashed into 3 houses on Cypress Street. Wyatt didn’t think twice…he ran into the rubble of his neighbor’s house…searching for survivors… So guess what? Wyatt ran back in to rescue the pilot’s passenger and he also pulled out his neighbor’s boyfriend. He tried to go back into the rubble for his neighbor, but by that time, the fire department had showed up and successfully rescued her. Wyatt doesn’t consider himself to be a hero…he’s just grateful he was there to help.
Josh Pasewaldt / Thousand Oaks
Apr. 24, 2008
Josh Pasewaldt describes himself as a “taxi driver for dogs.”