KNX Heroes – 2009
There’s a lucky Mallard duck happily swimming around Heavenly Pond at Franklin Canyon Park thanks to an intrepid pair of duck rescuers! Anne Turley spotted the wayward Mallard on a Saturday night a few weeks ago at the busy intersection of La Cienega and Pico. It was in the street…frantically drinking water out of a pot hole!! Apparently the duck couldn’t fly…so, Anne herded the duck into a parking lot and managed to throw a blanket over it. She put the duck in the trunk and said… now what? Anne remembered the pond at Franklin Canyon Park where the opening of the Andy Griffith Show was filmed. It’s filled with all kinds of wild ducks…so Anne dropped off her webbed footed friend.
DAVE MOSHER- RIVERSIDE
Dave Mosher/ Riverside
November 19, 2009
Dave Mosher is not one to waste time, especially when there’s a life in danger. Dave says he was visiting a friend in Pomona 2 days before Halloween when his rescue skills were put to the test. Black smoke was billowing from the house, but Dave didn’t give it a second thought, he just headed inside. With smoke and flames everywhere, Dave put his own life in danger as he dragged the man out of the house to safety. Even the fire chief was impressed by Dave’s actions; shaking his hand and calling him a hero.
DENISE TOMEY & BECKY GRAHAM- AGUA DULCE
Denise Tomey & Becky Graham/ Agua Dulce
October 31, 2009
Who says “a horse is a horse”? That’s definitely not the case at Carousel Ranch in Aqua Dulce where the horses are providing therapy for kids with physical and emotional disabilities. Becky Graham and Denise Tomey tell me Carousel Ranch basically started as a hobby. Denise calls it “therapy disguised as fun” and says there’s something special about the animal/child connection. One of their many, many success stories is the little girl born without arms and only 1 leg. That little girl is now a 22-year old successful college student! Both women say Carousel Ranch has not only changed the lives of students, but theirs as well.
SCOTT RAHDER-LOS ANGELES
Scott Rahder/ Los Angeles
October 22, 2009
Dog walker Scott Rahder was doing his usual thing 2 weeks ago, getting ready to take his 4-legged clients on a morning hike in Griffith Park. But everything changed in an instant. Scott found a fellow hiker face down on a steep and remote part of the trail. While the park’s maintenance man called 911 and headed back down the trail to meet the paramedics, Scott started CPR on the hiker and he kept at it non-stop for 30 minutes! After the paramedics arrived and took over, Scott had time to reflect as he walked his dogs. Turns out, the hiker’s father is LA County Fire Captain Guy Favatella and even though his dad didn’t make it, the Captain was so grateful for everything Scott did to help, he nominated him as a KNX Hero of the Week.
KELLY ELLIS-ALTA LOMA
Kelly Ellis, Alta Loma
October 8, 2009
The voice from the movie “Field of Dreams” could have been talking to baseball mom, Kelly Ellis. Kelly is the founder, coordinator and manager of the Challenger Little League in Alta Loma; baseball teams created for kids with special needs who are tired of sitting in the stands. One of Kelly’s sons is in the league and her husband is a coach. Kelly and her husband started the league five years ago and the program has really taken off with more than 50 kids signing up to play baseball at Heritage Park.
WAYNE ELSEY-NASHVILLE, TN
Wayne Elsey, Nashville, TN
October 1, 2009
Wayne Elsey loves shoes and he’s determined to put them on every needy pair of feet around the world. It all started with the 2004 Asian tsunami. The former shoe company president quit his job and founded “Soles 4 Souls”. The charity gives away a pair of shoes to a needy person every 9 seconds. Wayne says everybody has a tie to shoes and everybody knows what it would be like not wearing a pair of shoes. And if you don’t, Wayne suggests you go home barefoot.
Jim Gingrich/ Claremont
September 10, 2009
Oakland firefighter Woody Rich says he wouldn’t have made it off Mt. Whitney alive last month if hadn’t been for Jim Gingrich. After making it to the top of the 14,497 foot peak, Woody says he started feeling the affects of dehydration and altitude sickness. He collapsed on the trail at 13,500 feet. Woody’s hiking buddy, Linda, stayed with him while another friend headed down the trail and found Jim at 12,000 feet who was ready to hit the sack after reaching the summit earlier in the day. Paul Beswick tells me his friend Jim didn’t think twice. Jim hiked 90 switchbacks in 50 minutes then joined Woody’s 2 friends as they stayed up all night keeping him warm and hydrated until a Search and Rescue team arrived.
EDWIN DUTERTE-LOS ANGELES
Edwin Duterte/ Los Angeles
September 3, 2009
Edwin Duterte is all about community and that’s why he started a job networking concept called “Pink Slip Mixers”. It’s kinda like a job fair but then again it’s not. It’s something new that Edwin came up with after losing his job as a real estate construction lender. His friends thought he was nuts. So, he set up a community where everybody helps each other through drinks and appetizers and the idea is catching on. Now you can find Pink Slip Mixers in San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego and Chicago. You might wonder how Edwin is doing. He’s still unemployed and he’s had to move back home with his parents, but he’s committed to “paying it forward” through Pink Slip Mixers.
STAN BROCK-KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE
Stan Brock/ Knoxville, Tennessee
August 20, 2009
For 8 days, they came to the Forum looking for help. More than 6,000 men and women with aching teeth, blurry vision and other health problems they couldn’t afford to get treated. Enter Stan Brock and Remote Area Medical, a non-profit volunteer airborne medical relief corps he founded 24 years ago that helps the needy around the world. You might remember Stan Brock from his days as co-host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom TV series. These days he has other “beasts” to tame…namely long- neglected health issues of the uninsured and unemployed.
MADDIE FALCETTI-SAN DIMAS
August 6, 2009
Maddie Falcetti was enjoying a day in Huntington Beach with her cousins from New Mexico when she had to put her Girl Scout lifesaving training to good use to rescue a small boy who fell off the pier. Maddie says the little boy was playing on the railing when he suddenly slipped and dropped into the ocean. Maddie’s mom, Terri, didn’t know what to think when she heard about the rescue. Terri believes her now and says Maddie is a real hero.
DANA ROSE- WRIGHTWOOD
Dana Rose/ Wrightwood
July 30, 2009
When Dana Rose heard a traffic report about a puppy on the freeway on her way to County-USC Medical Center, she started looking for that puppy and she found the poor, bedraggled thing. Dana took the “Freeway” to her friend and veterinarian Dr. Claus Helsted. Dana risked her own life to rescue Freeway, who’s doing pretty well. But, she needs help with the vet bills and she’d like to find a good family to adopt Freeway who’s really cute and friendly.
HERMAN BERMAN- SHERMAN OAKS
Herman Berman/ Sherman Oaks
July 23, 2009
Herman Berman started the Bagel Brigade 18 years ago as a committee of one. One man picking up day-old bagels from bagel shops in the San Fernando Valley and donating them to schools. The Bagel Brigade now has more than 125 volunteers and the food they give away includes more than just bagels. Volunteers meet at 7 o’clock every morning in a Costco parking lot to pick up food and make deliveries. Now 88 and disabled, Herman has a tougher time getting around, but he’s still enthusiastic about the Bagel Brigade and so are his volunteers.
MERRILL ALPERT- TARZANA
Merrill Alpert/ Tarzana
July 2, 2009
Merrill Alpert refers to her work with Michael as a journey and says she’s probably crazy. But, she feels compelled to help the homeless man she met last summer outside Valley Beth Shalom in Encino. As in making a difference by tossing stranded starfish back into the ocean, one at a time. Merrill says she met Michael on a street corner after he’d been evicted from his apartment building because the owner went into foreclosure. Instead of ignoring him or being afraid, Merrill opened her heart and got Michael a motel room for 2 nights then proceeded to find him a more stable place to live. She settled on a “sober living” arrangement. Merrill continues to help Michael with clothes, food whatever he needs. She says this journey isn’t finished, yet.
JOE CALLEROS- CHINO HILLS
Joe Calleros/ Chino Hills
June 18, 2009
Joe Calleros’s life-and-death incident two months ago on busy Riverside Drive in Chino still gives him chills when he wonders “what if”. Joe and his wife were heading back to work after lunch and a quick detour for yogurt when he noticed something unusual in the road up ahead. Instinct took over as Joe pulled his car into oncoming traffic on Riverside Drive creating a wedge between the speeding cars and the 2-year old boy. When Joe reached the sidewalk, he saw a group of adults running towards him from a block away led by a woman screaming “my baby, my baby!” It seems the boy had wandered out of the yard, unnoticed. Joe still thinks about that day and wonders what would have happened if his wife’s sweet tooth hadn’t prompted them to stop for yogurt.
DIANE LUBY LANE- LOS ANGELES
Diane Luby Lane/ Los Angeles
June 11, 2009
Diane Luby Lane is crazy for classic literature and she wants teenagers to feel the same passion she has for reading. That’s why Diane started a non-profit called “Get Lit”. The idea is to improve teen-literacy at LA high schools through a classical teen poetry group called the “Get Lit Players”. Diane loves to read but found classic literature intimidating in high school. All that changed when she met a group of models in Japan who were reading the likes of Tolstoy, Dante and Shelley. She spent 10 years educating herself on the classics and joined a New York theatre group organized by actress Viveca Lindfors which planted the seed for “Get Lit”.
MICHAEL RAIS- ONTARIO
Michael Rais/ Ontario
June 4, 2009
Michael Rais owns a tire store in Ontario and a couple of months ago as he was heading out to run a lunchtime errand, he noticed the two women sitting on a bus bench near Mountain Avenue and 4th Street. He noticed something else, too. Michael downplays the hero thing, but admits he’s not going to stand by and do nothing when someone is taking advantage of a person who could be your grandmother.
MALIA MAILES- LA CANADA
Malia Mailes/ La Canada
May 21, 2009
Malia Mailes will never forget that day in April when an out-of-control big-rig came barreling down Angeles Crest Highway and blasted through the intersection at Foothill Boulevard before crashing into a bookstore and coffee shop. A father and daughter died in the crash and 12 others were hurt. It was breaking news out of La Canada/Flintridge. Malia had been hoping that day would never come. For her Girl Scout Gold Award, she put together a detailed presentation of the safety problems posed by trucks heading downhill on Angeles Crest highway. There had been a similar crash 8 months earlier. Malia says she came up with 4 solutions to the problem and presented her findings to the La Canada city council a month before the April crash. Malia just got back from Sacramento where she testified before the Assembly Transportation Committee. She’s hoping someday there will be a permanent truck ban on Angeles Crest Highway.
JEREMIAH WEAVER AND WILLIAM WEAVER- TUJUNGA
Jeremiah Weaver and William Weaver/ Tujunga
May 14, 2009
Jeremiah Weaver and his cousin William Weaver were heading home on the 210 freeway one afternoon when they noticed traffic slowing down and cars weaving around something. Turns out, it was a mountain bike that apparently fell off somebody’s car. The teenagers, both high school seniors and both Boy Scouts got home and started checking out the bike. Jeremiah and William contacted the manufacturer and found out the distraught bike owner had already called to order another one upset that his insurance wouldn’t cover the loss. They got his phone number, called him up, and reunited bike with bike owner.
MARIA GARCIA- FONTANA
Maria Garcia/ Fontana
April 30, 2009
When Maria Garcia stopped by a Denny’s restaurant 3 weeks ago for breakfast, little did she realize she’d be performing the Heimlich maneuver to save a man’s life! Maria works for Bausch and Lomb in Rancho Cucamonga and recently received her 2-year CPR-First Aid certification through the company. That training came in handy when Maria and her husband watched as the man at the next table started choking on his pancake breakfast in front of his wife and kids. Maria says she was able to calm the man down as she and her husband worked to clear his windpipe.
ALEX ORONA- SAN BERNARDINO
Alex Orona/ San Bernardino
April 23, 2009
It’s a good thing Alex Orona got off early on Good Friday. As he was coming down Highway 138 from the high desert into San Bernardino, he watched as a car in front of him lost control on a curve. Alex says there were 4 teenagers in the car. They were banged up and confused and he tore his shirt into pieces to use as bandages for their injuries. Highway 138 is a steep and treacherous drive through the San Bernardino mountains. Alex waited until emergency crews got to the crash site before leaving. He says me he’s glad he could help out.
LAURIE GREEN- STUDIO CITY
Laurie Green/ Studio City
April 2, 2009
Laurie Green just knew in her gut that her Grant high school friend Pat Chawky couldn’t be dead despite the memorial for him at the 20th reunion 3 years earlier. And it turns out, Laurie was right. She finally found out the truth when she connected with Pat’s sister on Facebook. Pat is virtually paralyzed. He can lift his legs, but can’t walk. He’s fully aware, but can’t speak; only able to communicate with his thumb. He’d been living a lonely existence at a Canoga Park nursing home for 10 years. Pat who helped Grant high win the city baseball championship in 1986, now has dozens of friends stopping by to visit him at Topanga Yerrace. Laurie even came up with a symbol chart so Pat could communicate using his thumb. But, Laurie downplays any hero talk even though she opened up Pat’s world and raised 15,000 dollars in donations for his care.
PAT CARY- SANTA MARGARITA
Pat Cary/ Santa Margarita
March, 5, 2009
Pat Cary was working on a wood flooring project about 2 weeks ago with his musician-friend, Aaron Scholl, when things turned ugly. There was blood everywhere. The table saw severed 3 arteries, 10 ligaments and 2 nerves in Aaron’s wrist. His hand was just barely connected to his arm. Pat, who’d recently been certified as an EMT, snapped into action. Pat also kept Aaron calm while waiting for the paramedics and came back later to clean up the blood so Aaron’s parents couldn’t freak. Now, Aaron is lead singer with a rock bank called Aedose, he also plays guitar and piano. It took hours of reconstructive surgery, but Aaron’s been told he’ll be able to play again with physical therapy. As for Pat, he’s downplaying the whole hero thing. Aaron’s parents have a nickname for Pat, GA. It stands for guardian Angel.
ASSEMBLYMAN CURT HAGMAN- DIAMOND BAR
Assemblyman Curt Hagman/ Diamond Bar
February 26, 2009
Some people in Sacramento thought the state budget would crash and burn. Instead, it was a car with an alleged drunk driver behind the wheel. It happened last week right around the corner from Assemblyman Curt Hagman’s apartment after a long night of budget talks. The Chino Hills Republican says he dropped his stuff and ran out the door when he heard the crash. The assemblyman’s colleagues took time out from their budget talks to give him a shout out along with hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger. Hagman says it’s a good thing the legislature wasn’t in lockdown that night or there might have been a different ending.
LT. CURTIS MASSEY-PACIFIC PALISADES
Lt. Curtis Massey/ Pacific Palisades
February 19, 2009
You’ve probably heard of Culver City police Lt. Curtis Massey, he was killed last month in a fiery head-on car crash on the Santa Monica freeway by a wrong-way driver. Lt. Massey should have been a KNX Hero a long time ago for his work as a youth DARE officer and mentor for at-risk teenagers and his dedication to the Culver City Santa sleigh program which distributes presents to needy kids. Speaking at the funeral 2 weeks ago, step-father John Davis said Curt’s generosity of spirit bubbled to the surface early in his life. Culver City Police Chief Don Pederson described Curt as a trusted colleague who earned the Medal of Valor for heroism and was selected as Culver City Police Officer of the Year 3 times! At his funeral, Chief Pederson told the story of a young man who made a donation to Curt’s memorial fund.
JOLIE MASON- TARZANA
Jolie Mason/ Tarzana
February 12, 2009
Jolie Mason is the program director of the Los Angeles Radio Reading Service, a small, but vital non-profit, news/talk radio station operating out of a cramped studio underneath a staircase at the Northridge Fashion Center. Jolie says their slogan is “read any good newspapers lately?” because that’s what they do. Volunteers read newspapers, magazines and best selling books 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for more than 750 visually-impaired people living in the San Fernando valley. The LA Radio Reading Service does need help right now. They’ve been off the air since last October when the Sesnon Fire destroyed their transmitter. Jolie says they need to raise 7,000 dollars for a new transmitter. In the meantime, they are streaming online to just a handful of people. One of their listeners, a 94-year old woman, is lost without the LA Radio Reading Service.
RIGOBERTO LIZARRAGA- LOS ANGELES
Rigoberto Lizarraga/ Los Angeles
February 5, 2009
Rigoberto Lizarraga says it was all instinct. When he heard the screeching tires and saw the flying clothes, he made a U-turn and took off after a hit-and-run driver who allegedly mowed down a mother and 2 kids in a marked crosswalk including a baby in a stroller. It happened at Olympic and Bonnie Brae as Lizarraga was heading home after watching the Super Bowl with friends. Lizarraga says he didn’t think twice about chasing the suspect he just wanted to make sure he got a license plate number and a description of both the car and driver. Yudith Ausencio died in the accident, her 5-year old sister and mother both seriously hurt. LA police Captain Ronald Marbrey is crediting the “quick-thinking” Lizarraga for helping them to catch the suspected drunken driver.