Meet the Class of 2023 Red Cross Heroes — Donate Now and Double Your Impact

Heroes breakfast banner red cross

The Heroes Breakfast is hosted annually by the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago to honor individuals and groups for acts of immense bravery, dedication and service to our community. The class of 2023 Red Cross Heroes is an exemplary group of individuals who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to build better communities, and who have made a lasting impact on others in the process. We hope you will consider joining us to recognize these 16 extraordinary individuals that prove heroes walk among us delivering kindness and making a difference every day.

Please join Chicago’s most philanthropic leaders along with this year’s Honorary Chair, Ed Wehmer, Founder and Executive Chairman of Wintrust, as we honor Tom Wilson, Chair, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Allstate Corporation with the 2023 Heritage Award. The Heritage Award acknowledges the demonstration of long-term commitment to improvement of the lives of others through actions, deeds and philanthropic works in the corporate and civic communities.


When the world seems dark, the stories of this year’s Heroes remind us to be hopeful and to celebrate those who give back. Here are some snippets of their incredible stories: 

  • An athletic trainer who, while chaperoning a school dance, jumped into action to perform CPR on a student in a medical emergency, saving the student’s life.
  • A veteran, who formerly experienced homelessness himself, started an organization to address the needs of all people experiencing homelessness in Chicago by providing them with food, hygiene products, winter clothing and more.
  • Siblings, just six and nine years old, who have volunteered for years preparing hundreds of lunches that they donate to shelters, often using their own allowance to buy the supplies.

Do You Want to Be Part of This Movement of Hope? Support the American Red Cross and Honor Community Heroes

The support of generous donors like you powers the urgent humanitarian efforts of the American Red Cross, ensuring we are there to give hope and care during people’s darkest moments. Make a gift in honor of these Heroes and help provide immediate relief where it is needed most.

Now through May 11, your gift made in honor of the 2022 Class of Heroes will be matched for every dollar donated up to $125,000 thanks to the generosity of the Make It Better Foundation and Edwardson Family Foundation.



See How A Gift of Any Size Could Make an Impact on All Those Who Rely on the Red Cross in Times of Crisis

  • $24 could provide comfort supplies for two families of four. Supplies include basics we take for granted like: deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, facial tissues, wash cloth, shampoo, liquid soap, lotion, comb, razor and shaving cream.
  • $50 could provide a full day of food and shelter for one person. This service includes providing breakfast, lunch and dinner, the costs to mobilize and distribute a cot, two blankets and more.
  • $664 could provide financial assistance for a family impacted by a local disaster, like a home fire. This assistance helps a family purchase items immediately after a disaster, such as food, lodging, clothing and other critical needs.
  • $100 could stock a cart with items to be handed out to wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans in military hospitals. This includes items such as word search books, playing cards, puzzles, reading material, toiletries, ear plugs and reading glasses.
  • $5,000 could cover the cost to deploy a highly trained Red Cross international disaster specialist. Red Cross international disaster specialists are prequalified and pre-trained with specialized skills in specific areas needed for a response operation. A cost to deploy a specialist includes travel, transportation, sleeping accommodations, food and vital technology systems that support the deployment.
  • $10,000 could cover the cost of conducting two Sound the Alarm events. This includes installing around 200 smoke alarms in homes, utilizing an ERV for the day, lunch for the volunteers at the event and a fire safety package for the homes served. 

Meet the 2023 Heroes

Yvonne Blake
Blood Services Hero


Father Hernan Cuevas Contreras
Disaster Relief Hero


Shawn Harrington
Education Hero


Nicole Jackson
Healthcare Hero


Captain Paul Burns, Firefighter Paramedic Michael Modjeski, Firefighter EMT Jeffrey Rich
Firefighter Heroes


Pastor John Zayas
Global Citizenship Hero


Keith Wallace
Community Impact Hero


Officers Alexander Lopez & Andrew Soderlund
Law Enforcement Heroes


Nicole Collins
Lifesaving Rescue Hero


Melvin Bridgmon
Military Hero


Berto Aguayo
Social Justice Hero


Nayomi Melton and Caleb Johnson
Youth Heroes


Tom Wilson
2023 Heritage Award


Your American Red Cross


Every day, in communities big and small, the American Red Cross is at work alleviating human suffering. Powered by a corps of dedicated volunteers and generous supporters — and guided by our fundamental principles — we are there for every imaginable crisis when it matters most:

  • When a family’s home catches fire, the Red Cross provides lodging, food, comfort and more, bridging the gap between despair and hope.
  • When a community is threatened by a disaster, we quickly mobilize to deliver immediate relief including safe shelter, nourishing meals, health services, comfort and more. This critical aid keeps people safe and helps them get back on their feet as quickly as possible.  
  • When a cancer patient is fighting to survive, the Red Cross delivers lifesaving blood, wherever and whenever it is needed. The availability of blood and blood products can mean the difference between life and death.
  • When a service member has an emergency and needs to reach family back home, within mere hours, the Red Cross helps connect them. We provide exceptional care from the day they enlist through their lives as veterans. 
  • When a loved one suffers a health emergency, a trained responder may be close by, thanks to lifesaving courses offered by the Red Cross.
  • When a vulnerable child halfway around the globe is threatened by a deadly yet preventable disease, the Red Cross provides the protective measles and rubella vaccine.

For more than 140 years, the Red Cross has helped neighbors down the street, across the country and around the world. Today, we continue this legacy on a massive scale, aiding an average of 17 people every minute of every day.

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