A teenager puts up a fight to save her baby sister. A husband and wife rescue a man pinned under car. And an 81-year-old regularly donates blood — to the tune of 22 gallons.
These ordinary people who stepped up in life-threatening situations were among 18 people honored Thursday during the 2019 Everyday Heroes recognition, sponsored by the American Red Cross in Utah.
“You’ve inspired others with your good work,” Executive Director Adam Whitaker told the heroes and their families gathered at Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City, “and you’ve helped others be courageous when their moment comes.”
Not surprisingly, many of the honorees were shy about the attention and said they did what anyone would do.
“I don’t feel like a hero," said 14-year-old Josslyn Millam, “but people keep telling me I am.”
On a hot Sunday last July, Millam’s mother stopped at a Midvale gas station and asked her teenage daughter to feed her infant sister in the back seat. While her mother was inside, a man jumped inside the car and took off.
Millam remembers hitting the man on the head, neck, face — anything to get him to pull over. “It was just my first instinct,” she said. “I knew I could either fight back or sit paralyzed.”
The man eventually stopped the car and ran away, and Millam and baby Ivy were reunited shortly thereafter with family.
Many of the heroes were simply in the right place at the right time.
And, in the case of Chris and Keith Judd, with the right tool.
Last May, while working in their family-owned auto shop, Chris Judd, a volunteer emergency medical technician, got an alert on her phone that said a man was trapped under a car. The address was about 100 yards from the shop.
Without hesitation, she called to her husband to grab a car jack — because she knew the ambulance that was on its way probably didn’t have one. Together, they darted across the street and went to work, lifting the car off the man’s chest and getting him out from under the vehicle, all while keeping him calm and reassuring him he would be OK.
“Part of me thinks it’s cool,” Chris Judd said of the recognition, “but it feels awkward, too."
Gary B. Norton has donated 22 gallons of blood with no intention of stopping. The 81-year-old circles the calendar every 56 days — the minimum wait time between whole blood donations — and then willingly rolls up his sleeve to give. He estimates that his O-positive blood has helped as many as 600 people.
“Everyone knows someone who has received blood, but no one thinks about where it comes from,” he said. “I challenge everyone to do it.
During the recognition event, the Red Cross bestowed the Ultimate Sacrifice for Humankind Award posthumously to four Utahns who died in the line of duty, including: North Ogden Mayor and National Guardsman Brent R. Taylor; Draper battalion chief Matthew Burchett; West Valley City code enforcement officer Jill Robinson; and South Salt Lake police officer David Romrell.
Others heroes given community and service awards include:
Sandy Crandell • Volunteer brings hope to Utah cancer patients undergoing treatment.
Samira Harnish • Recognized by the United Nations for work with refugee women.
Francis Rendon • UTA Frontrunner operator rescued autistic child from danger.
Officers Robert Jackson, Lacy Turner, Cade Bradshaw and Sgt. Shawn McKinnon • Kaysville police officers saved a man who set himself on fire.
Matt Stein • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) pilot completes 3,000th rescue mission.
Darren Phillips • Veteran used his military training to stop a man wrestling a Wyoming state trooper.
Chase Hansen • 9-year-old humanitarian touches lives of those less fortunate.