The Oregon Red Cross celebrated the actions and achievements of several local heroes, including Portland Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury, Tuesday morning at its Fred Meyer Breakfast of Champions, a signature event for Red Cross Month in March. The fundraising event was a chance to celebrate those who displayed courage and compassion, while putting aside their own needs, to aid others in trying times.
Jewsbury and the Timbers, along with four other citizens or organizations, were recognized by the Oregon Red Cross for their recent efforts of heroism. Their touching stories of acts of compassion, bravery, excellence and selflessness were shared and each was the recipient of their own personalized, custom Wheaties box. After all, Wheaties is "the breakfast of champions."
"It was a privilege to take part in such a spectacular event," said Jewsbury. "To be recognized by the Red Cross for the Joplin disaster relief efforts was truly an honor and I want to again thank the Timbers organization and our great fans for their generosity."
Following the devastating tornado that hit Joplin, Mo., May 22, 2011, Jewsbury and the Timbers partnered with the American Red Cross to assist in fundraising. Jewsbury, a Joplin native, still has close family in that area, some of whom were directly affected by the costliest single tornado in U.S. history. The official death total from the tornado was 160; 990 people were injured. Emergency managers reported damage to 75% of Joplin. In total, nearly 7,000 homes were destroyed and over 850 others were damaged. It has been estimated that it will cost $3 billion dollars to re-build.
Timbers fans rallied to donate money for Red Cross disaster relief through a mobile text-in campaign and with a request for in-stadium donations during the club’s home match at JELD-WEN Field seven days after the tornado struck.
Utilizing the club's “Stand Together” community outreach platform, the Timbers, Jewsbury and fans helped to raise over $11,000 for the American Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts in Joplin, greatly surpassing the nearly $7,000 they raised for Japan earlier in 2011.
Others recognized at the breakfast included the David Douglas High School football team, which showed up in its entirety to donate blood at the Portland Blood Donation Center over the summer. DeOna Bridgeman of Canby, Ore., witnessed a teenage boy being struck by a car and was recognized for her actions in performing citizen CPR until paramedics arrived. Dean and Marcia Howell and their family mobilized to respond to the immediate needs of their community following a rare, but incredibly damaging tornado in Aumsville, Ore., in December 2010. Lastly, Chelsea Carpenter used her CPR training to aid a woman who had collapsed in a parking lot, and offered assistance and emotional support to the woman’s daughter.
"This is our largest charitable event of the year,” said Maree Wacker, Regional Executive of the Oregon Red Cross, on the breakfast. “We celebrate the mission of the American Red Cross; the idea that we can all be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We also honor hometown heroes and we put together an amazing interactive experience for everyone that attends.”
In Oregon, the Red Cross responds to an emergency once every 16 hours, but the Red Cross does much more than respond to disasters. The organization trains everyday people in lifesaving skills. It assists members of the military and their families. It provides transportation to essential appointments for the elderly and disabled as well as warming centers in response to particularly cold nights in the winter. The American Red Cross also educates the community about emergency preparedness and reconnects families separated by war or disaster.
For more on the American Red Cross, or the Oregon Red Cross chapter, visit www.oregonredcross.org.