Red Cross honors several people for heroism at Modesto breakfast

Awards for heroism - and humility in accepting them - were on display this morning as the Stanislaus County chapter of the American Red Cross honored several citizens and law enforcement personnel at its annual "Heroes" breakfast.

Juan Robles and teenage son Jesse were named "heroes of the year" for rescuing a woman and a young boy from the Tuolumne River at Legion Park in Modesto on April 19.

An Oakdale schoolgirl, Mikayla Wong, was given the "Spirit of the Red Cross" award for her efforts to raise money for the unfortunate through garage sales and collecting recyclable material.

Army Spc. Veronica Alfaro, who grew up in Modesto and lives in Missoula, Mont., was given the military award for courage under fire in tending to civilian victims of the bombing of a convoy in Iraq on Jan. 15, 2008.

Stephen Atkins, a nurse who is patient support coordinator at Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, was given the medical award for his efforts in the emergency room and as a Red Cross volunteer.

Vince Gutierrez, a senior at Johansen High School, was given the Good Samaritan youth award for providing first aid to a man who's car had run into Dry Creek in Modesto.

Deputy Cody Gunsolley of the Stanislaus County sheriff's department was given the Good Samaritan adult award for saving the lives of three people from a fatal head-on collision on Interstate 5 on Dec. 28.

The Good Samaritan Senior Hero award went to Marvis Hood Jr. for his work helping veterans.

Recognized as the Good Samaritan Team Heroes were several members of a Ceres church group who helped rescue several people swept into the surf on the Pacific Coast last year. Two people drowned in the incident.

Charlotte Mills-Washington was recognized as the education hero for her work with troubled and homeless young people in several communities.

Nicole Montroy, who runs the Alley Cat Guardians organization that spays and neuters thousands of stray cats each year, was recognized as the hero for animals.

Modesto police officers David Lewellin and Daniel Phillips were named law enforcement heroes for their role in recovering a 14-year-old girl who had been kidnapped in July 2008.

Sheriff's deputies Juan Alanis and Pedro Zamora were each recognized as workplace heroes for rescuing people from burning apartments in Modesto.

Ceres police officers Derek Perry and Joseph Wren were honored as professional rescuer heroes for pulling a woman from a burning home.

Wren's remarks were typical of many of the award recipients, who humbly said they were merely doing their jobs.

Wren said he happened to answer a radio call for assistance, just as any officer would.

"They're the heroes," he said in accepting his award. "I'm just a working cop."