The American Red Cross Serving South Central Illinois is honoring extraordinary individuals for their acts of heroism, service and dedication to building a better community.
“In this difficult year, we are extremely honored to recognize these amazing individuals. Each one of these heroes embodies compassion, selflessness and commitment to others in need. Lynn Ehmen and Lori Camacho are two courageous women who have put the needs of others before their own, during a very challenging year,” says Dawn Morris, executive director of the American Red Cross Serving South Central Illinois.
For many years, the Red Cross has honored heroes who embody dedication to the community. As we continue to work hard to put the coronavirus pandemic behind us, we will honor this year’s class of heroes during a virtual event on Thursday, April 29ᵗʰ at 9 a.m. Please visit http://www.redcross.org/hero to register to attend this free event and find more information.
“We are proud and thankful for the dedication that the 2021 Class of Heroes demonstrates every day to serve others. Each of them is making a lasting impact as we continue our road to recovery from this public health crisis,” adds Morris.
The 2021 Class of Heroes in South Central Illinois
Honorees were nominated in 12 community service categories. Heroes were chosen by an independent committee of leaders from the Illinois region in the business and civic community from nearly 200 nominees. The 2021 Illinois Red Cross Heroes include two exceptional individuals from South Central Illinois.
Lynn Ehmen of Springfield is our Essential Services Hero
Lynn Ehmen is a mother of four from Springfield and a member of the Springfield Families Helping Families (SFHF) Facebook group. The group helps connect people in need by linking them with people who may be able to help. Throughout the COVID19 pandemic, Lynn started to see an overwhelming demand for food deliveries within her Facebook group. She wanted to make the process easier for families and began volunteering to fulfill requests.
Lynn raised nearly $20,000 dollars to create a total of 30 micro-pantries. Each pantry looks like a tiny house and is set up like a neighborhood library, except instead of books it’s filled with food. The micro-pantries are open 24/7 with no paperwork necessary to receive food, allowing for anonymous pickup.
As a result of the pandemic, many families have found themselves out of work and struggling financially. These families often do not have access to traditional food pantries, inspiring Lynn to create a resource that anyone could access and avoid food insecurity. She continues to work to expand the program and started a community garden at Washington Middle School last year. The garden continues to grow, and produce is donated to the micro-pantries.
Lori Camacho of Champaign is our Lifesaving Rescue Hero
On Thursday, October 22, 2020, a car drove into a 29-feet deep retention pond in front of Lori Camacho’s condo. Lori, a hospice nurse at Carle Foundation Hospital, knew someone had to help. She jumped in the pond and swam out to the car. The driver of the car was terrified, as freezing water poured in. The woman did not know how to swim. Lori calmly instructed her and was able to pull her out the window. Seconds later, the car sank to the bottom of the pond, and the suction from the vehicle against the water started to pull both women under with it. Lori was able to swim her way to the surface, pulling the driver with her and back towards shore to safety, saving the woman’s life. After the incident, Lori didn’t skip a beat and went on to attend her 9:30 a.m. virtual COVID-19 safety meeting for work. The driver's husband came to Lori's home later that evening and shared with her that his wife had suffered a heart attack while driving and regained consciousness when the car plunged into in the water. Lori’s amazing heroic actions had saved her life.
Thank you to all our generous sponsors of the 2021 Illinois Red Cross Heroes event, including: Better, The Edwardson Family Foundation, Susan & Nick Noyes, KPMG, our media sponsor WAND-TV and many other organizations who have made the Heroes program possible.
About the American Red Cross of Illinois
The American Red Cross of Illinois serves 12.4 million people in 88 counties in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri including Adams, Bond, Boone, Brown, Bureau, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cook, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, DeKalb, De Witt, Douglas, DuPage, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Fulton, Green, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Iroquois, Jasper, Jefferson, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Knox, LaSalle, Lake, Lee, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Marion, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McHenry, McLean, Menard, Mercer, Montgomery, Morgan, Moultrie, Ogle, Peoria, Perry, Piatt, Pike, Putnam, Richland, Rock Island, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, Stark, Stephenson, Tazewell, Vermillion, Warren, Washington, Whiteside, Will, Williamson Winnebago, Woodford. Iowa: Lee, Muscatine, Scott and Van Buren. Missouri: Clark, Lewis, Marion and Ralls. The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit us at Redcross.org/Illinois or visit us on Twitter @RedCrossIL.