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ELKO — There’s a reason why local men and women were celebrated Friday at the Red Cross Real Heroes banquet.

Average citizens were nominated by someone in the community to shed light on the good deeds being done across northeastern Nevada and gave recognition where it was due.

Adult Community Hero and Hero in the Workplace

Manager at JR’s Bar & Grill Ben French was visiting with regular customers one day in February 2011.

Bob Kerth, an 85-year-old Elko resident stood up quickly, choking. French told the Free Press in February that he wouldn’t be able to clear Kerth’s throat without breaking his ribs.

Kerth went unconscious before dropping to the floor. French responded quickly and performed the Heimlich maneuver, saving Kerth’s life.

“That’s something we love to see is someone using their CPR and first aid skills and putting them to work,” said Bailey Billington, disaster response and readiness coordinator with the local chapter.

Military Hero

Les Brown, the president of the POW/MIA Elko Awareness Association was named as the military hero. He was nominated for ensuring family members and members of the military receive the support they need. Billington said he makes sure those returning from their service overseas to leaving on deployment have support.

“I’m humbled to be nominated, but I think there’s better and more deserving people than myself because I don’t consider myself a hero,” Brown said. “I’m just an everyday guy doing what I can do to continue to serve.”

Law Enforcement Hero

Sgt. Matt Locuson and Officer Chris Gevock were awarded as the 2011 Law Enforcement Real Heroes. Billington said they were nominated for pulling a woman out of her house while it was on fire. The fire was in the beginning of September.

Youth Hero

Hannah Barker was nominated as this year’s youth hero for a number of reasons.

When Barker, 12, was traveling with her family, a vehicle in front of them hit a dog. The family stopped to help, and Barker used her own money to pay for the dog’s surgery. In addition to supporting the animal, Barker donated money to help a gentleman going to Africa for a school project.

“She paid for a number of books he was needing to take with him,” Billington said. “She saved money for an orphanage and decided she wanted to donate part of it for helping the dog and paying for his books.”

Firefighter Hero

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The firefighter hero this year went to four individuals — Brian Burgess, James Johnston, Cameron Peek and Dale Coleman.

Coleman, who is a pilot, and the three firefighters helped rescue a woman who was stranded on Angel Lake in July 2010. Although the act of courage occurred outside of the time frame the Red Cross requests the acts of courage happened, Billington said they made an exception for the four men.

“Someone wanted to nominate them so we made a special consideration,” she said.

Unsung Hero

What tends to be the most coveted award, the Unsung Hero award, went to Betsy Basso.

This category is dedicated to people in the community who lend a helping hand every day.

“They don’t do it because they want to get the recognition, they are doing it to help other people and better their lives,” Billington said.

She said Basso was nominated for helping fellow community members and her church organization to ensure that people in need are taken care of.


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