America’s Biggest Heroes of the Year

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Source: KARE 11 / YouTube

Jeremy Bourasa
> Location: St. Paul, Minnesota
> Date: Sept. 24

After firefighter Jeremy Bourasa exchanged wedding vows with his wife Krisa, he bolted from his own wedding ceremony to answer a call for a house fire. Bourasa’s wife is used to life on the fly. The couple had to change their wedding reception venue and chose to hold the event in the St. Paul Park firehouse. After three hours, Bourasa returned to the wedding reception at the firehouse and danced with his new wife.

Phil Baker
> Location: Memphis, Tennessee
> Date: October

Phil Baker is nothing if not persistent. It took him three years, but the Tennessee pharmacist was finally able to change a state pharmacy law to allow people to donate unused prescriptions. Baker is the founder of the Good Shepherd Pharmacy, which donates medicine to those who cannot afford it. Members in the program pay $40 a month and receive their medications at cost or no charge.

Joseph Smith and Missy Lathem
> Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
> Date: Oct. 14

A rare kidney disease put Lilah Joiner’s life at risk, but she was saved when donors Joseph Smith and Missy Lathem came forward to donate a liver and a kidney for her. Three-year-old Lilah was born with a condition called autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease, which causes cysts to develop within the kidneys and can lead to the loss of kidney function. After she was born, her kidney became so enlarged that it posed a risk for liver failure. Doctors recommended a multi-organ transplant. On July 31, 2018, exactly a year after she was put on the list for a transplant, Lilah had two living-donor transplants. Smith, husband of her mother’s best friend, was her liver donor, and family friend Lathem was her kidney donor.

Source: Team Goette / GoFundMe

Ashley Goette
> Location: St. Paul, Minnesota
> Date: Oct. 16-19

Ashley and Andrew Goette were expecting their first child but neither could have expected what would happen to them in October. In the span of four days, Ashley would save the life of her husband and give birth to her son Lennon. The morning of Oct. 16, Ashley was awakened by her husband, who sounded like he was snoring but in fact was gasping for air. She called 911 and paramedics took Andrew to the hospital. Doctors told Ashley Andrew might have severe brain damage. Ashley sat next to her husband and told him she was not going to have the baby until he could hold the child. A few days later, Andrew began to move and awoke with no brain damage. The next day, Ashley started having contractions. Her son was born the following morning.

Source: Courtesy of Paula Godwin

Todd
> Location: Anthem, Arizona
> Date: Oct. 29

A golden retriever named Todd prevented a rattlesnake from attacking its owner, Paula Godwin, in Arizona. The hero dog was bitten in the face by the rattler and taken to a hospital in Anthem where he was treated with anti-venom medication and recovered. Todd’s heroism was acknowledged in October when the dog received the first “Milk-Bone Dog of the Year Honor” at the Streamy Awards in Beverly Hills, California.

Source: Courtesy of KCRA News

Dane Ray Cummings
> Location: Magalia, California
> Date: Nov. 8

As a wildfire encroached on the homes of Magalia, California, in November, trash hauler Dane Ray Cummings was told by his adviser to cut short his route in the northern California town and get out. But Cummings stayed because he knew there were senior citizens along his route who might need help. As it happened, one did — 93-year-old Margaret Newsum, who was alone and recovering from a broken back. Cummings gently put Newsum in his truck and took her out of danger.