Progress 2011: Your Heroes

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hero: Keith Bolinger

Keith Bolinger

How does a parent begin by telling everyone how very proud we are of our son and why he is our hero? Right now, Keith is deployed in Iraq defending our freedom so we can live and have rights like we do. He went over there proud to serve while leaving behind a family with four small children and a wife to take on all the responsibilites while he is thousands of miles away. Hopefully, Keith will be home soon where he then will come back to his job as a deputy sheriff here in Albert Lea. There too he helps the people of Freeborn County and gladly does his job to protect and serve. We all need to give people like Keith all the respect they have earned and deserve.

With love to our hero.

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Chuck and Marcy Bolinger

Heroes: Albert Lea Police Department and St. John’s Lutheran Home

My most recent heros are the members of the Albert Lea Police Department. After the recent robbery in my store, officer Bob Ethridge arrived in minutes, phoned in a description of the men and in a very short time all three were apprehended. The next day, Deb Flatness spent time with me and returned all of my stolen items and money. Both Deb Flatness and Bob Etheridge couldn’t have been more kind and professional. Other officers searched for my lost checkbook and were involved in the apprehension. Officer Etheridge has stopped in twice since the robbery to check on me. I feel very protected and safe due to the efforts of our police department.

I pray these young men will now be motivated to change and become the productive individuals they were meant to be.

Secondly, my heros are the staff of St. John’s Lutheran Home where my mother spent her last year and a half. I went to St. John’s twice a day for that one and a half years because mom needed encouragement to eat.

There wasn’t anyone from the laundry people, the cleaning staff, nurses, aides, those in the dining room who didn’t do their very best for my mother. The activity staff planned a variety of programs that both mom and I enjoyed.

Chaplain Jeff Laeger-Hagemeister cared for everyone’s spiritual needs. I took mom to the Sunday services. She couldn’t comprehend the message but she enjoyed the music and the hymns.

Albert Lea has a number of fine nursing homes. My experience was with St. John’s. They were instrumental in making that last year and half a happy time for mom and me.

Eloise Adams

Hero: Jeffrey Dahlen

Jeffrey Dahlen

Sgt. First Class Jeffrey Dahlen is the most wonderful father to our beautiful girls, Sierra and Shelbie. He is a caring, loving husband of 14 years. He is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure we are protected and safe. He has been deployed three times with a fourth one coming up. He is also a firefighter and an emergency medical technician for the city of Freeborn. He is the bravest, kindest, most-caring person you would ever meet. He is genuine and true. He is our hero.

Jennifer Dahlen

Hero: Dustin Eggum

My daddy has been in the National Guard for seven years now. He will be turning 25 this month, and I will be turning 2 in April. My daddy is my hero because he is the greatest daddy in the whole wide world. In May he will be going on his third deployment for another year. My daddy is brave and a very strong man. I love you daddy!

Brynna Lynn Eggum

Hero: Waving gentleman

Can a person’s simple greeting, kind demeanor and wish of goodwill make him a hero? I think they can. Sometimes actions do speak louder than words.

For the past 10 years, my daily journey to United South Central High School in Wells has taken me though the town of Alden, just as buses leave to fetch students and the place begins to stir. As my route gradually became routine, I noticed a gentleman walking each day along the main drag, but he didn’t just walk; as traffic passed, he raised his hand in greeting to vehicles rolling by. Curious, I thought to myself. Who is this guy? What’s he doing? Then one day I found myself waving back.

My driving to school and this guy’s waving have continued for years now. Rain or shine, snow or wind, I drive, he walks, we wave. I’ve come to appreciate the good will he sends my way each morning. On a gloomy day, it’s a burst of sunlight; on an icy day, it’s a dry stretch of pavement.

Several years ago as I shopped at a local market, I noticed an oddly familiar figure navigating the aisle ahead of me, his gait clearly identifiable. I approached him a bit warily and blurted, “Excuse me-by chance do you live in Alden?” Naturally a bit surprised, he revealed he did, and when he admitted he indeed walked daily and waved, I explained that I was one of the many who drove past him. He told me he’d been waving for years, that he enjoyed greeting people.

“I appreciate your waving,” I shared with a smile. “Even if I leave the house in a lousy mood, somehow your wave sets things right. It really makes my day. ”

A bit shy, he gazed at me though his thick lenses and said, “And you’ve just made mine, young lady.” Then we nodded in mutual appreciation and went our separate ways.

On the hero scale, I suppose all this waving doesn’t compare much to leaping buildings in a single bound or saving a damsel in distress; nonetheless it is an anonymous blessing I appreciate every day.

I still don’t know this guy’s name; he doesn’t know mine. We meet daily during the school year and for a few seconds each morning, we wish one another well — an anonymous hero who makes my day.

Jane Johnson

Hero: Art Anderson

My husband is my hero, and this story that appeared in the Albert Lea Tribune in October 1999 is why:

By Geri McShane

Tribune lifestyles editor

A traveler is alive today because Arthur and Roselyn Anderson chose to go into an Albert Lea restaurant instead of its drive-through.

The Andersons, of Albert Lea, were headed to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival Sept. 25 when they decided to stop at Burger King for breakfast.

They were just leaving the restaurant at about 9:30 a.m. when a man came running in from the parking lot, yelling “Help me! Help me!”

“I couldn’t believe all the blood,” Roselyn Anderson said. “He was lucky he even made it inside.”

The 29-year-old man had slit his wrist with a razor blade.

Arthur Anderson immediately grabbed the man’s arm and began applying pressure to the wound. He called for a towel and told someone to call 9-1-1.

The ambulance crew, along with Albert Lea Police Officers Don Richter, Rodney Davis and Lt. Glen Larson, arrived at the same time and found a heavy trail of blood as well as several pools of blood on the floor.

“They had to cut off his sweatshirt and T-shirt,” Arthur Anderson said of the man, adding all the while he kept applying pressure. “Finally someone else took over.”

Because of the health risks involved, Anderson was told to go wash his hands twice, then report to the ambulance where attendants put a disinfectant on his hands. He also had had to report to the hospital to be tested.

“I’ve been told everything is good,” he said.

The Andersons never did make it to the Renaissance Festival that day. They told their daughter about the incident and opted instead to watch their grandson play football.

Rose and Art Anderson

Anderson received a special letter of commendation from the Albert Lea Police Department.

Larson wrote, “Your quick action saved the victim’s life. There is no question from the severity of the wound that this subject would have bled to death before the police and ambulance arrived if you had not taken the action you did. You are to be commended for your quick thinking and for putting your own safety aside to save the life of another person.

“As a police officer representing the city of Albert Lea, I take pride in the fact that there are citizens, such as yourself, willing to help in a time of crisis.”

Said Anderson, “It was purely instinct. I didn’t think of anything except trying to save his life.”

The incident is something Anderson has thought a lot about in the past week, and he wonders how the man is doing.

“There are so many questions,” he said. “My minister told me, ‘You were supposed to be there.’”

There were only two other couples in the restaurant when the man came in, Anderson said. He said he was surprised that no one else made a move to help, and that others who came into the restaurant didn’t stop to help. In fact, one man walked right through the blood.

“You don’t realize something like this can happen in Albert Lea,” Roselyn Anderson said.

Rose Anderson

Heroes: Kiester for a Cure

Kiester has a group of heroes, not just a single hero.  The group is known as Kiester for a Cure.  These heroes are Linda Willaby, Rachel Lohberger, Karen Zabel, Sheila Chose, Jodi Willaby, and Lori Schumann.

Lori Schumann passed away this past November after a two-year courageous battle with breast cancer. Lori was very well known in the Kiester community, several surrounding communities, and was a well-known advocate for breast cancer awareness.

It all started out when Lori was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and started treatments. Linda came up with an idea to do a bowling fundraiser. She approached Rachel and Lori, and the planning began. It was first established as Kiester Bowl for the Cure in 2008. Its first event was held in February of 2009 and funds raised were sent to the Susan G. Komen Fund of Minnesota. After their first event, they recognized a need in the surrounding communities for funds and awareness. They changed the focus of the fundraising to benefit local organizations and/or individuals. At this point, the name was changed to Kiester for a Cure. Their focus has mainly been on breast cancer awareness, but they have changed that to include all types of cancer. They have three events planned for this year – the third annual bowling fundraiser in February, a fun run/walk in June, and a community fundraising meal in November.

Kiester for a Cure recently donated proceeds from their February 2010 bowling event to the Naeve Health Care Foundation’s Project Pink. That donation was $12,000. In addition to the Susan G. Koman donation and the Project Pink donation, it also has dispersed funds to individuals who are currently undergoing treatment for cancer. Thanks to these ladies and all the “heroes” of the community who support and donate to these events, many more people will benefit from this in the future, too.

The group is busy finalizing plans for their third annual bowling event which took place the weekend of Feb. 19 and 20 in Kiester. The event has become such a huge success that they had to add additional bowling sessions to their Saturday schedule and a Friday night session! It involves a four-person nine-pin tournament, silent and live auctions, a breakfast on Saturday morning, a supper Saturday night, and a dance at the Kiester Legion following the tournament on Saturday night.

If anyone is interested in making any donations, they can be sent to:

Kiester for a Cure (KFAC)

Box 133

Kiester, MN 56051

Cheri Schuman

Hero: Robert Gillespie

Robert Gillespie

Oct. 12, 2000. My son Robert was dispatched from his duties as an American Embassy guard to assist in the recovery of the dead when 17 people died and 39 were injured in an attack on the American guided-missile destroyer, USS Cole, in Aden harbor, Yemen. Since then Robert has made a career of service to our nation with four combat tours, the latest just last year in Afghanistan. I am proud of his courage and dedication to preserving this nations security and freedom.

George Gillespie

Heroes: Leland and Betty Abben

Leland and Betty Abben are my heroes. Ever since I have been old enough to realize it, everything they told me was correct, even though I used to not realize it.

I have always looked up to them and thought to myself, “I wonder if everyone has parents like mine.” They are both loving, kind, giving and love their family very much. They provided a safe, warm and loving home where everyone was always welcome. My dad got up every day and went to work and my mom worked at home. They have instilled in my brother and sisters in many ways how to live an honest and good life, and we have passed that onto their grandchildren. I am proud to call them my mom and dad, my best friends, my guardian angels, my heroes.

I love you, Mom and Dad … always.

Jane (Abben) Beighley

Hero: Bill Villarreal

My father is my world, he has showed me what seceding means. If you realize what is important in your life and take care of it, everything else falls into place. Your health and family is what you need. It doesn’t matter how much money or valuable things you have. My father has been there for many people and would never turn his back on someone who would ask for his help. My father has a heart of gold followed with brave actions and words to live by. Live life to the fullest and don’t let it pass you by.

Kristin Villarreal

Hero: Debi Hage

Debi Hage, left, and Kindra Holland

My hero is my mother, Debi. She is a kind and a very nice lady. She is always there for you. She gives the best advice. Why my mom is my hero is because she always has been there for me. I always go to her for advice. She has taught me right from wrong. She has helped me through my 20 years. She is the best mom I could ask for. Without her, my world wouldn’t be the same. She helps me with my child when I need her help. She knows how to say the right things and she does give the best advice.

Kindra Holland

Heroes: Holly Carlson and Lee Haines

Lee Haines and Holly Carlson

When I think of the word “hero” there are so many meanings to that word.

My heroes are my parents for giving me the gift of life, loving me and raising me to adulthood and continuing to love and support me.

My other heroes include a long list of people, family and friends, neighbors. My church minister and Sunday school teachers are my heroes. My teachers at school are my heroes for teaching me while I thought I was un-teachable. Having worked in a rest home, all the staff were my heroes, my doctor and dentist are my heroes, the sheriff, police, fire, ambulance, first responders and emergency medical technicians are my heroes. Anyone who does volunteer work is my hero. The military men and women. Anyone who lends a hand to someone in need is my hero.

My other heroes are both of my children, Holly and Lee. I am so proud to be their mom! My daughter has been on a volunteer fire department for seven years as an EMT, trying to help save lives.

My son is in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and is on his third deployment, serving are great country to serve and protect us all. These are my greatest heroes to me!

Debbie Heidemann

Heroes: NRHEG elementary students and the Hagens

I would like to nominate two different groups of people whose work and deeds warrant them as being recognized as “Everyday Heroes.”

First I would like to nominate the children and teaching staff at the New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Elementary School who started a Pennies for Patients program recently. The one-week program increased in value each day, to donating successive nickels, dimes and quarters on succeeding days and ending with dollar donations earning a grand total of $4,736, which was donated to the Geneva Cancer Fund.

Second: I would like to nominate Dwayne “Whitey” and LaJune Hagen who helped start the first cancer auction at Geneva and have continued it for over 27 years — planning and executing a volunteer program and auction to raise funds to fight in the cancer cause.  (Judy, deceased, and Harold Thompson, were also instrumental in helping get the first cancer auction going in Geneva.)

Also included in the nomination would be the auctioners and others who give of their time and money to make each event a successful effort on the part of the area residents.

Whitey Hagen delivered a check for $81,000 on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 16, on behalf of the many cancer fundraisers in our area, to the Eagles Cancer Telethon in Rochester. They are well on their way to starting on their second million dollars in money raised for the cancer cause and cure research.

More than a million dollars has been raised over the past 27 years.

Carole Schember

Daybreakers Kiwanis members and their families and friends participated in the Freeborn County American Cancer Society Bike-A-Thon May 1, 2010. Pictured are members of the Daybreakers Bike-A-Thon Team.

Heroes: 40 Kiwanians

On Fridays I have breakfast with about 40 people I’d consider everyday heroes: the members of Daybreakers Kiwanis Club.

Employed or retired, they all take time to meet, organize events, volunteer and raise money for the vision of the club and of Kiwanis International: changing the world one child and one community at a time.

Daybreakers Kiwanis members and their families participated in Freeborn County’s Relay for Life Aug. 13, 2010. Pictured are members of the Daybreakers Relay Team.

Currently our big fundraiser is popping kettle korn, which we do at a variety of community events in and around Albert Lea. Money raised at these events helps us fund various requests we receive throughout the year, whether the request be from the ARC of Freeborn County, the local Red Cross office or the Salvation Army.

Daybreakers Kiwanis members popping kettle korn for Albert Lea’s July 3 and 4 events. From left: Dick Polley, Dale Shuldes, Orlo Willmert, Paul Ehlers, Julie Ehlers, Rich Hobson and Chuck Anderson.

Our club not only donates money to area groups, but our time as well. Year in and year out we ring bells for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign, help staff one weekend of the Geneva Cancer Auction, a team of members’ ride in the Freeborn County American Cancer Society Bike-a-thon, and a team also walks in the Freeborn County Relay for Life, with assistance from Dave Mullenbach’s Green Hornet of course!

In the last few years, our club joined with the Noon Kiwanis Club to sponsor an Aktion Club through the ARC of Freeborn County. The Aktion Club operates just as any service club would, and our members, along with Noon Kiwanis, help with their events, and they help with ours.

Daybreakers Kiwanis began in 1976 and continues to go strong. We currently meet at 7 a.m., Fridays at the American Legion, 142 N. Broadway, Albert Lea. If you’d like to find out more about our club, please stop by and join us for breakfast!

Jennifer Levisen