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‘Hometown heroes’ honored

Posted: September 11, 2009 9:35 p.m.
Updated: September 12, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Bonnie the comfort dog yawns as she goes on stage to accept her 2009 Hometown Hero Award in the animal category.

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Valencia resident Daniel Scott Ross underwent a painful and invasive procedure to donate bone marrow to a woman in her 60s who was fighting for her life.

And during a Friday morning ceremony to honor him and several others, he choked back tears as he told his story to an audience of about 180. Like many others, he said he was just trying to do the right thing.

"I don't consider myself a hero," he said. "I was just doing what I was born to do."

The American Red Cross' Santa Clarita district recognized "hometown heroes" who acted in the spirit of bravery or heroism to help others. In all, an eclectic group of 25 people - one as young as 8 - and a dog received honors during the event at the Hyatt Regency Valencia hotel.

Jaeden Brayton, 8, of Santa Clarita, said raising money for a boy injured in a sledding accident he witnessed on Valentine's Day came from the simple desire to help others.

"I just thought it was something that I should have done for him, and it should have been a time to help," Brayton said.

He raised $106 through a Web site that encouraged other children to help the boy injured in Frazier Park.

Bonnie, a Labrador Retriever, helped comfort victims' family members following the Metrolink crash that killed 25 people in Chatsworth a year ago today. She and her owner, Dave Valantine of Santa Clarita, are part of the HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response volunteer group.

Facey Medical Group employees Corrina Penalber, 26 of Granada Hills, and Christina Uriarte, 26 of La Crescenta, were recognized for stopping along the side of the road and assisting a man injured in a car accident until paramedics arrived.

Canyon Country resident Warren Bell, 65, was honored for his mission work in Nicaragua where he taught illiterate children and adults.

"All human beings can act heroically when they choose to, and they do it in many, many ways," said Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca, who was the keynote speaker at the event.

Forty-six nominees were selected for the awards, according to the event's co-chair Terry Stone.

Last year's event raised about $17,000 for the American Red Cross, but district chapter leaders hope the breakfast earns more this year, Stone said.

Those attending paid $50 for a seat or $500 for a table.

Funds from the breakfast, raffles and a silent auction will be used to purchase rescue operation materials, such as cots, lighting, generators, food, water and other supplies, she added.

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