DECATUR—“By the time we arrived on the scene that Sunday morning the house was already heavily damaged by fire and smoke. Upon arrival we learned that there was a woman stuck in the second story of the house and immediately I grabbed a ladder climbed up it and was able to rescue the resident. We train really hard and I guess I just didn’t think about it that much, just doing my job, I wouldn’t say I’m a hero.” It may be just another day in the life for Danville firefighter Brock Dieu, but because of his actions in the early morning hours of June 16th, a life was saved, and his department and community took notice.
Dieu was one of seven honorees gathered inside the Decatur Conference Center and Hotel on Thursday night being recognized by the Red Cross during the 5th annual Heartland Heroes dinner.
Dieu was awarded the Valor Hero Award for his actions on that Sunday morning and was joined by 10 and 11 year old Riley Matlock and Grace Shaw for their efforts to raise money for the families suffering from the Oklahoma tornados, Nicholas Scherer and Austin Conour who were being honored for attempting to save the life of a driver who was trapped inside of her car due to an accident, Brian Byers who was being honored for his outstanding work in the community specifically his efforts with the WSOY Community food drive and the $150,000 he helped raise for the Red Cross to assist families and victims of the Oklahoma Tornados, and Ryan Clark, the Mt. Zion resident who saved his aunt after he discovered a natural gas leak inside her home.
“We chose the people as our heroes tonight because they went out of their way to give that extra effort to make other people’s lives better,” Red Cross executive director Carl Baker said. “They are all ordinary people doing extra ordinary things.”
The keynote speaker on Thursday night was Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Central and Western Oklahoma, Janienne Bella. “I’ve served with the Red Cross for 18 years,” Bella said, “and it still amazes me at the generosity of people. I’m glad I was asked to come here and speak to this group of people because it gives me a chance to see them and thank them face to face for all the help we received after the tornadoes this summer.”
In addition to awarding each living nominee with a plaque, two plaques were dedicated to heroes who passed away earlier this year. Don Peterson was honored for donating 22 gallons of blood during his lifetime, and former Pastor B.G. Nevitt was awarded the ‘In Memoriam Award’ for his influential role in the community during his time as head pastor of GT Church. Nevitt passed away this past August after his involvement in a motorcycle accident.
The award winners were chosen through a selection process that first included voting by community members to get them nominated. After the nominations they were then interviewed by a selection committee made up of community leaders; Marilyn Davis from Millikin University, Linda Arends from the Red Cross, Dick Dubs with the Red Cross, John Mahaffey with Busey Bank, and Julie Shafer from Flora Gems.