Community Members Recognized at Annual American Red Cross Heroes Breakfast


Acts of courage and selflessness by local community members were honored Wednesday morning during the annual Heroes Breakfast hosted by the American Red Cross.

The event took place at the Florian Gardens in Eau Claire.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald was awarded the Hero of a Lifetime award.

“You can’t do it without a team and I just have the best law enforcement team and the best community around that keeps supporting our efforts and the efforts of everything we do from the Closs investigation to the tornado, to events like national night out our community stands behind law enforcement and that’s all a sheriff can ask for is a community behind you,” said Sheriff Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald said he never gave up on the investigation into finding 13-year-old Jayme Closs and celebrated when she came home safely.

“We all know how good we felt when Jayme came home. I want to bottle that feeling up. I want to take that feeling and use it every day,” said Fitzgerald. “That’s now my new mission is to take that feeling and use it every single day and spread it around Barron County, Northwest Wisconsin and where ever we can.”

Among those honored was Barron county native Chris Kroeze who won the Community Hero award.

Kroeze raised awareness about the disappearance of the Jayme Closs case on a national level while also supporting the Barron community.

“It’s cool. It can be a little overwhelming because anyone that does anyone to help someone it’s not for that reason. To get it is very, very cool but it’s also overwhelming at times but I appreciate it,” said Kroeze.

The Lake Hallie Police Department and Chippewa Fire District were awarded the Healthcare Hero award.

The award, shining light on their dedicated service during the hit and run incident that killed three girl scouts and one Chippewa Falls mother.

“These types of incidents are few and far between and I thank god for that. We succeed as a team, we fail as a team and we heal as a team,” said Deputy Chief Cory Jeffers.

The full list of 2019 heroes:

Ann Dohm, award: Adult Good Samaritan (Eau Claire County)
Hannah Schlafer, award: Youth Good Samaritan (Eau Claire County)
Chris Kroeze, award: Community Hero (Barron County)
Polly Wymer, award: From the Heart Hero (Pierce County)
Lake Hallie Police Department & Chippewa Fire District, award: Healthcare Hero (Chippewa County)
Ed Nemec, award: Military Hero (Jackson County)
Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald, award: Hero of a Lifetime (Barron County)

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