When Bill Dress of Richland woke up Thursday morning he knew it was going to be a good day. The sun was shining, it was his 52nd birthday and he was being honored as a Real Hero by the Benton-Franklin Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Dress also was involved in a blood drive, a community cause close to his heart and his whole family.
Thursday was the 10th Red Cross Real Heroes Breakfast held this year at TRAC in Pasco.
"The benefit was to recognize ordinary people from the community for doing extraordinary things to help others," said Jeanne Jelke, local chapter executive director.
Each person or group received engraved medals before an audience of about 600.
"That's the most we've ever had attend," she said. "It was fun for everyone and each (of the) stories is touching and actually uplifting to hear. There's so much negative stuff happening, this is how people should be."
One of those honored was Dress for his work to further the mission of the Red Cross, especially organizing blood drives.
"We got involved with Red Cross blood drives two years ago. We knew it was important, but the more we were exposed to the volunteers and then got to know the Cardiac Kids and their parents, we were hooked," he said.
Cardiac Kids is a nonprofit group children with congenital heart defects and their parents.
The first year Dress offered his family's Kennewick Ranch & Home store several times as a blood donation site, even when they called at the last minute during the Christmas rush.
"It's our busiest time of the year but we made it happen," he said.
Last year, Dress and Ranch & Home sponsored the 12 Days of Giving campaign -- 12 blood drives and a dinner-auction in November which raised $30,000.
"It was a team effort. I just happen to be in the public eye more. My brother, Jeff, and store manager, Clayton Davey, worked extra hours so I could attend meetings, our wives and kids gave up family time. And our phenomenal staff, I can't say enough about them," Dress said.
His goal this year is monthly blood drives.
"I'm really fortunate this business allows us to do things for the community to make it a better place to live. That's really cool," Dress said.
Others honored were:
-- Dan Barton of Pomona, Calif., a truck driver who rescued a young boy wandering down Highway 395 near Eltopia.
-- Rich Conley of Richland, a Hanford firefighter who aided a victim of a self-inflicted gunshot and the person's young son.
-- Shirley Schmunk of Richland who formed Time of Remembrance to bring together families of fallen soldiers.
-- Staff of Ken Serier Memorial Pool in Kennewick for saving the life of a 13-year-old who suffered a seizure while swimming.
-- Sage Sterling and Nicholas Echols, both of Kennewick, who came to the aid of a Kennewick police officer.
-- Capt. Ron Duncan and Firefighter/Paramedic Steve Austin of Fire Department, who restored the hot water service and made improvements to the safety of a senior citizen's home.
-- Malachi Trimble and family of Kennewick who held a fundraiser for the Kadlec Foundation which brought in $6,500.
-- Jer Webster of Pasco who assisted a car accident victim until paramedics could arrive.
-- The late Audrey Ulrich whose passion and drive helped make the Tri-Cities first dog park near Badger Mountain Park a reality.
-- Keegan Shepard and Sheldon Liikala, both of Richland, who rushed for help when they saw a fellow student collapse at school.
-- A special achievement award went to Norma Nunamaker of Richland for her service as a member of Operation Thank You, a group which greets military personnel at the airport, packs care boxes and otherwise recognizes the sacrifices of service men and women.
Everyone attending the Real Heroes Breakfast was asked to make donations to the Benton-Franklin Chapter. Jelke said so far they have totaled almost $53,000, breaking the record of almost $50,000.
"I expect, as more donation envelopes trickle in, we'll add another $1,000 to $1,500 to that total," Jelke said.