West Sac heroes earn their capes: Senator Dr. Richard Pan’s “Unsung Heroes” celebrated with awards at the State Capitol

By Michele Townsend

20170926_110440Twelve recipients (two of them from West Sacramento!) were awarded their hero capes and senatorial certificates in a small gathering on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at the State Capitol.
Senator Dr Richard Pan, with the assistance of Senator Kevin McCarty, called up each person that has received the Unsung Hero Award for each of the last 12 months. Pan explained why he chose each person and some of the wonderful things that they do for their communities. The heroes then stepped up for photos, handshakes, a beautiful gold embossed certificate… and their red, satin, hero cape…. complete with the “Unsung Hero” logo on it!
Pan explained that “it all started in 2015 when those four college students stopped a terrorist from shooting up a train in France. We got to talking about them being heroes, and how many people in our own community that, on an on-going basis, that really do so much to help our community and bring us closer together.” He wanted to highlight their stories and inspire other people to follow in their footsteps. He said, “The Unsung Hero Program is to shine the spotlight on those wonderful people that do so many great things for their neighborhoods and communities… often without any recognition.” He went on to say, “Through your work, your hobby, your passion… you are making a profound impact. These are the people, along with the people supporting these people, that make Sacramento such an amazing place!”
McCarty reiterated this train of thought when he said, “It is true that we often recognize heroes on the sports fields, heroes in life, and box office…and they do call us honorable…but ordinary people doing extraordinary things… throughout history… those are the ones who have made the biggest difference!”
Among the 12 recipients are two shining West Sacramento residents. Jose (Joe or Jojo) Ramirez, a local youth umpire and referee who is known through sports by several generations throughout the Sacramento area. He is encouraging to kids, and keeping the games fun!
Additionally, Leah Nelson, now 11 years old, was chosen as an Unsung Hero for starting “BecuzIcare” bracelets. These bracelets are handed out for a simple reason: to brighten someone’s day. She simply hands one to someone who looks like they could use some cheering up, and asks that when you see someone who might needs a boost of happiness to please pass it on to them, and ask them to do the same.
Leah told the News-Ledger, “I feel excited that I’m making a difference and that I’m impacting the community.” Leah also has a GoFundMe account on Facebook at HYPERLINK “http://www.gofundme.com/becuzIcare11″www.gofundme.com/becuzIcare11 if you would like to help her continue to spread kindness.
The remaining Unsung Heroes recognized included: Kay Temple Kirk –Program Manager for Gender Health Center, Chariss Fong – Teacher at Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, Carol McNerney – volunteer at Hart Senior Center, Ron Marshall – Volunteer for Sacramento Veteran’s Resources, Shonna McDaniels – Founder of Sojourner Truth Multicultural Art Museum, Dino Alleger – Children’s Bike Programs including safety, repair and events, Teresa Kahl – volunteer docent, ambassador and horticulture assistant for the Sacramento Zoo, Yannina Casillas – advocate with Council on American-Islamic Relations, Jesse Archer – Youth Program Coordinator at the Sacramento LGBT Community Center, and Dr. Vernon Walton – retired pediatrician.
Ramirez summed it up nicely when he said, in part, “I was honored to be among so many great recipients… especially Leah because she is such a young great community legend!”
Congratulations heroes!!
Thank you for being the change that you wish to see in the world.

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