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Local Heros

You probably see them around town, in line at the grocery store or maybe you run past them on the trails. They don’t look different from most of us, but they are—because they’re heroes. Inside you’ll learn about our Local Heroes, most of whom were nominated by our readers, and how they contribute to our community. Whether they’re veterans, community organizers or just all-around volunteers, these Local Heroes make life in Central Oregon better for all of us. So if you see these folks around town, give them a high five and say thanks.

The Agent of Change: Josh Cook

In many ways Josh Cook is an unlikely candidate to transform America's moribund health care system An emergency room physician, Cook set out to be a teacher only to find himself practicing medicine despite the fact that he never completed his undergraduate degree - it wasn't required for him to be accepted into medical school. "To me it was a much shorter and direct way to being a teacher." Instead of teaching, he found himself practicing family medicine as a doctor of osteopathy, a more traditional practice that emphasizes hands on medicine and direct contact with patients. Within a few years, Cook made his way to the emergency room and in doing so found his niche. It's where Cook has been for the past 20 or so years, tending to broken bones, delivering babies, treating cardiac cases, performing emergency surgery on car accident victims and everything else that comes with the day-to-day reality of the ER. For the last decade and a half Cook has been the face of emergency room medicine in Prineville where he has served as the both the chief of staff at the Prineville hospital and the emergency room director, overseeing a staff of 12 physicians that covers emergency medical duties in both Redmond and Prinevillle.

'I'm Not A Nurse': Lack of formal training didn't deter this Bend native

Angel Notion, the solitary medical resource for underprivileged families in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, exists because one Bendite decided to make a difference. "Twenty years ago I was living in Bend, and I had an opportunity to vacation to Playa, and the first time I put my feet in the sand, I felt like it was home," said Angel Notion Founder, Lavonna Redman. "I moved my family down here within six weeks." She held many posts in the tourist, Caribbean community, including hotel owner and restaurateur, before concentrating her efforts on humanitarian work. "After a few years, there was something I needed to do for the people," she explained. "So I started a school for special needs children."

There When You Need Them: Commitment binds local search and rescue volunteers

Last November, a climber attempting The Wambat Route in Smith Rock State Park lost his hold and fell hard to a ledge below. Luckily for the climber, the Deschutes County Search and Rescue Mountain Rescue Unit was training at Smith Rock that day. They moved into action and immediately initiated the rescue. "He fell onto a ledge, which is a tricky rescue," said Richard Adler, team member since 2007. "This was the first time we were able to perform a ground-up rescue. It worked perfectly." Adler is one of 118 volunteers on the Deschutes County Search and Rescue crew who devotes hundreds of hours to training and rescue missions all in the name of keeping Central Oregonians safe.

Friends In Foreign Lands: Local nurses travel abroad to volunteer time and energy for those with little resources

Once or twice a year Julie Bostrom, a busy mother of two, leaves behind her children and husband, co-owner of Timberline Mountain Guides, to follow her passion. The St. Charles Hospital emergency room nurse books unlikely destinations for her vacations. Rather than kicking it on a beach, Bostrom prefers to use her time to help others, specifically, impoverished children who are often overlooked by the rest of the world. The veteran nurse regularly travels to far-flung locales in India, the Middle East, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Honduras and China to volunteer for Operation Smile, an international organization that offers reconstructive surgery for children with facial deformities like cleft lips and cleft palates, a condition where the two sides of the face don't fuse in the womb. Such afflictions often severely limit a child's ability to make friends, go to school or even smile.

The Doctor: Clarence Carnahan

It's not that Clarence Carnahan doesn't know what to do with his golden years. Carnahan plays tennis twice a week. He likes to travel and play golf. But the 83-year-old doctor still makes the trip into the Veteran's Affairs (VA) office in Bend once a week to meet with ex-soldiers, some whose service dates back to World War II, to help them deal with the lingering effects of combat. A veteran himself, Carnahan was drafted into the service during the Second World War, but gives little thought to his own service, which he describes as light duty. The men he has treated over the years as a VA psychiatrist are the heroes, Carnahan says.

The Flight Nurse: Deidre Heinrich

Deidre Heinrich wouldn't label herself a hero. In fact, when we told her she was nominated as a local hero, she spent a few minutes trying to convince us why it's her job, not her, that is heroic. But no matter what she says, Heinrich saves people's lives on a daily basis in a profession that was named the most dangerous in America by the Wall Street Journal. Heinrich, who also volunteers her time at many local charities, including the Bethlehem Inn, the Red Cross and the Bend Community Center, works 24-hour shifts as a flight nurse for St. Charles Medical Center. Each morning Heinrich heads to work, she is debriefed with her crew, which includes pilots, respiratory therapists and other flight nurses, and prepares her plane or helicopter for the unknown. Depending upon the day, Heinrich and her three-person team may respond to as many as six calls during a 24-hour period.

The Veteran: Richard "Dick" Gorby

Richard "Dick" Gorby's office in the Deschutes County Parole and Probation building is lined with pictures. A photograph of his father in military dress, a map of wartime Vietnam and photos of Gorby holding plaques, surrounded by veterans, family, friends and the parolees he works with every day. Gorby, a Vietnam veteran - he served as a minesweeper from '63 to '65 - has always been active in veterans affairs. But it wasn't until just 15 years ago when he realized he suffered from PTSD related to the war that he changed his profession from marketing to social services, leaving behind what he called his "money years."

The Jack (or Jill) of all Trades: Jill Hodgson

Jill Hodgson likes to call herself a "broke philanthropist," which is not just funny, but probably also an apt description of her role as a jack-of-all-trades do-gooder in Central Oregon. Her job finds her as the volunteer coordinator at Common Table, downtown Bend's nonprofit restaurant, but her work extends far beyond that role. She's a poet who speaks about social change, she provides a helping hand to the city's homeless youth, helps out with arts education, coordinates neighborhood food growing efforts and, on top of all that, is always looking to help out friends and neighbors who also want to get involved in bettering the community.

The Rescuer: Geoff Frank

When he's outside Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe, the popular water sports store he owns, Geoff Frank keeps a close ear on what's happening just feet from his back door on the Deschutes River. Frank and his employees are in the business of selling, renting and instructing people in the use of kayaks and canoes, but during the summer months, they've taken on an additional responsibility - listening for signs of distress near the Colorado Avenue bridge where floaters have in the past been known to find themselves in trouble.

The Teacher: Robert Tadjiki

Robert Tadjiki spends his days helping special needs students overcome disabilities by making sure that they focus on what they can do. A special education teacher at Bend High School, Tadjiki has been recognized for his outstanding work by the Oregon governor's office. In 2005, USA Today named Tadjiki to its annual teacher all-star list for his innovative approach to instruction. But it was a trip to China that truly expanded Tadjiki's horizons. There he met the director of a local orphanage who was selling traditional Chinese artwork in a public square. Tadjiki introduced himself and learned that the work was the product of Chinese orphans and that the proceeds were used to support the orphanage. The chance encounter led to the formation of a novel non-profit business, EChO (Educating Chinese Orphans) that is building schools for Chinese orphans, a la Greg Mortenson and Three Cups of Tea in Pakistan.

The Soldier: Ryan James Craig

The word "hero" is sometimes applied quite literally, which is the case with Madras native Ryan Craig. He joined the Army after doing a stint as a carpenter and was nearly killed by a sniper's bullet that pierced his combat helmet during a patrol in Kabul. Ryan, 23, was scrambling to assist a pair of injured soldiers after his unit came under fire from insurgents when he was hit. A brawny young man who played both offensive and defensive line for the Madras High School football team, Ryan literally carried the big gun in his patrol, a .308 caliber, Mach 48, designed to pin down enemy soldiers and keep them hunkered.

The Trail Angel: Lloyd Gust is a Pacific Coast Trail hiker's best friend

Lloyd Gust has never met a hiker he didn't like, and he's met a lot. Gust has been hiking the Pacific Crest Trail since 1946, or if you ask him, "back in the stone age." For the past 11 years, Gust has volunteered his time as a Pacific Crest Trail Angel, helping hikers on the trail by providing them with water while also bringing them into Bend and Sisters for medical care, a warm night's rest and plenty of beer, food and entertainment. Each year Gust helps between 200 and 250 hikers who are in need in his area of the trail, which stretches from Windigo Pass, near Crater Lake, to just south of Mt. Hood.

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