'Citizen Heroes' for Inaugural Heroes Game Announced

Nov. 23, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa — A law enforcement officer and a three-time breast cancer survivor have been selected as the Iowa and Nebraska “citizen heroes” as part of the celebration of the inaugural Heroes Game presented by Hy-Vee to be played Friday in Lincoln, Neb.

The football teams from the University of Iowa and the University of Nebraska will square off Friday at 11 a.m. (Central time) inside Memorial Stadium in the first-ever Heroes Game. At halftime, the sellout crowd of 81,000-plus will be introduced to Gary Launderville of Storm Lake, Iowa, and Kathy Griess of Fremont, Neb., who were selected by staff and volunteers of the American Red Cross from field of more than 200 nominations. Each will receive a commemorative gift celebrating their selection by UI Director of Athletics Gary Barta and Tom Osborne, the director of athletics at UN, respectively, during halftime of the game.

Launderville was chosen as the hero from the state of Iowa for his concern for children and for putting community safety ahead of personal safety. A little more than 17 years ago, Gary went on a late-night call as police officer and found a young boy, home alone, eating ice cream bars and playing video games. He immediately called his wife, Sandy, and asked if he could bring the boy home with him for the night.

That decision changed Gary and Sandy’s lives forever.

To date, the couple has fostered 125 children and have adopted seven of those foster children including Scott, the young boy who was left home alone. The adopted children – Scott, Brooke, Ty, Audree, Carman, Charlee and Faith – joined a family of four biological children – Raegan, Angie, JJ, and Ashlie.

Gary’s acts of kindness and compassion have had a profound impact on so many young children’s lives that many to this day still call him “Dad.” His caring also sends a strong message to children in need: There are people who want them to know that they are loved and want to give them a chance to succeed in life.

Gary also puts his life on the line every day as a sheriff of Buena Vista County. Last January, Launderville was hit by an SUV and thrown 20 feet into the air when he was rescuing a mother and child stranded in a raging snowstorm.

Griess was chosen as the hero from the state of Nebraska for her efforts to save the lives of two children. Greiss was driving home when she noticed thick, black smoke coming from a mobile home park. She pulled off the highway and drove to the park where she found to children trapped by a fire. Without hesitation, Greiss went to a window of the mobile home and pulled the boys, age three and one, to safety.

Launderville and Griess and members of their families will be the guests of the Hawkeyes and the Cornhuskers at the 2011 Heroes Game. In addition to the aforementioned halftime presentation, each will also participate in a variety of special pre-game activities and will have their names inscribed on the Heroes Game trophy.

Fans of the football teams from the UI and UNL are invited to celebrate Thanksgiving and the spirit of heroism in their community by texting either “IOWA” or “NEBRASKA” to 90999. Each text will result in a $10 contribution to the American Red Cross. Message and data rates may apply. To learn more, visit www. hy-vee.com. The text campaign will run through Nov. 25, 2011.

The American Red Cross is the beneficiary of efforts of Hy-Vee, the University of Iowa, and the University of Nebraska to use the annual Heroes Game as a platform to raise funds for a non-profit organization in each state. A new non-profit will be selected after two-game set of Heroes Games.

About the American Red Cross The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.