‘Real Heroes’ are right next door

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To a kid, heroes are often considered the characters who are camouflaged by mysterious masks, wear elaborate armor, and fly, catapult or otherwise transport themselves from one location to another — saving lives and fighting crime against evil villains.

But in the “real world” the true heroes are all around us, and they don’t have — or need — catchy monikers like Iron Man, Spider-Man or Green Hornet. They are our neighbors, schoolmates and coworkers.

The American Red Cross honors these kinds of “everyday heroes” each year, and this past Friday a local teen was among those placed in the spotlight.

Tiffani Pekkala, 16, was honored for organizing blood drives and rallying fellow students. The Hayes Freedom High School student knows all too well how much blood donations are needed.

At the age of 10, she was diagnosed with primary immune deficiency disease. The rare condition requires that Pekkala receive injections of immunoglobulin, a product derived from whole blood American Red Cross donors.

In April 2009 she wanted to reach out and help, so with the assistance of her grandmother Bette-Jo Poser and her classmates she started an annual drive.

Pekkala was among a handful of local residents and one dog who are this year’s Real Heroes, according to the Red Cross. These are the people who go above and beyond, to selflessly give to help others. It is assistance that is often delivered in times of tragedy or high emotion when making the right decision can mean the most.

These are the kinds of “real heroes” that parents can single out as true role models for their kids.