American Red Cross to honor Aurora police officers at 21st annual Heroes Breakfast May 11

The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago is honoring Aurora Police Officers Alexander Lopez and Andrew Soderlund as this year's Law Enforcement Heroes at the organization's 21st annual Heroes Breakfast. The event will be held from 7:30 to 10 a.m. Thursday, May 11, at the Hilton Chicago.

The day before Thanksgiving 2022, Officer Alexander Lopez of Aurora and Field Training Officer Andrew Soderlund of Yorkville were working in different patrol cars when a call came in that woman and a 9-year-old child had fallen through the ice on a nearby retention pond.

The child had been playing with a football that landed on the ice and when he tried to retrieve it, he fell through. The woman saw the incident and tried to save him. The officers raced to the scene with Officer Lopez arriving first. He waded into the retention pond and began to chip away at the ice to rescue the individuals. Eventually the water became too deep for him to touch the bottom, so he swam out in the frigid waters, and proceeded to take hold of both the boy and the woman and tried to swim with both clinging to his back.

This proved extremely difficult so Officer Soderlund ran into the water with a rope tied to himself so that their colleagues on shore could help pull them in and get the woman and the boy out of the water.

After they were out of the water, Officers Lopez, Soderlund and those rescued were treated for hypothermia, but all made a full recovery.

"The American Red Cross is proud to honor extraordinary people in our community, especially these two police officers who answered the call of duty to save the lives of the young boy and woman," said Celena Roldán Sarillo, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross of Illinois. "We are excited to recognize these officers at this year's Heroes Breakfast."

An independent committee of leaders in the business and civic community selected honorees in 12 community service categories. For the complete list of 2023 Heroes, visit

Thank you to the generous sponsors of the 2023 Illinois Red Cross Heroes event, including Presenting Sponsor: Gallagher; Champion Sponsors: William Blair, ITW, Kirkland & Ellis, KPMG LLP, and Wintrust; Inspiring Action Sponsor: Make It Better Foundation; Hero Award Sponsors: Aon, BMO, Fresenius Kabi, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Nicor Gas, United Airlines, Walgreens; Interactive Technology Sponsor: JLL; Media Sponsors: Better and CBS 2 Chicago and numerous other organizations who have made this program possible.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit or follow @RedCrossILon Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

2023 American Red Cross Heroes

Blood Services Hero: Yvonne Blake of Chicago

Disaster Relief Hero: Father Hernan Cuevas Contreras of Highland Park

Education Hero: Shawn Harrington of Oak Park

Healthcare Hero: Nicole Jackson of Richton Park

Firefighter Heroes: Captain Paul Burns, Firefighter Paramedic Michael Modjeski, Firefighter EMT Jeffrey Rich, of Chicago

Global Citizenship Hero: Pastor John Zayas of Chicago

Community Impact Hero: Keith Wallace of Frankfort

Lifesaving Rescue Hero: Nicole Collins of Sugar Grove

Military Hero: Melvin Bridgmon of Chicago

Social Justice Hero: Berto Aguayo of Chicago

Youth Heroes: Nayomi Melton and Caleb Johnson of Chicago

Law Enforcement Heroes: Officers Alexander Lopez of Aurora and Andrew Soderlund of Yorkville

To read the stories of the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago's 2023 Heroes, go to <a href=""></a>.

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