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BLOOMINGTON — Zachary Mikel, then 14, was leaving school one evening last spring when he saw a man speeding on his bicycle flip over, fall and slide on the concrete.

Kent Morefield, a farmer, took a different route home one evening last summer when he saw a neighbor's tractor in an unusual spot.

The actions of Mikel and Morefield during the next few minutes may have saved the lives of two men.

"I think we're all put on this Earth to do the best we can for one another and not think of ourselves first," Morefield said Tuesday. "I've always believed that."

Morefield, a rural Arrowsmith farmer, and Mikel, now a 15-year-old freshman at Normal Community High School, were among people honored Tuesday during the 11th annual American Red Cross Central Illinois Saluting Our Heroes Breakfast, attended by more than 500 people at the DoubleTree by Hilton.

Mikel, who received the Youth Award, was a 14-year-old Chiddix Junior High School student when he was leaving school with friend Kinzi Walker following drama club practice at 6 p.m. one day last spring.

A bicyclist "zoomed down the parking lot," hit a pothole, flipped over his bike, fell off and slid on the concrete, Mikel recalled.

Mikel, who had learned CPR as the only male in a babysitters' class, ran over and found that the bicyclist's helmet was cracked, his neck was covered in blood and he was unconscious.

He yelled for Walker to call 911. He checked for the man's pulse and couldn't get one.

"I was thinking back to the CPR that I learned," Mikel recalled. "I wasn't nervous about helping him. I was nervous about him. I did not want him to die."

As Mikel was about to start CPR, the man woke up. Mikel asked him questions but the man didn't know his name or where he was.

"He was dazed and confused. I tried to calm him down."

Paramedics arrived and Mikel helped them to unload a gurney for the bicyclist.

"If you see a situation, don't assume the person will be OK," Mikel said. "It doesn't hurt to check things out. If you can't do CPR, call 911.

"I feel like if anyone had been in my place, they would have done what I did," Mikel said. "But I was the one in that place. I'm representative of what others would have done."

Morefield, who received the Good Samaritan Award, was driving home when he spotted a neighbor's tractor at the end of his driveway. Morefield stopped and found Vernon Jacobs, 100, hanging upside down from the back of the tractor. He had slipped as he was using the tractor to pull out his lawnmower that had gotten stuck.

Jacobs had been stuck there for three hours. Morefield carefully pulled him out. A trip to the ER revealed no serious injuries.

Also honored were:

  • Drew Reddington of Bloomington, Health and Safety Award, for saving the life of his wife, Laura, 33, when her heart stopped one morning. He called 911 and administered CPR until paramedics arrived.
  • Downs Community Fire Protection District, Public Service Award, for rescuing a dog that fell through ice on a lake near Downs.
  • Friends Forever Steering Committee, Ambassador Award, for bringing together Israeli Arab and Jewish teenagers to help to bridge the gaps between them.
  • Barbara Brown of Bloomington, Volunteer Award, for beginning Healing Rides — free bike rides for older adults and people with disabilities.
  • Curtis Hawk, Armed Forces Award. Hawk, who served 24 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves and is director of the McLean County Emergency Management Agency, volunteered his time to restore the World War II Monument outside the McLean County Museum of History.
  • Tina Sipula, WJBC Don Munson Spirit of McLean County Award. Sipula is founder and director of Clare House, which provides a food pantry and soup kitchen for people in need.

Follow Paul Swiech on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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Health Reporter

Health reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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