Local heroes come in all forms. Some save lives; others go above and beyond to better the lives of others.
Some have fur and will do anything to keep co-workers safe.
Rek, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois shepherd and a member of the Delaware County Sheriff's Office K-9 unit, will receive the first-ever Pet Hero Award at this week's annual Delaware County Red Cross Heroes Breakfast.
Each year, the Red Cross recognizes county heroes who make a difference in the lives of others. Rek will receive his award for a call in February that pitted him against a combative suspect.
To ensure the safety of other officers, Rek restrained the suspect with a bite, even after the aggressive man punched the canine.
Rek suffered a fierce blow to the head that caused lacerations on his face, but he didn't give up in his mission to protect his trainer and fellow officers, who were able to use a Taser on and arrest the suspect.
"In this situation, a 360-pound gentleman who was determined to fight us probably would have injured some of us trying to effect an arrest, so having the dog being there basically saved us from getting injuries," said Rek's partner and trainer, Sgt. Larry Dore.
"It's not often that publicly these dogs get recognized for what they do, but every day, these dogs across the country serve us by sniffing bombs in our schools and finding drugs," he added.
Rek will receive his award at the breakfast today, Nov. 7, but it's safe to say Dore will be the one who's most honored. To reward Rek in a way a dog would appreciate, Dore said he'd considered preparing him a special meal -- but that might not be necessary.
"He's gotten onto the counter and eaten some pork chops and steaks, so he's been rewarding himself," Dore joked.
Others who will receive awards during the breakfast at Ohio Wesleyan University include dedicated community volunteer Donna Evans, former Liberty Township firefighter John Wright, Delaware County sheriff's deputy Tim Schambs, World War II veterans Raymond Nally and Charles Allen, Family Promise member Franklin Moore, retired Buckeye Valley Middle School teacher Debra Basinger, and Marisa Sheppard, president of the Buckeye Valley High School Red Cross Club.
The Red Cross accepts hero nominations throughout the year. Winners are selected by a committee made up of mayors from Sunbury, Ashley, Galena and Ostrander.
"One of the myths for this is that a person actually has to rescue someone from a burning building to be considered a hero, but that's not necessarily the case," said Delaware County Red Cross Manager Sheila Thomas. "Random acts of kindness are included in our criteria."
Thomas said Red Cross heroes include anyone who saves lives, is selfless, inspires others or goes above and beyond helping others in difficult times.
All of this year's heroes' inspiring stories will be shared through videos and written profiles during the breakfast, including those of WWII veterans Nally and Allen, both of whom were the sole survivors of planes shot down over Italy.
Ten students in grades K-9 also will be recognized at the breakfast for their essays about the heroes in their lives.
Proceeds from the 11th annual event will support disaster relief and other community services provid- ed by the Delaware County Red Cross.