This month Huck's Heroes is sponsored by The Gift of Life Movie.  Find out more about The Gift of Life by clicking here.

A Huck’s Hero salute today to New York police officer Lawrence DePrimo, who gave new meaning to the saying, “The policeman is your friend.” On a freezing night a couple of weeks ago, DePrimo was putting duty in Times Square when he saw an older, barefoot homeless man. Thinking how cold his own feet were even with two pairs of socks, he asked the man’s shoe size. Then he stepped into a nearby shoe store and asked for a pair of size 12 all-weather boots. The store manager was so shocked at seeing someone who didn’t just ignore homeless people, he gave him the employee discount. DePrimo stepped outside, put the boots on the man, and they parted ways.

He thought that was the end of it. He didn’t know that a tourist who worked for an Arizona sheriff had seen a cop kneeling to put shoes on a homeless man and was so moved, she’d snapped a photo. It ended up on the Internet, went viral, and now Officer DePrimo is being hailed as a hero. It’s all a bit overwhelming for him. He just wanted to help someone in need. But he says he does keep the shoe receipt in his pocket, as a reminder that some people have it worse than you do. I have a feeling a lot of people may now be carrying that photo of him to remind them of the same thing.

A Huck’s Hero salute to Joe Leuken of Bemidji, Minnesota. He was born a baker’s son, but today, he owns three supermarkets called Leuken’s Village Foods. Over 45 years in the business, he’s built a reputation for generosity and good citizenship, funding local charities, scholarships and more. Recently, Joe decided to retire and travel with his wife. He’s had offers to sell his supermarkets to big chains at a huge profit. But he turned them down. He’s always credited his success to his 400 loyal employees…who were stunned when Joe announced that he’s giving his three supermarkets to them. He’s setting up a stock plan, and they’ll receive ownership shares based on their salaries and length of service. Joe explained that his parents who came through the Great Depression taught him to live by the motto, “Do the right thing.” So the next time you hear class warfare talk about the evil rich and the uncaring boss, think of Joe Leuken. If you can’t win the lottery, working for a guy like him is the next best thing.
Through Lane’s treatment, remission and relapse, the Thumbs-up For Lane campaign became an Internet phenomenon. Movie and TV stars, pro athletes, politicians and people from every walk of life – over 340,000 of them – left a thumb’s up for the brave boy whose own smiling, thumbs-up photo raised awareness of his disease and inspired people all over the world.
Finally, a salute to a truly selfless Huck’s Hero, Former PR rep Simon Mitchell of Blackpool, England. When his doctors told him he had lymphoma and had just two years to live, he decided to make a “reverse bucket list.” It’s a list of wishes he wants to make come true for other people before he dies. It includes helping 60 military families, making wishes come true for 500 children, and doing things like skydiving and visiting the North Pole, only with sponsorships so they raise money for charity. Even after having half his right lung removed, he’s already raised $90,000 for charity, helped several military families, and made wishes come true for a number of children, including using his PR contacts to help them meet celebrities like Katie Perry. All that work might shorten his life even more, but that’s a risk he’s willing to take. Simon says, “If I die with a smile on my face, with people remembering me and with my wife proud of me, then it will all have been worth it.” And wouldn’t it be great if we all lived the way Simon says?

Congratulations and a big Huck’s Hero salute to all the volunteers at Troopathon.org. It’s a great organization that sends care packages to our toops stationed in the Middle East. It brings a little taste of home to the people who left their homes and families to travel to the most dangerous parts of the world to defend our freedom. The care packages not only make their lives better, they serve as a reminder that those of us back here are grateful and thinking of them. Last week, Troopathon held their annual radio telethon. They’ve now surpassed their initial goal of $250,000 and are closing in on the new goal of $400,000 to buy and send care packages to the troops. If you’ve got a few extras to help out, they’re still taking donations online.

Just go to Troopathon.org to learn more about this great organization!