Katie Gudenkauf

Katie Gudenkauf, pictured above saved the life of Jake Tebbe of Springbrook in March of this year.

A Dubuque nurse was honored in front of thousands of football fans last Friday for her quick response in saving a man’s life earlier this year on Clarke University’s campus. In March, Katie Gudenkauf was attending an indoor soccer tournament at Clarke’s Kehl Center when one of the players blacked out after his heart stopped beating. Gudenkauf and several of her friends and fellow nurses were nearby and within minutes, she began first aid, eventually saving his life.

Gudenkauf was recognized as Iowa’s 2019 “citizen hero” during halftime of the Hy-Vee Heroes Game on Friday, Nov. 29, when the Iowa Hawkeyes took on the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska. Gudenkauf was joined on the field by the family of James Wilke of Columbus, who wa also recognized as Nebraska’s 2019 “citizen hero”.

“All Hy-Vee Heroes Game honorees exemplify what it means to be a hero,” said Leslie Schaffer, Regional Executive for the American Red Cross Iowa Region. “Their life-saving actions define why the American Red Cross, Hy-Vee, the University of Iowa and the University of Nebraska partner together each year to showcase extraordinary citizens in both states.”

The families of Gudenkauf and Wilke were guests of the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Friday’s game and participated in a variety of special pre-game activities. During halftime of the Hy-Vee Heroes Game, university and Hy-Vee representatives made a special on-field presentation to the citizen heroes. Their names were also inscribed on the Hy-Vee Heroes Game trophy.

 Earlier this year, individuals could nominate residents of Iowa and Nebraska who performed extraordinary acts of heroism and service in their communities for the “citizen hero” award. American Red Cross Board members then selected the winners.


Katie Gudenkauf – On a cold day in March, a tragic turn of events caused Katie Gudenkauf and  a Springbrooke man, Jake Tebbe’s paths to cross on Clarke University’s campus in Dubuque, Iowa.

At the time, Jake and Katie did not know one another. Both attended an indoor soccer tournament taking place in Clarke’s Kehl Center. While Jake was playing in the soccer game, his heart stopped beating and he blacked out. Katie and her friends, also nurses, happened to be nearby. Katie stepped in and began first aid, eventually saving his life. Katie is a 2018 graduate of Clarke’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program and currently works as a family practice nurse practitioner at Grand Regional Health Center.

James Wilke – In March 2019, Nebraska faced historic flooding that created dangerous conditions. Structures were damaged, roads were swept away and lives were lost. As floodwaters rose, James Wilke, a farmer from Columbus, Nebraska, was asked by local authorities to help a stranded motorist. James did not hesitate to climb into his tractor like he had done many times before and proceed to assist this stranger. As James crossed a flooded bridge in his tractor, the bridge gave out. James and his tractor were swept away by the floodwaters. James gave his life while attempting to save the life of a stranger.

Be a Local Hero

Every eight minutes, the Red Cross provides hope and comfort to people affected by community disasters. Financial contributions to the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund allow volunteers to help disaster victims, anywhere, anytime. Donations are used to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters – big and small.

The American Red Cross also invites the public to be heroes in their communities and sign up to volunteer and be a part of their life-saving work. The American Red Cross is looking for diverse volunteers of all ages and skill levels. People can go to www.redcross.org to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application.