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 Saving Grace Carlos Yanez Jr. makes an inspiring appearance at the FOP
to honor the officers who helped save his life
Palpitation permeated the FOP Hall when members packed the place for the Dec. 15 general meeting. Anticipation perco- lated because there was so much to talk about with the vaccine mandate, cancelled RDOs and the Department’s dwindling ranks presumably on the agenda.
But one of those moments that has made Lodge 7 so beloved soon materialized. A special visitor burst through the side door to a reception that might have greeted MJ, Eddie Vedder or a certain former U.S. president.
As Financial Secretary Jim Jakstavich and President John Catanzara orchestrated the officer awards segment that begins every meeting, the president had some help honoring some unsung heroes from the Aug. 7 tragedy. Carlos Yanez Jr. walked through that door – yes, walked – and stood by Catanzara’s side as he detailed the account of how nine officers responded to rush Junior and Ella French to hospital.
The Life Saving award presented to Officers Nicolas Morales Jr., Ricardo Torres, Cristian Saucedo, Thomas Raap, Jose Garcia, Elyse Rodriguez, Erik Hernandez, Antonio Rodriguez and Chris- topher Paredes ignited a series of emotions. Catanzara choked up reading the account, and when Elyse Rodriguez spoke, she needed the president’s hand on her shoulder for a steadying force.
When another officer on the scene that night – Joshua Blas – was called from the back of the room to join everybody on stage, however, it turned into equal parts celebration and reunion. A bit of a pearl jam if you will.
Lodge 7 President John Catanzara and Carlos Yanez Jr. read the account of the lifesaving actions by Chicago Police Officers on the night of Aug. 7.
Yanez stood with the group and flashed his exuberant double thumbs up that has become such a source of inspiration for the entire Department the past four months. After the presentation, he gathered with the life savers for a series of photos, many of which involved each of them, including Josh, hugging Junior.
His wife, Brenda, also attended and sat with Carlos for the fi- nal photos that culminated with them embracing and sharing a kiss for the occasion.
“Most action I’ve had in months,” Junior quipped.
He didn’t really want to be the center of attention here. Yanez just wanted to be the source of recognition for officers who re- sponded in a heroic way that is as innate to them as it is to every Chicago Police Officer.

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