CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Even at an early age, Officer Brett Hellmann of the Cape Girardeau Police Department knew he wanted to help people - whether he knew them or not.
As a teenager, Hellman worked all summer to raise money to build homes in Haiti. But even earlier in life he knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up.
"I have always known I wanted to be in law enforcement," Hellmann said. "I couldn't really think of another profession I'd want to do... Mom and dad always said do what makes you happy and you'll never work a day in your life."
But Hellmann doesn't just serve and protect the lives of Cape Girardeau's residents. He's also saved lives off the clock.
"All I had to do was swab my cheek, and I was put on the registry," said Hellmann. "Next thing I know I'm getting calls and emails to donate."
In 2015, Hellmann learned he was a perfect match. He didn't think twice about donating his bone marrow to someone he doesn't know - anonymously.
"I look at it as if that was my family member or your family member I'd want them to still be around and have the chance to still be around," said Hellman. "I hope they're still doing well. Just as they don't know much about me, I don't know much about them."
While the patient Brett's bone marrow went to never knew his name, the grateful recipient did send a letter of thanks. It reads: "Dear Anonymous Donor, I want to express my gratitude for giving me the chance to beat this disease. Of course, nothing is guaranteed, but I feel very positive that things will turn out well."
Two years later in 2017, Hellmann was once again found to be a perfect match for another patient in need. Once again, he answered the call to save a life.
"I don't look at it as being a hero," said Hellmann. "It's not a hard procedure, it didn't hurt me at all, I wanted to give that to them, so they can go on and live their life."
Hellmann's girlfriend Lauren Glastetter disagrees - and says whether he thinks so - she believes he is a hero.
"I kept hearing him say that 'everybody would do this, everybody would donate'," said Glastetter. "No. Not everyone would donate, not everyone gets in a police officer's car and puts on a bullet proof vest and goes to work. Not everyone donates money they earned all summer to children in Haiti. No one does that, and not everybody does that. I want him to realize that he really is an amazing person."
To Hellman, his work as a police officer, donating bone marrow, and even raising money to build homes in Haiti is not about heroics. He says it's about simply being there to help someone when they need it most.
"Someone who is in a state of crisis and has nowhere else to turn and you're there to help them," said Hellman. "That person may not in the long run respect what I do, but in the moment, I was there."
Officer Hellman is also very active in supporting the Special Olympics alongside his fellow Cape Girardeau Police officers. He participates in the annual Torch Run, Polar Plunge, and Tip a Cop events at local restaurants.
If you know someone who should be recognized as an Everyday Hero, click here to make your nomination.
We'll profile an Everyday Hero each month on Heartland News and all of our heroes will be honored at the annual Red Cross recognition luncheon.