When it comes to the Boy Scouts, Jim James of Hesperia practices what he preaches: He's always prepared.


On a recent hike with Scouts to the 9,400-foot Mount Baden-Powell, James and his troop found a man sprawled across the trail grasping his chest in agony.


"I did a quick run-down and said, 'You're having a heart attack.' "


The man's hiking partners attempted calling 9-1-1 on their cellphones, but they couldn't connect. So James tried and got through. When the rescue helicopter arrived, he acted as an impromptu air traffic controller and guided the airship to a safe location close to the heart attack victim.


"A month later I got a call from his family that he's doing OK."


They offered to give James something for his help, but he refused.


"I'm not going to take gifts for what's right," James said. "I'm just happy he's OK."


On Tuesday, James was recognized for his contributions to the Boy Scouts and other organizations by Hesperia Chamber of Commerce during its annual awards ceremony at Courtyard Marriott Hesperia.


Chamber chairman of the board Matthew Hawkins cited James' volunteering his time to such organizations as the American Legion, the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life events, the Hesperia Police Explorer's annual Halloween Haunted House and others.


"The Hesperian of the Year award is given to the one who contributed the most to the community," Hawkins said.


Other awardees


Hawkins also handed out awards to the following:


Lillian King award Shannon Shannon of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage


Business Person of the Year Laura Crites of Foremost Health Care Center


Business of the Year Award Chris Vasquez of Desert Community Bank/East West Bank


Gil Zank Award (with Gil Zank awarding) Craig Sundgren of Cubit Engineering


Hesperia Legacy Award The late Robert Bath of Advance Disposal


New residents


James, 49, and his wife of 12 years, Suzanne James, moved from San Diego to Hesperia eight years ago.


"Basically we got involved in the community right away," he said. "You might as well do what you can to make things better."


A plumber by trade, in his 20s James enjoyed the freedom of bachelorhood, hitch-hiking to Alaska and moving from region to region.


"I never settled down until I met her."


But at the age of 37, James not only settled down but he instantly became the stepfather to his wife's five children age five to 14, and with one of the children being a quadriplegic.


"I'm the youngest of eight," he said. "I love a large family."


Recently Suzanne James had to quit working due to an injury, so her husband stepped up to the challenge.


"He's taken on my job since I got injured," she said. "He's an easy walk-in-the-park husband. He's wonderful."


James is always ready to help out both at home and around the Hesperia community.


He helps create the annual Hesperia Police Explorers haunted house. Another time James stepped in when the fire department lost its Santa Claus for their annual "Sparks of Love" holiday gift giveaway event.


"Their Santa down with pneumonia and died."


He helps Boy Scouts from four troops 450, 459, 659 and 725 prepare for their first merit badges.


For several nights last November, James stood guard at night at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall.


"It warmed my heart but wrenched my gut."


He led 25 Boy Scouts and some parents on a 20-mile hike to Central Road in Apple Valley. Twenty-three Scouts completed the event.


James also volunteers for his church, the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints.


"He's going to continue doing service no matter what," Suzanne James said. "He loves helping people and giving of his time."