Congratulations to the Tri-County Fire Corps Graduates

Congratulations to the graduates of the Tri-County Fire Corps Exploring Program

The First Responders Foundation congratulates the students who graduated from the Tri-County Fire Corps Exploring Program on Sunday, November 17th.

The Tri-County Fire Corps Exploring Program is a cooperative effort of the greater Omaha area fire departments, Metro Community College and the First Responders Foundation, in a public-private partnership. This program provides a unique opportunity for 16-19 year old youth to learn the skills necessary for a career in firefighting.


Jay Miralles, FRF Volunteer of the Year!

Congratulations to Jay Miralles the First Responders Foundation Volunteer of the Year!

The First Responders Foundation thanks Jay Miralles for all he does to help make the annual Police vs. Fire boxing event Gun & Hoses a success.  Jay says he volunteers to help because he wants to give back to first responders in the metro area for all they do for us and he wants the night to make them feel appreciated.  We appreciate you Jay and all your hard work!

For a Q & A with Jay visit:

For more information about Guns & Hoses, visit

Jay is pictured here with Gina Mowat, First Responders Foundation Director of Events.

JAVELAN receives a Helping Heroes Grant from the Petco Foundation

Monday was a great day for First Responders Foundation’s JAVELAN program . The Petco Foundation awarded JAVELAN a $2500 Helping Heroes grant, on October 21, 2019 for service dog training.

Executive Director of the JAVELAN program, Tim McAlpine accompanied by Golden Retriever, General Patton, and his wife Mary, along with Patrice Monnier, of the First Responders Foundation accepted the check from Petco.  The team of handler, Larry Mattson, and his service dog, Sadie, a 90lb King Silver German Shepherd, who will benefit from the grant were at Petco to show their appreciation, as was Russ Dillion from Dillon Dog Training. The check was presented by Matthew Weida, Store Leader, and Shirley Woolsoncroft, Service Experience Leader, from the 13660 W Maple Rd. Petco, and Shawna Weida, Store Leader, from the 7110 Dodge St. Petco.  When Petco guests donate at the register, this act of generosity allows the Petco Foundation to do big things.  To date, since 2012 the Petco Foundation has invested more than $14 million to support the life-changing work of the Helping Heroes service dog program and more than $260 million over all in support of organizations dedicated to creating a better world for pets and the people who love them.

Larry, who is a Marine veteran, has been working with Sadie for five months.  Larry’s exact words are “Sadie has changed my life”.  Larry suffers from PTSD with anxiety and depression and has severe knee and back issues.  He also has high blood pressure and Sadie is trained to alert him when his blood pressure goes above 130/60.  A special twist to the relationship with Larry and JAVELAN is that Larry met with JAVELAN on official business as the NE State President of the Fraternal Order of Eagles.  Larry met to discuss the Eagles raising funds for JAVELAN to help veterans.  During the meeting Tim asked Larry if he had ever thought about a service dog for himself.  Larry said yes, but due to the cost, and so many other veterans having a greater need, it was out of the question.  Tim strongly encouraged Larry to apply to JAVELAN, and now Larry and Sadie are a team.  Russ Dillon who contracts with JAVELAN to train the handlers and the dogs, shared some of the exciting details as to how Larry and Sadie became a team.  Sadie had been part of another service dog program but the home where she was living had another dog who was extremely aggressive towards Sadie.  The owners contacted Russ and said they needed to find a new home for Sadie immediately.  Russ called Larry, who had been accepted into the JAVELAN program by this time, and asked if he could come to Omaha from Kearney “now”, to meet Sadie. Larry and Sadie met and the connection was fantastic.  Unique to JAVELAN is that Russ teaches the handler to train the dog while the dog and handler live together and get to know each other, the dogs are not given to the recipients trained.  This reduces the cost by tens of thousands of dollars and helps strengthen the bond between human and canine.  Another unique feature is that the JAVELAN program continues to work with the team in the future as needs arise. Larry would benefit greatly from balance help.  Once Sadie is mature enough, at approximately 2 years old, she will be fitted with a custom-made stability vest.  The vest and handle will allow Larry to use Sadie’s help for balance while walking, standing up, sitting down, and more. Russ will work with Larry at that time to teach Sadie what she needs to help Larry with balance.  The Helping Heroes grant will help with this training.  In the future if Larry would develop another need, such as diabetes, Russ would be able to help train Sadie to alert for that as well.  JAVELAN is a program for the life of the dog, and when needed will help with a new dog – funding, training, and support.

Helping with the training gives the handler great comfort and also purpose. Many who suffer from PTSD need a purpose.  Helping to train the dog, which takes a few hours each day, gives the handler a job to do, a reason to get up each morning, and “someone” who needs them and loves them.  As in the case of Larry the dogs of JAVELAN, are often rescue dogs, from various situations.  The dogs and the handler are both rescued!

For more information on JAVELAN visit  To apply for a service dog and funding contact

Again, a heartfelt and sincere thank you to the Petco Foundation for the Heartland Heroes grant to JAVELAN and the First Responders Foundation.

For more information on the Petco Foundation click here

Pictured from left to right Patrice Monnier, Shawna Weida, Russ Dillion, Larry Mattson, Shirley Woolsoncroft, Mary McAlpine, General Patton, Tim McAlpine.  In front Matthew Weida shaking hands with Sadie.

2019 Inductees to the Ancient Society of Saints Florian and Michael

Mike FaheyMike Fahey

The First Responders Foundation is proud to honor Mike Fahey by inducting him into the Ancient Order of Saint Florian and Saint Michael Society.

Saint Michael, the protector is the patron saint of police and Saint Florian is the patron saint of firefighters. The First Responders Foundation recognizes Mayor Stothert for supporting first responders and the First Responders Foundation.

Michael G. Fahey served as mayor of Omaha from 2001 to 2009. He is from Kansas City, Missouri but found his way to Creighton University where he earned a bachelor of arts in 1973. He founded American Land and Title Co., now part of Wells Fargo, Norwest Corporation. He has served on the boards of numerous business organizations and community improvement organizations. He is currently on the Board of Directors of First Responders Foundation and the Board of Trustees of Creighton Preparatory High School.

Robert NelsonRobert Nelson

The First Responders Foundation is proud to honor Robert Nelson by inducting him into the Ancient Order of Saint Florian and Saint Michael Society.

Saint Michael, the protector is the patron saint of police and Saint Florian is the patron saint of firefighters. The First Responders Foundation recognizes Robert Nelson for supporting first responders and the First Responders Foundation.

Bob Nelson is founder and principal of Nelson/Murphy Insurance and Investments in Omaha. A native of Omaha, Bob served four years active duty and another 19 in the Navy Reserves, retiring as a captain. He served on the First Responders Foundation board for six years, during which time he organized the Awards of Excellence which provides $500 to high school seniors who are children of first responders. He is currently working on building the First Responders Foundation Boosters.

Charles SederstromCharles Sederstrom

The First Responders Foundation is proud to honor Charles Sederstrom by inducting him into the Ancient Order of Saint Florian and Saint Michael Society.

Saint Michael, the protector is the patron saint of police and Saint Florian is the patron saint of firefighters.  The First Responders Foundation recognizes Charles Sederstrom for supporting first responders and the First Responders Foundation.

Charles was born in Deadwood, South Dakota; attended Black Hills State University in Spearfish, and received his Juris Doctorate from the University of South Dakota. He began practicing law in Omaha in 1968 with Donald Erickson and subsequently began the law firm of Erickson | Sederstrom. He has dedicated his career to Corporate Law with a particular reference on Health Law and to serving our community for over fifty years. He is a member and leader in the Autism Center of Nebraska, Scottish Rite, Burgess Health, West Health Institute and Omaha Northwest Rotary Club. Chuck served as Chairman of the First Responders’ from 2013 to 2106 and remains on the Board of Directors.

Mayor Jean StothertMayor Jean Stothert

The First Responders Foundation is proud to honor Mayor Jean Stothert by inducting her into the Ancient Order of Saint Florian and Saint Michael Society.

Saint Michael, the protector is the patron saint of police and Saint Florian is the patron saint of firefighters.  The First Responders Foundation recognizes Mayor Stothert for supporting first responders and the First Responders Foundation.

Jean Stothert is the 51st mayor of Omaha and the first women to be so elected. She grew up near St. Louis and received a degree in nursing from Seattle Pacific University. She worked as a critical care nurse and then as head nurse of the department of cardiovascular surgery at St. Louis University. After moving to Omaha in 1993, she served on the Millard Board of Education and the Omaha City Council. She is now in her second term as Mayor. Mayor Stothert’s first priority is public safety. The number of police officers has reached the record high of 902, the fifth police precinct opens this month and the fire department will break ground next year on a new fire station. She has authorized the replacement and addition of equipment for both the police and fire departments to protect our first responders and the citizens of Omaha.

Secretary Chuck HagelSecretary Chuck Hagel

The First Responders Foundation is proud to honor Secretary Chuck Hagel by inducting him into the Ancient Order of Saint Florian and Saint Michael Society.

Secretary Chuck Hagel was be the keynote speaker at the First Responders Foundation Third Annual 9/11 Luncheon of Honor on September 11, 2019.

Chuck Hagel was the 24th Secretary of Defense, serving from February 2013 to February 2015. He is the only Vietnam veteran and the first enlisted combat veteran to serve as Secretary of Defense.

Some of Sec. Hagel’s recent commitments include service on the Board of Trustees of RAND; Advisory Board of Corsair Capital; Senior Advisor to GALLUP and to the McCarthy Group; Centennial Scholar, Georgetown Walsh School of Foreign Service; Distinguished Scholar, University of Nebraska at Omaha; Distinguished Statesman at the Atlantic Council; Board of Directors of Public Broadcasting Service (PBS); Director and Founding Member of the American Security Project; and Advisory Board Chairman of the HillVets Veterans Organization.

Hagel served two terms in the United States Senate (1997-2009) representing the state of Nebraska. Hagel was a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; and Intelligence Committees. He Chaired the Foreign Relations International Economic Policy, Export and Trade Promotion Subcommittee; and the Banking Committee’s International Trade and Finance, and Securities Subcommittees. Hagel also served as the Chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the Senate Climate Change Observer Group.

Previously, Secretary Hagel was a Distinguished Professor at Georgetown University, Co- Chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, Chairman of the Atlantic Council. He served as a member of the Secretary of Defense’s Policy Board, Secretary of Energy’s Blue Ribbon Commission on the Future of Nuclear Power, Systemic Risk Council Board of Directors; and as a member of the Board of Directors of Chevron.

Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Hagel was president of McCarthy & Company, an investment banking firm in Omaha, Nebraska. In the mid-1980’s, Hagel co-founded VANGUARD Cellular Systems, Inc., a publicly traded corporation. He was President and CEO of the World USO, Private Sector Council (PSC), and Chief Operating Officer of the 1990 Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations (G-7 Summit). Hagel also served as Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration under President Ronald Reagan and Deputy Commissioner General of the 1982 World’s Fair.

He is the author of the book, America: Our Next Chapter and was the subject of a 2018 book by General Daniel Bolger entitled, Our Year of War, and a 2006 book by Charlyne Berens entitled, Chuck Hagel: Moving Forward. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Hagel and his wife, Lilibet, have a daughter (Allyn) and son (Ziller).

(As of April 2019)

10th Annual Appreciation Lunches

On June 6th, the First Responders Foundation celebrated the 10th year of providing Appreciation Lunches to first responders. Once a year the First Responders Foundation partners with local business’ to provide lunches for first responders in the metro area. This is a small way that the foundation can thank and acknowledge first responders for the dedication and support they show the community 365 days a year.

This year we were proud to partner with Chick-fil-A of Greater Omaha who provided a wrap, bag of chips, and a cookie for law enforcement officers. Over 600 meals were provided. Omaha Steaks provided steak for the firefighters to cook for themselves at the fire stations. Water was provided by Nebraska Furniture Mart who also helped deliver the meals. A donation was made to help with other costs by C&A Industries.

Volunteers helped pack and deliver the meals. There were more volunteers than could be accommodated as people are more than happy to show appreciation to our local first responders and heroes. One volunteer commented how wonderful it was to see the smiles on the first responders faces when the meals are delivered and how thankful they are to be appreciated.

Appreciation Lunches 2019 FireThe food was delivered to Omaha Police and Fire Stations, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, and the Douglas County 911 Center. Each year the First Responders Foundation provides more meals than the year before, and expands the reach and the thanks, farther into the community.

School children decorated the lunch bags from Ezra, Standing Bear, Picotte, Joslyn, and Sunny Slope Elementary Schools. The bags were elaborate and heartfelt and were very meaningful to the first responders.

It is a wonderful day for the first responders and the community. We are fortunate in the metro area to have such dedicated men and women who are willing to serve and protect our citizens.  It is a great way for the First Responders Foundation to continue the mission to serve and honor all our First Responders and their families, build appreciation and respect for their work and enhance public safety.

2018 Inductees to the Ancient Society of Saints Florian and Michael

On September 27, the First Responders Foundation held our Inaugural Dinner of Honor. The Foundation inducted Ray Somberg, Nelson and Linda Gordman, and Mary West into the Honorable and Ancient Society of Saints Florian (patron saint of firefighters) and Michael (patron saint of defenders and protectors). These deserving honorees have demonstrated, over the years, generous support and exceptional service to the Foundation and to first responders and their families.

We would also like to recognize two companies for their dedication to and appreciation of first responders – our event sponsors Ortho Nebraska and Valmont Industries, Inc.


Ray Somberg

Ray Somberg is the co-founder and recently retired executive director of the First Responders Foundation. Ray has given countless hours to First Responders Foundation, including recruiting board members, raising money, managing programs and building special relationships with the police and firefighters.

When first responders needed help with equipment or had a personal tragedy – Ray and his board were there. They started the hashtag support blue campaign, they help pay for equipment for youth sports coached by first responders, they created scholarships for the graduates of police and firefighter families, and so much more.

Over $1.6 million has been donated by the Foundation since it was founded in 2008, to purchase equipment and provide programs for Omaha Fire and Police Departments to enhance public safety.

For his remarkable vision, his perseverance and his dedication to the first responders of greater Omaha we award this first medallion for the National Society of Saints Florian and Michael to Ray Somberg.

“I want to extend my congratulations to the other honorees. These folks have made extremely significant contributions to the success of the First Responders Foundation and it is a privilege for me to be recognized with them on this occasion.

I feel strongly that I have received far too much credit for what the Foundation has accomplished and the Board of Directors and Staff have received far too little credit. I am deeply indebted to past and present board members and staff for the passion and dedication they have exhibited in accomplishing the Foundation’s mission.”

-Ray Somberg

Linda and Nelson Gordman

Hundreds of Omaha’s youth have been touched by the generosity of Linda and Nelson Gordman. They have been the benefactors of the Police Athletics for Community Engagement (PACE) program since January of 2015, a sports program with no cost to the kids started by police who wanted to improve relationships with youth.

In 2013, when Police Headquarters needed updating, including additional equipment for the fitness center, the Gordman’s again played a major role in making that effort happen. They also financed all the workout equipment for the new Southeast Police Precinct in 2016.

For their financial gifts and for their deep caring for youth we are proud to induct Linda and Nelson Gordman into the National Societyof Saints Florian and Michael.

“Linda and I have been partners for a long time, and that’s in spite of the fact that she was into horses almost her whole life, and that I almost never rode a horse. But it was this horse activity that started our appreciation of the police, and of all first responders, as she and I became supporters of the Mounted Patrol.

We got to know many of the Mounted Patrol officers and visited their barn — first at Aksarben and then at the new downtown facility. Our respect for our First Responders continued to grow.

Then six or seven years ago, our very good friends, Jerry Hoberman and Ray Somberg, put together their amazing sold-out event to honor the Police and Firefighters and start Omaha’s First Responders Foundation.

Ray continued to serve as its director for a few years and worked diligently and tirelessly on its fund-raising efforts to get vital and needed equipment for the Police and firefighters.

Linda and I were hooked.

During all of these activities and projects, including the renovation of the Main Police headquarters, the new Precinct facility in SW Omaha, and especially when our son, Kip, became active in the LPOA PACE off-shoot of the Foundation, we got to know many of the Police officers, Firefighters, and several of the behind-the-scene personnel.

We became more aware, and more in awe, of what they do each day.”

-Nelson Gordman

Mary West

More than 30 years ago, entrepreneurs Gary and Mary West founded West Corporation, a technology-driven communications company based in Omaha, Nebraska.

After retiring, the Wests turned their passion and energy to philanthropic initiatives.

(Ms. Vyan Nguyen accepted the award on behalf of Mary West.)

Mrs. West has been a supporter of the First Responders Foundation since 2013 including major contributions to the Omaha Police Department’s K9 and Mounted Patrol units. For her passion toward the four-legged First Responders and her admiration of those who train and care for them, we induct Mary West into the National Society of Saints Florian and Michael.

“On behalf of Mrs. Mary West, thank you for this honor in recognition of her support for the First Responders Foundation. Although Mrs. West could not be here tonight in person to accept this award, she is grateful for the acknowledgement that her support of the First Responders Foundation has contributed to the safety and quality of life for the Omaha community.   Through her philanthropic efforts,  Mrs. West has been able to maintain a purposeful connection to the Omaha community, so thank you for allowing her contributions to have a meaningful impact.”

-Vyan Nguyen, accepting the award on behalf of Mary West

Deryl Hamann

Deryl Hamann has donated over $100,000 since 2015 to help build the First Responders scholarship fund, programs for the emotional and mental health of police and firefighters and to sustain the fundamental programs of the Foundation.

For his respect and appreciation of our First Responders and his financial generosity we induct Deryl Hamann into the National Society of Saints Florian and Michael. Deryl was unable to join us on September 27 to accept the award, so we will personally present the medallion to Deryl in the near future.

FNB Employee Chooses to Support First Responders with Employee-Directed Donation!

We’d like to thank Diann Swigart at First National Bank of Omaha who recently received a $500 employee-directed donation and chose to support the First Responders Foundation! She also organized a team of 6 volunteers to deliver 480 sack lunches to first responders as part of our Annual Appreciation Lunches.

Thank you Diann and her team for supporting first responders and the men and women who put their lives on the line every day.

First Responder Appreciation Lunches!

Every year we look forward to the day we bring lunches to the Omaha Police Department and Omaha Fire Department to show them how much we appreciate their dedicated service!  Last Thursday was the 8th annual First Responders Appreciation Day, and volunteers delivered over 900 lunches (in colorful bags decorated by schoolchildren) to area first responders.

Special thanks to our Board, Arby’s, Rotella’s Italian Bakery Inc, Omaha Steaks, Ideal Pure Water, C&A Industries, and all our volunteers and friends at First National Bank of Omaha for helping out by packing and delivering lunches!

Read the WOWT article.

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