Awards of Excellence

Awards of Excellence 2020 Winners

The First Responders Foundation is proud to announce the Awards of Excellence 2020 Winners.

Congratulations to the following students who have been selected as recipients of the First Responders Foundation Awards of Excellence 2020.


Landon Barrett – Underwood High School
Michaela Dooley – Yutan High School
John Farmer III – Omaha North High School
Leah Fitzke – Fremont High School
Elise Fitzpatrick – Papillion LaVista South High School
Jackson Glup – Plattsmouth High School
Tea Jackson – Bellevue West High School
Kiley Johnson – Millard West High School
Katelyn Komenda – Raymond Central High School
Rashawn McNeal-Lee – Omaha South High School
Caroline Moore – Marian High School
Matthew Neville – Ralston High School
Jack Nieto – Papillion LaVista High School
Noelle Philippi – Ralston High School
Mia Shepoka – Mercy Catholic High School
Gabe Stolinski – Gretna High School


Claire Benson – Westside High School
Julia Benson – Westside High School
Isabella Milone – Glenwood High School
Jaclyn Negrete – Papillion LaVista High School
Owen O’Brien – Lewis Central High School
Meghan O’Neil – Skutt Catholic High School
Lucy Parizek – Omaha Burke High School
Antonio Rinn – Millard North High School
Connor Rinn – Millard North High School
Emily Saalfeld – Marian High School
Halley Shade – Conestoga High School
Emma Spizzirri – Skutt Catholic High School
Scott Swanson – Omaha Burke High School
Tyler Swanson – Omaha Burke High School
Amanda Vlcek – Millard South High School
Brady Weddum – Glenwood High School

We thank all of the outstanding students who applied for the award this year. The committee was impressed with the large number of exceptional applicants.

The recipients represent families from the Omaha Police Department, Omaha Fire Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Papillion Fire Department, Council Bluffs Police Department, and Crescent, IA Volunteer Fire Department.

The Awards of Excellence and the awards ceremony are made possible thanks to the following donors who fully-funded one or more of the awards.


Awards of Excellence and the awards ceremony are made possible thanks to the following donors who fully-funded one or more of the awards:

  • Farmers Insurance
  • Nelson Murphy Ins. & Investments, LLC
  • Northwest Rotary
  • Chuck and Karen Sederstrom
  • Bob and Betsy Nelson
  • Keith and Stephanie Basham
  • Tim and Jonna Holland
  • Carol Stolp
  • Al and Terri Batschelet
  • Susan Wier
  • College World Series of Omaha, Inc.


The award check of $500 will be presented to the recipients at an awards ceremony later this spring at Champions Run Country Club.

Brought to you in part by Farmers Insurance, Nelson Murphy Insurance, and Investments & Omaha Northwest Rotary.

Every spring the First Responders Foundation presents Awards of Excellence to deserving high school seniors who are children of first responders.  These awards are given to students who demonstrate good character, balanced achievement, and outstanding commitment to the community. Part of the mission of the First Responders Foundation is to serve and honor all first responders and their families.  The Foundation believes it takes a special person to become a first responder and their whole family shares in their service and sacrifice.

Most moms and dads don’t wear bullet-proof vests, wear fire-resistant clothing and breathing apparatus, or take life and death calls when at work.  Children of first responders live a different life not knowing if their loved one will return home at the end of their shift or what emotional stress they may endure.  They also learn to live with parents that often miss special events and holidays, because the life of a public servant is 24/7 and it doesn’t take a break.

To show honor and respect to these students and their families the Foundation created the Awards of Excellence.  The recipients of this prestigious award receive $500 and recognition at the annual Awards of Excellence reception.  Students are required to submit an application with supporting documents detailing high school activities, achievements, and awards, and community involvement and accomplishments.  They are also asked to write a  personal essay so the selection committee can get to know the applicant, including future career or vocation goals. Each year the Foundation is overwhelmed by the quality of the applicants.  These fine young men and women are making a difference in their schools and community.  Many plan to pursue public service in the future.

Applying for Awards of Excellence

To apply for the award students must be graduating high school seniors with a “C” or higher grade point average.  They must have a parent who is a first responder, paid or non-paid, that works in Douglas, Sarpy or Pottawattamie Counties in NE and IA.  If selected they must agree to allow the First Responders Foundation to use their name and photo.  The recipients will be selected by the First Responders Foundation selection committee.There is a limited number of Awards of Excellence awards. Applications must be mailed to the First Responders Foundation.

(Note: The First Responders Foundation typically holds a ceremony for the Awards of Excellence recipients where they receive their award and $500 check. This year, due to COVID-19, and the health and safety of the students and their families of utmost importance, the ceremony has been cancelled. In place of the celebration each student will receive a special package in the mail.)


Bob Nelson, introduced me to the First Responders Foundation about 18 months ago. As a result, I sponsored a student last year who was a child of a First Responder with an Award of Excellence. I feel so strongly about this organization and the work they are doing for ALL First Responders that it is my intent to continue supporting them for years to come.  My donation this year will be in honor of the EMT team from Omaha Fire Station #42, the team who responded so quickly and efficiently when my sister Nancy had a stroke 2 weeks ago.  It was because of their quick, efficient and amazing actions (and the doctors, of course) that Nancy had the best outcome we could have hoped for.  Carol

To read about Kylie, a recipient of the award in 2019, click here.

For questions please email

2019 winners!**

**Awards of Excellence 2019 Picture Gallery**

**2018 winners!** **2017 winners!**

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