“Omaha Together” Event on 15th Anniversary of 9/11 Will Remember Lives Lost in Terror Attacks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The First Responders Foundation is a nonprofit that works to enhance public safety in our community by providing resources to police officers and firefighters and to show appreciation for their dedicated service.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of 9/11. In partnership with Stinson Park, the First Responders Foundation is presenting Omaha Together, a day-long event to honor the lives lost on September, 11, 2001.

We invite you to join us on Sunday, September 11 at Stinson Park for Omaha’s official day of remembrance. The day will begin with the 3rd Annual Minute of Silence Ceremony. Immediately following will be a day of free family activities to encourage Omahans to come together in honor of the lives lost, reunite as a community, and show appreciation for our first responders.

9:11-9:12am: Minute of Silence Ceremony
9:00am-1:00pm: Farmer’s Market
9:00am-9:00pm: Kids Activities
5:00pm: World Record-Breaking Swing Dance & Tribute Video
6:00pm: Live Concert
9:11pm: Special Tribute

To learn more about the First Responders Foundation, view the press kit.  For more information about the event, visit the official Omaha Together Facebook page.

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PRESS INQUIRIES

Jim Hanson
First Responders Foundation
402.218.1205
jim@intouchcommunications.com

Bridget Fitzpatrick
Omaha Police Department
402.510.0796
bridget.fitzpatrick@cityofomaha.org


Looking Back: National Police Week Trip to Honor Kerrie Orozco

dc2Practicing hour after hour and day after day. There was to be no room for error and their mission was accomplished. Who are they? They are the men and women of the Omaha Police Honor Guard and Pipe & Drums and they were on full display in Washington DC for National Police Week.

For them, this year was special. This year they were in DC to represent one of their own, fallen Officer Kerrie Orozco, EOW May 20, 2015. The OPD Honor Guard and Pipes and Drums were given special duties this trip. They were chosen for an elite ceremony at the Pentagon. They would carry the United States Honor Flag to the Pentagon Police to fly at the Pentagon in Kerrie’s Honor. The flag would fly on the same flag pole that remembers those killed on Sept 11, 2001. Later in the week, the Honor Guard was also chosen to present a wreath with Kerrie’s name on it at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

dc1Two sacred places, two sacred ceremonies with an Honor Guard and Pipes and Drums group that allowed no room for error. They would be the best of the best representing Officer Kerrie Orozco and the dignity of the entire Omaha Police Department. This task they did not fail, in fact, they excelled.

It’s hard to find the words to describe what it feels like to be in DC with tens of thousands of officers all in their dress uniforms. To look at them and know they were there because, like Omaha, they lost one of their own.

But DC wasn’t about sadness. It was about remembrance and honor and making sure the world knows these officers gave their all. It was about giving all of the fallen officers the respect that they so rightly deserved. It was about forming bonds that may last a lifetime. It was a brotherhood and sisterhood in an exclusive club that no one really wanted to join. It was about sharing in each other’s pain and moving forward.

The week was about honor and respect and our foundation was privileged to be a part of such a dignified week. It was our duty to bring the message of Support Blue to the men and women who protect us and let them know we have their back. We support them for the job that they do. We will continue to spread the Support Blue message wherever we can and encourage others to do the same.


Law Enforcement Golf Tournament to Benefit First Responders Foundation!

Calling all law enforcement officers!

On May 20, 2016, the 55th Security Forces Squadron will be holding the 6th Annual Police Week Golf Tournament at Fox Run in Council Bluffs. This event is open to all Law Enforcement Agencies around Omaha and teams are first come, first serve. Funds from perks purchased to assist you in play will be donated to the First Responders Foundation.

There will also be a 2016 Chevy vehicle up for grabs for those who make the hole-in-one on a designated par three. Additionally, there will be prizes ranging from golf balls, to bags, to full sets of clubs at designated longest drive and closest to the pin holes. Also gift cards from various companies.

There will also be free food grilled up and free drinks, excluding alcohol, available.

Sign up for a good time and for a good cause with your fellow Brothers and Sisters in Blue!

Download Flyer & Register »

 


First Responders Foundation Participating in Omaha Gives!

The First Responders Foundation is excited to be participating in Omaha Gives, a 24-hour online giving event organized by the Omaha Community Foundation to grow philanthropy and inspire the community to come together to contribute as many charitable dollars as possible within the allotted time to support the work of local nonprofit organizations.

You Can Help Support Our Mission

1) Donate

frfogprofPlease consider a donation of $10 or more to help us thank Omaha’s first responders by providing materials and equipment and funding other initiatives that support the police and fire departments. We work directly with each chief to fulfill wish lists and prioritize resources so your donation goes where it is needed most.

Omaha Gives culminates on May 25, 2016, but you can schedule your donation now. Every donation is important and helps increase our chances of taking home extra incentives such as participation prizes and hourly giveaways. Thank you for supporting Omaha’s first responders!

Donate Now

2) Thank a Hero!

THANKAHEROFirst responders embody the very definition of heroism by putting their lives on the line for us each and every day. Police officers and firefighters are the first people on the scene when an emergency strikes. These brave men and women run towards dangerous situations to save and protect the people of our community.

Do you have a police officer or firefighter in your family or circle of friends that you admire for their dedication and want to thank for their service? Has your life been touched or saved by a first responder? Participate in our #ThankAHero campaign by nominating a first responder to be publicly thanked on our website and social media during the month of May! We will be sharing nominations in conjunction with Omaha Gives, telling your stories, and thanking these real heroes for making a difference every day.

Nominate a Hero

3) Be a Social Media Advocate

You can help spread our message and inform others about the work that we are doing to help our local first responders by sharing our Omaha Gives Facebook posts and tweets!

Follow the First Responders Foundation:

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Honor Your Heroes by Donating Blood

A big thank you to the American Red Cross for organizing the “Honor Your Heroes” blood drives in honor of first responders! By giving blood at one of the following drives, you are supporting the First Responders Foundation’s mission and saying “thank you” to our heroes in red and blue.

May 3 – La Vista Community Center – 1pm – 7pm
8116 Parkview Blvd. – La Vista

Make an Appointment

 

May 5 – Bellevue Christian Center – 1pm – 7pm
1400 Harvell Drive – Bellevue

Make an Appointment

 

May 6 – Sarpy County Courthouse – 8am – 2pm
(Probation Office) 1261 Golden Gate Drive – Papillion

Make an Appointment

 

All presenting donors will receive a Red Cross t-shirt!

Download Flyer

We have launched our new store!

shirtsThe First Responders Foundation is excited to announce that we have launched our new online store! You can now purchase foundation merchandise all in one place. We have rolled out cool new foundation shirts, new #SupportBlue shirts, and all the original #SupportBlue products. Check back often, because we are also working on creating a ‪#‎SupportRed‬ line to support our firefighters!

Be one of the first 25 people to order a t-shirt and get a free #SupportBlue window cling! Just enter “FreeCling” at check-out. Your high quality cling can endure the outside elements, making it perfect for a vehicle or outdoor window.

Let our first responders know that you appreciate what they do and that they have supporters everywhere and make a purchase today!

Shop Now

 


I Thought it Would Be the First and the Last Time I Went

Officer Carlie Potts is one of the members of the Omaha Police Honor Guard that will be going to Washington to represent the department. Officer Potts was on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Air Force ROTC Honor Guard for two years from 1999-2000. She presented Colors at Husker basketball games, and participated in Honor Guard competitions. In 2001 she was then transferred to and graduated from Wayne State in 2003.

Officer Potts joined the US Navy Reserve in 2003 and was deployed to Iraq from 2007 – 2008.During her time in the military, she joined the USNR HG and participated in funerals for fallen sailors. Officer Potts shared her most memorable time during her Honor Guard duties. She was a pall bearer for a 21 year old sailor who died in a motorcycle accident and was responsible for the folding and the presenting of the flag to his 20 year old widow. In June of 2006 Officer Potts joined the Omaha Police Department and became a member of the Honor Guard in 2008. Officer Potts met and married Omaha Police Officer Rob Wiley and two children, daughter Reagan almost four and two year old son Kolten.

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Officer Potts told us that “Being on the Honor Guard is truly an absolute honor. It was an amazingly humbling experience to be a part of Kerrie’s funeral. I was on the firing party. I never imagined having to bury a co-worker but especially not a close friend.  I knew it was a possibility but you don’t think it will really happen. I also have hand the honor of participating for the funerals of Officer Dawn POLLREIS, Officer Greg HAMILL, and Officer Torrey GULLY’S funeral who all were current OPD officers and died off duty.

My favorite part of being on Honor Guard is representing our department at the funerals of retired officers. Most of them are small, and you are in the back ground as a reminder and a thank you to their service.”

Officer Potts went on to say, “I was fortunate to participate in the Police Memorial Week 2015. I thought it was going to be the first and the last time I went. However just a few days after we returned, Kerrie was killed in the line of duty. I knew then I had to be there to represent Kerrie in 2016. My husband, who was also on the Gang Unit with Kerrie, will be going along with our two children, my mom, sister and two nephews. They all were at her funeral and want to be a part of this for Kerrie and for her family. There are MANY of us that not only were coworkers, classmates, crew-mates, but friends of Kerrie and she was our sister in blue. We all want to be there to represent her and be the best we can. It is with pride, support, honor and sorrow that will see her name forever engraved in stone at our county’s capitol. Kerrie gave the ultimate sacrifice and we will represent her true spirit in Washington along with the many other officers who also gave the ultimate sacrifice.


Learn More About the Omaha Police Honor Guard

We Remember the Officers

We remember the officers who changed our lives,
the men and woman who protected us day and night.
People who respect for their dedication to the cause,
for when faced with danger they never even pause.
We remember the officers who always stood true,
whatever the color of uniform, brown gray or blue.
With pride and integrity they say “To Serve and Protect,”
for the giving of their life… we offer our respect.
We remember the officers who we never really knew,
persons strong enough to answer the challenge are few.
With heavy hearts we mourn the officers in eternal rest,
there’s so much more to these people than the badge on their chest. 


– Author Unknown 

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Operation Smoke Detector Program Will Be at Christmas in the Village!

christmasHave you heard of the Operation Smoke Detector Program? This program is free and is designed to save lives in the event of a fire or a carbon monoxide leak in your home. Statistics show that in a fire, households that have a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm are much more likely to be awakened by the alarm and get out of the house in time to save themselves and their families.

Carbon monoxide is a deadly odorless gas emitted from a malfunctioning furnace. Without a carbon monoxide detector, there is no way to recognize the deadly gas until danger symptoms begin occurring in the body and many times it is too late for the victim to realize what is happening.

Our foundation along with the Omaha Fire Department and the Red Cross have teamed together to make sure that no family in Omaha will be left without a smoke/carbon monoxide detector in their home. So far this year the Operation Smoke Detector Program has installed 1250 detectors all at no charge to the resident!

Join Us at Christmas in the Village!

Our foundation will be at Christmas in the Village on December 5th from 12pm-5pm at 24th & Lake St. Please look for our booth. We will be partnering with the Omaha Fire Department and the Nebraska/SW Iowa Red Cross to be offering free smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. These detectors come with 10 year batteries!

Look for our booth and sign up to get one of these detectors installed absolutely free.

Can’t Make It? Request Your Detector

If you or someone you know, needs a fire/carbon monoxide detector for their home, please sign up below or call the Omaha Fire Department at 402-444-3570 to schedule your installation.

This winter give your family the “Gift of Safety.” It won’t cost you anything and it will give you the peace of mind to know that you are helping to keep your family safe.

Request Your Detector Join Facebook Event

 


A Letter to Baby Olivia

A month after Kerrie died, I wrote a letter to baby Olivia. I wanted her to know how much she had meant to me. I’m sharing it here and now because many of us from OPD want to go to DC to honor Kerrie as an Officer. I want to go to DC to honor Kerrie as the amazing friend and day-to-day hero that she was.

Dear Olivia,

It’s taken me awhile to write this letter to you. The words just never seemed to come. Usually I know what to say to someone who is grieving but to you…when I try to form the right words, I just find an emptiness in my core. Your mother was a good friend. She lived a short life but she lived more than most of us will in 80 or 90 years. She loved more than most of us can even imagine.

When I think of her, that emptiness takes over again. I feel like nothing I say to you will ever fully explain her goodness. I suppose ‘good’ is the only word I can find that really describes her. Your mother believed in the goodness of others and in the goodness of the world. She met someone and saw the potential for goodness inside them. I know she saw it in me much more than I see it in myself.

In our line of work, we mostly have contact with people when they are at the lowest moments of their lives. And sometimes those horrible moments can rub off on us. Those moments in other people’s lives begin to affect our own lives. Those moments can eat away at you at night. But that is part of the life officers choose. We choose to meet people at their worst and to absorb those moments. We know they will affect us in some way or another. They can make us hard, uncaring and sometimes they even make us complain and criticize those around us.

Your mother was the only officer I have ever met who never let those moments bother her. She would smile and she would laugh. She would say “dang it!” and the bad moment would pass. People responded to her goodness as if they could sense that goodness inside of her.

Kam & IIf you lived in our world, the world of officers, you would know how truly remarkable that was. I wish I had told her that. For months leading up to her death I found myself becoming more and more in awe of your mother. She would write me little notes on my desk and leave them to brighten up my day. And they would! Just little notes of nothing that made me smile. She did it just because she wanted to share her ‘good’ with me.

When you were born, I went to visit you and your mom. I brought gifts from a group of us officer Mommies who wanted to make sure she had everything she needed for your long stay at the hospital. She was so excited to show me your little room. She joked that all the pictures were of you and your Daddy, and that maybe the nurses liked him more than her. She doted over your “big feet”, which were so, so tiny and told me every updated statistic on your growth. She had everything memorized and could recite all your latest numbers from heart. I would have made the trip for any of my friends who but your mom wrote me the sweetest thank you note afterward, one that was so detailed and so appreciative for the little things that I did not think much of. She delivered that note after my son was born a few months later. She brought homemade treats for my little family and I introduced her to my new son.

We talked about how much she loved her temporary position with the Fugitive Unit and how she wanted to make it permanent so she could spend more time with her family, and with you. We talked about how much she loved the job and how excited she was to bring you home in a few days. She showed me the latest pictures of you on her phone. And then she left. It was just a short visit but one that I wish I had savored more.

I remember opening her thank you card that night and smiling at how sweet it was. She was so thankful that we were friends. She died a few days later. She died with those homemade treats still sitting on my counter. The days after she was killed, I thought about you every single moment of the day. My daughter ate those homemade snacks your mom made and said, “Kerrie! I love her!” I cried and cried for you. I promised your mother I would be there for you and your Daddy. So many of us from your police family also swore to protect you and your entire family.

I hope that by the time you read this, you still know my name. I hope that I have kept my promise to your mother. I hope that when you see an Omaha Police Officer you know that you are our family and that we love you. I hope that when you are old enough to see the videos of her funeral, you will understand that on the day your Mommy was buried, the entire city was silent. Thousands upon thousands of people lined the procession route, waving flags, hugging and crying. And they did it in complete silence. I have never, and hope to never, see anything like it again. During a time in American history where so many people in our society are anti-police, your mother changed the game. Her story touched people all over the world. Her goodness resonated with millions. Her picture was everywhere. On billboards, in magazines, newspapers and tv. Her name was “trending” on social media. #KerrieOn echoed everywhere. Strangers felt as though they knew her by the stories we shared. People just called her “Kerrie.” No further identification was needed. We all shared her loss. Collectively we mourned the loss of someone so good. But no one has felt the loss like your father. Your Daddy has been stronger than anyone should ever have to be. And he is doing it all for you, your sister and your brother.

In the time that has passed since your Mommy was taken, I have heard your Daddy say so many profound things. But one of the moments I will never forget was when he described how much your Mommy and Daddy “loved each other” in the five years they were together. He said that they had loved “a lifetime” in a short amount of time. They packed so much love into those short years that he was so grateful to have had them.

I pray that one day you find someone who loves you as much as your Daddy loved your Mommy. I have a feeling your Daddy will make sure that person is worthy of your love too.

Your Blue Family is always here for you, baby girl. God Bless and Kerrie On.

Officer Jessica Swanson