2019 Awards of Excellence Recipients Announced

The First Responders Foundation is proud and excited to announce the recipients of the 2019 “Awards of Excellence”.  These awards are meant to recognize children of our First Responders who are high school seniors and have demonstrated good character and balanced achievements in their lives.  We congratulate all the recipients.

The Awards of Excellence are made possible by our Booster Club.

Police Recipients

  • Jayden Anderson – Millard South High School
  • Joseph Barrios – Home Schooled
  • Callie Billings – Gross Catholic High School
  • Eli Bogdanoff – Blair High School
  • Logan Fornoff – Glenwood High School
  • Kaylee Flynn – Millard North High School
  • Joshua Herout – Concordia Jr./Sr. High School
  • Kiya Hudson – Millard North High School
  • Michael Kelly – Elkhorn South High School
  • Leah Millikan – Logan-Magnolia High School
  • Grant Oseka – Papillion LaVista South High School
  • Matthew Perl – Papillion LaVista South High School
  • Connor Smith – Westside High School
  • Kylie Tierney – Missouri Valley High School


Fire Recipients

  • Thomas Ahl – Louisville High School
  • Ethan Bernard – St. Albert High School
  • Alexis Buesing – Millard West High School
  • Garrison Dodge – Oakland-Craig High School
  • Tyson Guzman – Westside High School
  • Paige Holdsworth – Millard North High School
  • Colton Mallory – Fort Calhoun High School
  • Chaylea Mandina – Gretna High School
  • Camryn McLaughlin – Lincoln Southwest High School
  • Brad Noble – Papillion LaVista High School
  • Tate Patera – Platteview High School
  • Bethany Stratton – Yutan High School
  • Katherine Swan – Elkhorn High School
  • Maximus Wold – Bellevue East High School


Recipients will receive their award at the Awards of Excellence Celebration on April 11th at Champions Run.

Recipients: remember to tell your school about your award so it can be included alongside other scholarship announcements!

We appreciate the hard work and dedication exhibited by all applicants and wish everyone continued success in all future endeavors.

2018 Awards of Excellence Recipients Announced

We are proud and excited to announce the recipients of the 2018 Awards of Excellence, which go to high school seniors who are children of our First Responders and have demonstrated commitment to community.

The Awards of Excellence are made possible by our Booster Club.

Police Recipients

  • Izabela Gonzalez, Skutt Catholic High School
  • Kacie Shields, Millard West High School
  • Kayle Byrd, Bellevue West High School
  • Reed Fitzke, Fremont High School
  • Sierra Morris, Elkhorn South High School


Fire Recipients

  • Ashlyn Dippel, Fort Calhoun High School
  • Daniel Kirchofer, Creighton Preparatory
  • Delaney Doyle, Bellevue West High School
  • Holly Komenda, Raymond Central High School
  • Josie Andersen, Papillion La Vista High School


Recipients will receive their award at a celebration luncheon that is currently being scheduled. More details TBA.

Recipients: remember to tell your school about your award so it can be included alongside other scholarship announcements!

We appreciate the hard work and dedication exhibited by all applicants and wish everyone continued success in all future endeavors.

My Pie Pizza Donates $507 to First Responders Foundation from Grand Opening Weekend

As part the opening of their second location in Aksarben Center, My Pie Pizza vowed to donate 20% of all sales from Saturday, January 26th through Sunday, January 27th back to the First Responders Foundation.

“We didn’t get the best Omaha winter weather the week we opened, but we made the most of it that weekend. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to give back to the First Responders Foundation in whatever way possible,” said Blair Horner, Owner of My Pie Pizza.

Horner, and his daughter Anna Horner, General Manager, presented us with a check for $507 from the event.

“We are honored that My Pie Pizza chose the First Responders Foundation to partner with for their Grand Opening. We look forward to continuing this partnership in the future,” said Al Batschelet, President and CEO.

First Responders Foundation Announces Retirement of President and Executive Director Ray Somberg and the Appointment of Major General Al Batschelet as President and CEO

The First Responders Foundation is formally announcing the retirement of co-founder and President and Executive Director Ray Somberg. Ray and longtime friend Jerry Hoberman founded the 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2008 in an effort to enhance public safety and build community appreciation and respect for our first responders.

Under Ray’s leadership, the First Responders Foundation has donated more than 1.5 million dollars for much needed equipment and support for Omaha’s police and fire departments.

“The First Responders Foundation provides so much more than financial resources for our police and fire departments. It creates community pride, gratitude and public awareness of the risks police officers and firefighters take every day,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “The Foundation started as a way to thank our first responders. Now it’s our turn to thank Ray for his lifelong dedication to Omaha and support of public safety.”

The foundation is pleased to announce that Major General Al Batschelet has agreed to accept the position vacated by Somberg and will take over executive responsibilities immediately.

“We are thrilled to welcome Al, who brings a wealth of strategic planning and organizational skills and whose life’s work and experience aligns with our mission,” said Jim Hanson, Jr., Chairman of the Board. “While it will be difficult to replace Ray, we believe that Al is the perfect fit to lead the foundation into the future.”

MG Batschelet had a 33-year career in the US Army and retired as a Major General. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in history and political science from Iowa State University and three military master degrees. Al has been a motivational leader, a creative thinker and consensus builder in organizations ranging in size from several hundred to over 100,000. Most recently, he was the Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base. There Al was directly responsible for the supervision of more than 4,000 military and civilian staff personnel in 10 operating units.

The First Responders Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that partners directly with Omaha’s police and fire departments and unions to provide meaningful resources and vital equipment and create programs and events that make a positive impact on the community.

Jim Hanson, Jr. | 402.657.9022 | jim@intouchcommunications.com

2017 Awards of Excellence Recipients Announced

We are proud and excited to announce the winners of our inaugural “Awards of Excellence” program, which go to high school seniors who are children of our First Responders and have demonstrated commitment to community.

The Awards of Excellence are made possible by our Booster Club. 

The following are the 2017 Winners:

Melanie Doyle, Bellevue West High School
Katlyn Holaday, Cam High School (Iowa)
Kaitlynn Johnson, Millard West High School
Brenden O’Brien, Lewis Central High School
Katharine Moore, Duchesne Academy
Victor Salerno, Glenwood Community High School
Baily OBorny, Bennington High School
Madison Swanson, Mercy High School
Elizabeth Rockwell, Millard NorthHigh School
Brooklyn Housh, Millard West High School

We appreciate the hard work and dedication exhibited by all applicants and wish everyone continued success in all future endeavors.

To support this program and the First Responders Foundation into the future, we invite you to become a member of the Booster Club! Receive a free gift with your $40 membership.

Taco Johns Donates $7,000 to First Responders Foundation

Thank you to Taco John’s Restaurants for the kind donation to The First Responders Foundation!

Pictured (left to right):

Larry Pace
Scott McLaughlin
Ray Somberg
Bruce Newton
Jeff Bremer
Andrew Luethge
Debbie Bremer
Lori Rockwell
Jeff Rockwell
John Stolinski

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


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.



Jim Hanson
First Responders Foundation

Bridget Fitzpatrick
Omaha Police Department

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


Is #SupportBlue helping or hurting police/community relationship?

Originally published by Brandon McDermott, KVNO News


Omaha, NE – A campaign called Support Blue started late last year in Omaha as a way to bring support for law enforcement together. Following the death of Omaha police officer Kerrie Orozco in May the campaign ramped up and has even seen interest in neighboring cities, like Chicago. KVNO reports on why the Support Blue campaign started and if it’s helpful in bringing people together or if it could be divisive.

The Support Blue campaign started in Omaha following the murder of two New York City police officers in December of 2014. Investigators said the execution style killings were in revenge of the Eric Garner death at the hands of NYC police earlier in the year.

The Support Blue campaign (#SupportBlue) was started by First Responders Foundation and spearheaded by Bridget Fitzpatrick to show support for law enforcement. Fitzpatrick is the social media coordinator for the Omaha Police Department. The civil unrest around the country in 2014 stemming from shooting deaths of unarmed citizens also played into the formation of #SupportBlue, according to Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick and the First Responders Foundation asked local businesses to put up ‘Support Blue’ stickers in their store fronts and had people take pictures with police to post to social media, to increase awareness of how important law enforcement is in our community.

“What can we do for our law enforcement community to help this? And we know that the majority of people do support the police,” Fitzpatrick says. ”But they’re just quiet. So, we wanted to come up with a way where people could publicly show their support of police.”

Fitzpatrick says the tragic shooting death of Officer Kerrie Orozco in May of this year helped bring the Omaha community together.

“During that time when we saw all those people with #SupportBlue signs, #SupportBlue shirts. It gave the community a way to grieve together. But it was also a way to show their support together.”

opd2John Crank is a professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Crank says the death of Officer Orozco sent a shock-wave throughout Omaha.

“That was a rough thing to go through and it hurt the community and generated a lot of pain,” Crank says.

He says organizers of #SupportBlue are reaching out to an existing community to strengthen binds, so to speak.

“They are very supportive of the Police, supporters are very loyal. They tend to be people that come from military backgrounds, police backgrounds and fire backgrounds or other public service backgrounds. And they will gather around when they feel like police are threatened.”

But this week James Comey, the Director of the FBI, said the #BlackLivesMatter movement and also pro-law enforcement campaigns cause further division between the police and the communities in which they serve. He said this is because they can be misunderstood. Comey said in a speech to students at the University of Chicago Law School that “I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says police have become ‘fetal’ adding: “They have pulled back from the ability to interdict … they don’t want to be a news story themselves, they don’t want their career ended early, and it’s having an impact.”

John Crank says most police officers misjudge how they are viewed.

“They don’t think people like them generally. I’ve done a number of these surveys. I’ve given the same survey to citizens and police. Police consistently have a lower or estimation of what citizens think of them than they (citizens) actually do.”

Crank says we all know police officers are there to serve and protect; to provide security for citizens and thereby improving the quality of life. But is a push to further display supporting the police causing a division in Omaha? Fitzpatrick doesn’t think so.

“It’s respect. I liken it to when the Vietnam, when soldiers came back and people spit on them, threw tomatoes at them and protested against them. Well now it’s the same thing only – they’re killing them.”

Professor Crank said police deaths have slowly declined since 2001 when 242 officers died in the line of duty. In 2005 that figure dropped to 166 and this year there have been 103 police deaths through October 29.

While #SupportBlue is rallying people already prone to support law enforcement, officers know the real way to make a change is by meeting and having a relationship with the people they protect.

Events like last week’s OPD sponsored ‘Cops and Bobbers’ event at Benson Park in Omaha, play an important role in that relationship. Police officers helped show kids from 5-17 how to fish first hand and offered a free lunch. It’s a small step, Crank says, but it lets people in the community know it’s okay to support the men and women in Blue.

Hispanic Radio Station Lobo 97.7 Interviews the Foundation On Our Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detector Program!

Omaha’s Hispanic radio station Lobo 97.7 recently found out about our combination carbon monoxide and smoke detector program and reached out for an interview. They not only think the program is valuable, but also want to spread awareness and keep their audience informed, particularly with the loss of two lives in the South Omaha boarding house near Christmas time of last year.

Watch Radio Lobo’s Yanira Garcia interview Kathi Burt, First Responders Foundation executive assistant, and Antonio Lara, OFD Captain, on the program and its benefits!


¡Gracias a Lobo 97.7!