Gary Steiner – New Board President

The First Responders Foundation is pleased to announce Gary Steiner, as Chairman of the Board in 2020.  Gary will be instrumental in helping the Foundation fulfill its mission to serve and honor all our First Responders and their families, build appreciation and respect for their work, and to enhance public safety.

Gary formed Steiner Consulting, Inc. in 2014 after 20 years of nonprofit management and fundraising work. His firm works with mid-sized nonprofits to develop visionary plans and to secure the resources needed to turn those visions into realities.

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Awards of Excellence Recipient, Kylie Tierney

Meet Kylie Tierney!  Kylie is a recipient of the First Responders Foundation Awards of Excellence 2019!  Kylie is a freshman at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa and she is currently pursuing a Pre-Veterinarian path.

The Awards of Excellence are given to high school seniors who demonstrate good character, balanced achievement, and outstanding commitment to the community.  These students are also children of local first responders. That is what made Kylie eligible for the award. Kylie’s mom, Lt. Darci Tierney, recently retired from the Omaha Police Department after 25 years of outstanding service to the community.

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FRF Director of Development, Jodi Teal

The First Responders Foundation is pleased to officially announce the addition of Jodi Teal as the Director of Development. Jodi joins the Foundation with 15 years of nonprofit experience and is assisting with moving the Foundation toward the vision of providing a direct impact on the mental and emotional wellbeing of first responders. In her previous position, as Development Director at Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy, she served in various positions including donor relations, grant writer, event manager, fundraising, and was the liaison to outside funding opportunities in the community. Jodi has presented on fundraising, grant writing, and capacity building topics at regional and state conferences.

Jodi earned her degree in Human Resources and Family Science from University of Nebraska at Omaha and post-baccalaureate Certificate of Paralegal Studies from College of St. Mary. She completed UNO’s Certificate in Fundraising Management and Strong Nonprofit Program from the Fremont Area Community Foundation. Jodi believes in the positive nature of therapies received beyond the clinical setting. She maintains her certification as an equine specialist in Mental Health and Learning and a therapeutic riding instructor certification through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. She is currently a Board of Director member for the Little Giants Foundation.

Born and raised in Omaha, Jodi is proud to support first responders.  The Foundation is excited to have her as part of the team.  Welcome, Jodi!


Honoring Jerry Hoberman – Co-founder of the First Responders Foundation

Honoring Jerry HobermanThe First Responders Foundation is proud to honor Jerry Hoberman 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 Jerry Hoberman for supporting first responders and the First Responders Foundation.

Jerry Hoberman and Ray Somberg Co-founded the First Responders Foundation in 2009.  We are thankful for both Jerry and Ray.  This year at the Third Annual 9/11 Luncheon of Honor we will be recognizing Jerry for all he has done for First Responders.  Leading up to starting the Foundation Jerry had an opportunity to spend some time with individuals from the Omaha Fire Department and the Omaha Police Department.  Here are some reflections from Jerry.

My reflections of First Responders
by Jerry Hoberman – Co Founder of the First Responders Foundation

My neighbor John Stolinski is a Omaha firefighter. In visiting with John, I was impressed by his, as well as his fellow firefighters, dedication and caring for the citizens of our city who found themselves in need of medical attention or rescue.

I had the privilege of participating in a “practice burn” of a building. As i watched the flames curl up the wall and envelope the ceiling, as I experienced the intense heat, as the protective gear I wore became enveloped in smoke so dense I could n to see my hand in front of my face…. panic took over! All I could think was….. I HAVE TO GET OUT!

Firefighter Dan Stolinski, who was assigned to keeping me unharmed, instructed me to crawl on all fours as he lead me out of the building. When I reached the fresh air, I thought about the First Responders who risk their lives by going into burning buildings to save ours. It gave me a lasting appreciation of their courage and dedication.

I was paired with Omaha Police Officer Nyugen to go on a “Ride Along” in the late hours of the night. My heart was racing and my anxiety maxed out as I watched Office Nyugen pull over a suspected drug dealer. I sat in the cruiser as I observed him cautiously approaching the driver’s door…. never knowing what to expect, as he proceeded with the arrest.

Another call came in and we were dispatched to a domestic violence incident where a man drove his key fob into the head of his girlfriend. As we took off, all I could think about were the stories of officers who were wounded or killed responding to routine domestic violence calls.

We count on First Responders to care for us….. to protect us. These exceptional men and women, on a daily basis, put their lives in jeopardy to protect ours.

My lifelong friend, Ray Somberg had similar experiences, and together, we founded the “Firefighter & Police Appreciation Foundation” later renamed “The First Responders Foundation”

All of us at the First Responders Foundation are grateful to Jerry and Ray for starting the foundation that for 10 years has been serving and appreciating First Responders and their families.

We are very proud to be honoring Jerry Hoberman at the Third Annual 9/11 Luncheon of Honor, for all he has done for First Responders and the Foundation.

Jerry started Tires, Incorporated in 1969 and worked there until he sold the business in 1998. He is the past chairman of Del Nat. a national tire association. He is currently on the board of the Holland Foundation.  Jerry is retired.

Jerry and his wife, Cookie, just celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary.  They have three daughters, Jennifer lives in Omaha, and Robin and Lisa both reside in Chicago.  They also have and are very proud of their “FFG”, five fabulous grandchildren.

Jerry, we thank you!


Tribute Lap at I-80 Speedway This Week Will Honor Fallen First Responders

This Friday at 7pm, there will be a special tribute to fallen Officer Kerrie Orozco & Deputy Mark Burbridge at the I-80 Speedway, featuring driver Jim Cahill doing a reverse tribute lap in his car (pictured below) followed by the Omaha Police Dept., Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Dept., Douglas County Sheriff’s Dept., Ralston Police Dept., Bellevue Police Dept., La Vista Police dept., Papillion Police Dept., and the Council Bluffs Police Dept.

Cahill’s race car is wrapped in graphics as a tribute to Deputy Mark Burbridge.

The First Responders Foundation will also be on hand to participate in the tribute lap and raise money to support area first responders.


2018 Awards of Excellence Ceremony

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

The recipients were recognized at a ceremony at Champions Run on April 26th.


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.


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.


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


Join Us in Sending Prayers and Condolences to the Kansas City Fire Department

Our mission statement reads to enhance public safety and build community appreciation and respect for our first responders. No matter how much state-of-the-art equipment or training a department has, sometimes tragedies still happen. Kansas City Fire Department is currently experiencing the worst type of tragedy…times two. This is the time when appreciation and respect are about all that can be offered to the firefighters in KC.

We are sending that support in the form of prayers and condolences to the Kansas City area. Not only has their fire department lost two members, but the entire nation has lost two more heroes. Firefighters know when they take this job, these are the risks that they face each and every day and most times everyone goes home safely, but not every time. October 13 brought that reality home to the Kansas City Fire Department.

The grief is apparent as Fire Chief Paul Berardi and his staff struggle to get through their press conference. We feel their pain and the pain of their entire department. But as Chief Berardi said so emotionally, they will continue to do their jobs as they do every day. The Kansas City firefighters will get through this with heavy hearts but they took an oath to protect all of us and that is what they will continue to do. That is why we call them heroes.

Learn more about the fallen firefighters from The Kansas City Star, and join us in supporting and sending condolences to the Kansas City Fire Department by using the #SupportRed hashtag in your social media updates.