“My Dad instilled in me a love and respect for animals. This is a good way to combine that passion with a desire to support the police and fire departments, which deserve all the appropriate resources needed to protect our cities and neighborhoods, and allow these brave men and women to arrive home safely.” — Ben.
About The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation:
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation seeks to support police and fire departments throughout the U.S. with a particular emphasis on support for K-9 units and service dogs.
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation also works with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. For the past several years, Ben has devoted his time to the Make-A-Wish Foundation because of his passion to help children. One of the most memorable of these Make-A-Wish moments was when he met 14-year old Akeem Havens, who signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers in May of 2008 to become one of Ben’s go-to wide receivers for the day!
In commenting on why establishing a charitable foundation is important to him, Ben said, “I have been blessed with opportunities throughout my life to pursue my goals and achieve some success, all under the guidance of a loving family and supportive communities. I was raised to appreciate my blessings and always try to help others who may not be as fortunate. I feel honored to be able to do so.”
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, founded by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, welcomes grant inquiries for foundation support. The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation will disperse grants to police and fire departments’ canine units throughout the US.
*If you would like to make a donation to The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at the Giving Back Fund, just click here.
On December 4th, Ben announced the 11th and 12th grant awards of the 2017 season to the West Chester Police Department in Ohio and the Fort Mitchell Police Department in Kentucky, both just outside of Cincinnati where the Steelers played the Bengals that same evening.
“The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation grant affords the West Chester Police Department the opportunity to build upon its critically important canine unit, taking a step closer to the 3-member full complement of our unit. The community is grateful for the grant and will gladly welcome a new canine to the West Chester Police Department.” — West Chester Police Chief Joel Herzog.
The West Chester Police will use the grant funds to replace a recently retired K-9.
More from Chief Herzog, “Early in my career with the West Chester Police Department, I had the opportunity to partner with a canine and learned firsthand the value these four-legged officers bring to law enforcement efforts. To the public, they serve as great ambassadors opening doors to build relationships with the community; but a canine officer and handler together play an integral role in searches and tracking dangerous suspects with demonstrated success in making our communities safer.”
The Fort Mitchell Police will use the funds to help maintain their K-9 unit.
“The Fort Mitchell Police Department was fortunate enough to start a police K-9 program earlier this year through the generosity of community support. We are very excited that the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has selected our agency as a recipient of a grant to further assist our program so that K-9 Tony and Specialist Best can continue their great work. As a smaller agency, it can sometimes be difficult to support a K-9 unit. This grant will provide significant help to us to keep our program running strong.” — Fort Mitchell Chief of Police Col. Andrew J. Schierberg.
On November 9th, Ben announced the ninth and tenth grant awards of the 2017 season.
“The Indiana State Police Alliance has a proud history of supporting the K-9 program. The generous grant provided by the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation will promote the continued success of the state police K-9 program.” — Scott Krueger, President, Indiana State Police Alliance.
The Indiana State Police will use the grant funds to purchase training equipment, and the Avon Police Department will use the funds to add a second dog to their K-9 unit.
“The Avon Police Department is humbled to learn that we were selected to receive the 2017 Ben Roethlisberger Foundation grant. This is an honor and privilege for the Avon Police Department, and we wish to thank Mr. Roethlisberger and his foundation for such a wonderful opportunity to make a positive impact in our community. The Avon Police Department would also like to commend Mr. Roethlisberger for his passion, dedication and generosity that he has demonstrated throughout the United States to help law enforcement agencies. The Avon Police Department looks forward to partnering with the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation in the fight against illegal narcotic distribution, sales and abuse. The Foundation’s generosity will assist the Avon Police Department with the purchase of an additional K-9 unit that will be focused on the interdiction of illegal drugs such as heroin, and other dangerous opioids that have destroyed and taken so many lives. With this grant and the dedication of the men and women of the Avon Police Department, we now have the opportunity to substantially increase our resources to help reduce illegal drug activity in our community and potentially save lives.” — Chief Sean Stoops, Avon Police Department.
On October 26th, Today Ben announced the seventh and eighth grant awards of the 2017 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
Ben’s foundation distributed grants to the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office and the Livonia Police Department, both just outside of Detroit where the Steelers played the Lions on Sunday, October 29th.
“We would like to express our gratitude to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for choosing our office as a grant recipient. This funding will help to build our K-9 program with the purchase of a new dog. Our K-9 units play an important role in our law enforcement efforts, both in the community and our jail, while strengthening our relationship with our citizens.” — Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham.
On September 28th, Ben announced the fourth grant award of the 2017 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund. The Foundation distributed a grant to the Bladensburg Police Department, just southwest of Baltimore where the Steelers played the Ravens on October 1st.
“The Bladensburg Police Department is delighted to learn that we have been chosen as a recipient of a grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation as startup funding for implementation of a police K-9 unit. Public safety is a top priority of Mayor Walter Lee James, Jr. and the Town Council of Bladensburg as well as the men and women of the Bladensburg Police Department. Establishment of a K-9 unit will assist us as we continue to reduce crime in Bladensburg and as we enhance our community policing efforts.” — Bladensburg Police Chief Tracy Stone.
The Bladensburg Police Department will use the grant funds to establish a new K-9 unit with a dual purpose police dog.
On September 21st, Ben announced that the third grant of the season was award to the Lombard Police Department, just west of Soldier Field where Steelers played the Bears on September 24th.
The Lombard Police Department will use the grant funds to replace their existing K-9, who is currently approaching retirement and living the life of leisure.
“As our current Police K-9 Officer Chico retires, this grant will allow the Village of Lombard to continue our commitment to our K-9 program, which has been in place for more than 25 years. Our new K-9 officer will benefit the Lombard community for years to come. We certainly appreciate the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation’s ongoing dedication to local law enforcement throughout the country.” — Lombard Police Chief Roy Newton.
Blue Mountain Canine Services is a proud supporter of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation and once again provided a personalized leather collar etched with an American flag for the department’s new dog.
On September 7th, Ben announced the first grant awards of the 2017 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
The Foundation will be distributing grants to the Lorain Police Department and the Medina County Sheriff’s Office, both just outside of Cleveland where the Steelers will play the Browns this Sunday, September 10th.
The Lorain Police Department will use the grant funds to update their K-9 training equipment, while the Medina County Sheriff’s Office will use their grant to purchase safety equipment for their K-9.
“The Lorain Police Department would like to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for their generous donation, which will help ensure our K-9 program continues to serve our community as well as surrounding communities for years to come.” — Police Chief Cel Rivera, Lorain Police Department.
During the 2017 NFL season, the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation will be distributing grants to K-9 units of police and fire departments in the cities and surrounding communities of each regular season away game for the Steelers. The Foundation will also distribute several grants to the Pittsburgh area and will consider a grant to a non-NFL market city in the United States if the Steelers advance to the playoffs. Ben invited police and fire departments across the country to submit proposals detailing their needs.
This marks the 11th season that Ben’s foundation has distributed grants to K-9 units.
The mission of his foundation is to support K-9 units of police and fire departments throughout the United States, with a particular emphasis on support for service dogs in Pittsburgh, PA. Ben and his foundation also support Make-A-Wish.
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation distributed more than $150,000 in grants to K-9 units around the country during the 2016 NFL season, including $76,000 in the Pittsburgh community. The Foundation has distributed in excess of $1.65 million since 2007.
“We are fortunate to be one of this year’s grant recipients from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. Our K-9 program has become an integral part of the Medina County Sheriff’s Office. If not for the generous citizens of Medina County and others such as the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, our K-9 program would not be possible or have the success that it has achieved.” — Sheriff Tom Miller, Medina County Sheriff’s Office.
“Our department is grateful for the support from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation and The Giving Back Fund in helping us to better care for our K-9’s. Thank you to the Giving Back Fund for overseeing this grant process and to Mr. Roethlisberger for his support of Law Enforcement K-9 Units. — Sgt. Bev Fraser, Medina County Sheriff’s Office.
Blue Mountain Canine Services is a proud supporter of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation and provides a personalized leather collar etched with an American flag for each new dog awarded by the Foundation.
On February 15, 2017, Ben announced the final grants of the 2016-17 season from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at www.givingback.org. The Foundation will be distributing eight grants totaling $76,000 to police departments in the Pittsburgh area.
The K-9 departments receiving funding from Ben this year include the Arnold Police Department, Castle Shannon Police Department, Findlay Township Police Department, Ligonier Township Police Department, Mt. Oliver Police Department, Penn Hills Police Department, West Mifflin Borough Police Department, and the
Wheeling West Virginia Police Department. These departments will be utilizing their respective grants in a variety of canine-focused initiatives including the purchase and training of new K-9s, replacing and upgrading K-9 vehicles, and the acquisition of new safety & training equipment.
This announcement completes the foundation’s tenth grant cycle, during which it distributed more than $150,000 in grants to K-9 units around the country. In addition to the Pittsburgh grants announced, the Foundation distributed grants to K-9 units of police departments in the cities and surrounding communities of each regular season away game for the Steelers. Ben invited police and fire departments across the country to submit proposals detailing their needs.
Ben is grateful for the generous supporters who have enabled him to expand the K-9 grant program, including Pro Camps and Allegheny County District Attorney Office, as well as caring individual donors from around the country.
Sgt. Neil H. Cridge stated, “On behalf of the Findlay Township Police Department and its residents, we would like to extend our appreciation to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation and The Giving Back Fund for their continued dedication to the law enforcement community! With the grant funding, the Findlay Township Police K-9 Unit was able to continue the program after the passing of K-9 Axel. This grant allows small departments like ours to continue to provide a higher level of service to our community, as well as surrounding areas. K-9 Scooby has already begun to make his mark in our area on the street and in the community.”
Sgt. James Friscarella said, “On behalf of the Ligonier Township Police and K-9 Kilo, I would like to send a heartfelt thank you for providing us with the grant to help fund our K-9 program. Without the help of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, we would not be able to outfit our program with the latest in technology to keep Kilo and I safe. This grant is accepted in the memory of Lt. Eric Eslary who was killed in the line of duty in 2015. The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation had previously funded Lt. Eslary’s K-9 program with K-9 Blek. Thank you again.”
Officer Thomas Snyder said, “Mt. Oliver Police Department is thankful to Ben and the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for the work that they have done and their continued support for law enforcement K-9 units. With the grant, we are able to continue our program and place a new K-9 team in service.”
Chief Howard Burton commented, “The Penn Hills Police Department greatly appreciates the generosity of Mr. Roethlisberger and The Giving Back Fund for their support of local law enforcement agencies. The awarding of this K-9 grant will allow the Penn Hills Police Department to fill the K-9 position that has been vacant due to funding issues over the past year. The addition of this K-9 will bring our K-9 division up to its full complement of four teams. All of our K-9s are Roethlisberger grant dogs.”
Chief Kenneth I. Davies said, “It is with the sincerest appreciation and gratitude that the West Mifflin Police Department can convey to Ben Roethlisberger and the Foundation for your outstanding contribution to our canine program. These funds are critical for our department’s continued development of a professional canine program that serves and assists the people in our community and the region. Again, thank you, your generosity and commitment to public safety is to be commended.”
“The Northern Kentucky University Police Department is honored to receive this grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. The funding will allow us to ensure the safety of our K-9 officer, Arritt, who works to keep our campus and region safe. We thank and commend the Foundation for its dedication to public safety service K-9 units.” — Lieutenant John Gaffin, Interim Chief of Police, Northern Kentucky University Police.”
On December 15th, Ben announced the twelfth and thirteenth grant of the season.
The Foundation distributed grants to the Erlanger Police Department and the Northern Kentucky University Police not far from the Cincinnati, Ohio area where the Steelers played the Bengals on December 18th.
The Erlanger Police Department intends to use their grant to purchase a new K-9 officer to assist with protecting and serving the Kenton County community.
“The Erlanger Kentucky Police Department is fortunate to be receiving a $10,000 check from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. Our mission is to help and assist any agency at any time upon any requests. The funds will go towards the purchase of a brand new K-9 unit which includes the dog and training for a handler.” — Officer Edward Bailey, Erlanger Police Department.
“Arritt (photo above with his partner, Officer Murray) is an explosives detection canine provided to the University in 2012 via a grant from the Department of Homeland Security. Arritt and Officer Murray provide immediate and specialized response to bomb threats and unattended packages. This team conducts searches for a variety of explosive materials near building exteriors, parking lots, office areas, vehicles, packages, people in and around the campus, and assists other agencies in the region.” — Lieutenant John Gaffin, Interim Chief of Police, Northern Kentucky University Police.
On December 8th, Ben announced the tenth and eleventh grants of the 2016 season.
The Foundation will be distributing grants to the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office and East Aurora-Town of Aurora Police Department in the Buffalo, New York area where the Steelers play the Bills on Sunday, December 11th.
The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office will use their grant to purchase a K-9 dog. The East Aurora-Town of Aurora Police Department will use their grant to purchase a K-9 ballistic vest and cargo box for the K-9 patrol vehicle.
Deputy, Bryan S. Burmaster stated, “Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office is extremely grateful for the generosity of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation and we are very excited to have been selected as one of this year’s grant recipients. We are very proud of our K-9 unit’s success and funding from the Foundation will allow us to continue to provide the citizens of our county with the best K-9 assets around. We would like to thank Lakeshore Humane Society for being our sponsor in this endeavor. On behalf of all law enforcement K-9 units, we are grateful for organizations such as the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation that believe in our mission and are willing to support its success.”
Chief of Police, Shane Krieger stated, “The East Aurora-Town of Aurora Police Department thanks Ben Roethlisberger and his foundation for supporting our K-9 program. Being a small department, it is challenging to equip our officers and K-9 with the tools they need to serve and protect our community, but the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has made that job much easier. Thank you!”
On the Thanksgiving holiday, Ben announced that the ninth grant of the season would be awarded to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in the Indianapolis area where the Steelers play the Colts on Thanksgiving Day.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office will use their grant to purchase a new K-9.
“The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for its generosity in awarding us the $10,000 grant for the purchase of a new K-9. Funding a new K-9 for the sheriff’s office will have a such a positive effect not only for the sheriff’s office, but for the entire community. Again, thank you to Mr. Roethlisberger and the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.” — Chief Deputy Ryan Needham, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
On November 17th, Ben announced the eighth grant of the 2016 season.
His Foundation distributed a grant to the North Ridgeville Police Department.
North Ridgeville is a city of 31,871 located in Lorain County in Northeast Ohio, and is just 30 minutes from Cleveland, where the Steelers will play the Cleveland Browns this Sunday, November 20th.
North Ridgeville will use their grant to purchase and train a dual purpose K-9.
“The North Ridgeville (OH) Police Department would like to extend our sincere gratitude and thanks to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation and The Giving Back Fund for being awarded a K-9 grant. The Foundation’s generous contribution to our K-9 program will provide the essential funds to purchase another K-9 for the citizens of North Ridgeville. We thank Mr. Roethlisberger and his foundation for their continued support of police K-9 programs throughout the country.” — Capt. Marti Garrow, Operations Commander, North Ridgeville Police Department.
On November 3rd,Today, Ben announced the sixth and seventh grants of the season.
The Foundation is distributing grants to the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office and Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal, all in the Baltimore area where the Steelers will play the Ravens on Sunday, November 6th.
“We are exceptionally grateful to The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for selecting the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office for this most gracious grant. The funds will be used to launch a much needed bloodhound unit at the Sheriff’s Office and thereby greatly enhance our search, rescue and tracking capabilities. A bloodhound unit has been a goal of the Sheriff’s Office for several years and this grant will finally bring it to fruition.” — Caroline County Sheriff Randy Bounds.
“The Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal is extremely appreciative of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation Grant Program. The $2,000 being received through this grant process will provide necessary Safestop Vehicle Anti-theft Systems for our K-9 Team vehicles. A K-9 vehicle must remain operating to allow for climate control inside the vehicle for the safety of the Accelerant and Bomb detection dogs.” — Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci.
On October 13th, Ben announced the third and fourth grants of the 2016 season.
The Foundation will be distributing grants to the Cape Coral Police Department and the Davie Police Department, all in the Miami area where the Steelers play the Dolphins this Sunday.
“Police K-9 are the pro-athletes of the dog world. Keeping our K-9 partners in top form requires daily training and agility equipment is one of the best tools we have to keep our K-9s fit, agile, and ready for anything. I’d like to thank the officers of our K-9 Unit, Officers Jason Matyas, Bob Reese, and Brian Aponte, without whose expertise we would not have even been able to apply for this grant. Thank you to The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for making this possible. This generous donation will help our K-9s continue to keep the citizens of Cape Coral, and the officers who protect them, safer every day.” — Det. Sergeant Dana Coston, Cape Coral Police Department Public Affairs Officer.
The Cape Coral Police Department will use their grant to build a new obedience obstacle course to assist with the training of its K-9 unit. The Davie Police Department will use their funds for the purchase of a new K-9 “bite suit” utilized in training.
“The Davie Police Department exists to serve and protect the citizens of both the Town of Davie and the Town of Southwest Ranches. We are grateful that people like Ben Roethlisberger and the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund, are there in support of the police.” — Sergeant Mark Leone, Davie Police Department.
On September 22nd, Ben announced that the second grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund was awarded to the Willingboro Township Police in New Jersey – just northeast of Philadelphia where the Steelers play the Eagles on Sunday, September 25th.
The Willingboro Township Police will use the grant funds to add a dual purpose (patrol and narcotics) K-9 to their unit.
“We extend our gratitude to Ben Roethlisberger and his foundation for donating funds to purchase a police K-9. This grant will allow the police department to enhance the service that it provides to the community by adding a new K-9 team on patrol. It is evident that Mr. Roethlisberger is a committed community partner, and we will be forever grateful for the support from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.” — Lieutenant Ian S. Bucs, Unit Supervisor, Willingboro Township Police Department.
The Foundation distributed a grant to the Arlington County, VA Police Department – not too far from where the Steelers played the Washington Redskins on September 12th.
The Arlington County Police Department will use the grant funds to purchase ballistic vests for their existing seven K-9’s.
“Our K-9s are integral members of the Arlington County Police Department, both in the field and from a community outreach perspective. We are grateful to receive this grant so we can provide our K-9’s with ballistic vests as an added layer of protection to keep them safe.” — Arlington County Police Chief M. Jay Farr.
Thank you Ben!
In April of 2017, a special grant was given to the Wheeling, WV Police Department.
The department received a $10,000 check from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation to help their K-9 program.
“The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation does a lot of good things in the community, and we’re happy to be a part of that, and (we’re) certainly very thankful that they recognized the Wheeling Police Department to make a contribution to our K-9 unit,” Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger said.
The Community Impact Coalition worked with Ben’s foundation to obtain the grant.
“It feels great to help them out” said Lori Garett-Bumba from the Communication Impact Coalition. “They have helped us out so much over the past few years. Since 2005, they partnered with us for Project Sticker Shock and prescription drug takebacks and the very first med return box here in the state of West Virginia.”
“We outfitted one of our brand new cruisers that you see over here with that money and there’s a lot involved with a K-9 specific vehicle,” Schwertfeger said.
Schwertfeger says they already have five K-9s, who are such a valuable asset to the officers.
“We have four narcotics dogs and a bomb dog,” Schwertfeger said. “We’re one of the few departments in the area that has an explosives detection dog.
“It’s a great community policing initiative, or tool, and these handlers are awesome. They’re really good working with children, members of the community and they are always there for me.”
December 22, 2016 –
“We greatly appreciate the grants Mr. Roethlisberger has provided to us. They benefit not only our K9’s and their partners, but they also benefit our communities because the dogs are more readily available to help with calls for service,” — Sheriff Berry.
Meet Opie, a handsome and curious German shepherd from the Czech Republic, who will soon become one of the newest patrol and drug detection K9 members of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office. Opie was acquired earlier this year after Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, tossed a grant to the CCSO worth $8,000, as part of his longtime commitment to enhancing K9 units for police and fire departments throughout the country.
Opie joined the CCSO when he was 16-months old and has been with his human partner, PFC Steven Davis – a 12-year-veteran – ever since. They are currently in K9 patrol training for 16 weeks and will continue with narcotics detection school for another 10 weeks. Upon graduation, they will become a vital part of patrol operations. “Opie will be able to help officers track missing or wanted persons, search for evidence, and conduct other essential patrol duties,” said Sheriff Troy D. Berry.
As far as Opie’s personality, his handler says Opie is focused while training, loves rewards for doing a good job, and is completely lovable when he’s not working. “Opie is really good at obedience, mostly because he loves to play fetch after we’re done training.
When I bring him home after work, he loves to play with my children and our other dogs,” said PFC Davis. “In fact, Opie and my daughter have a special bond she formed on her own. She likes to greet Opie with a very high-pitched, sweet voice whenever she says hello to him, and Opie tilts his head whenever he hears her voice as if he’s paying full attention. She doesn’t use that voice with our other dogs.”
With the grant, the agency was also able to purchase other necessities for all of the K9’s to include heated water buckets; large, durable Kong toys used as rewards for the K9’s; and two transport kennels.
Mr. William Cotton, Lead K9 Trainer for the CCSO, said the K9 Unit currently has 11 canines that work with patrol officers during each shift, every day of the week. All K9’s are crossed trained in drug detection and patrol, and two of the eleven dogs are skilled in explosive odor detection.
“I’m proud of everyone who worked on this grant. It was a collaborative effort between the CCSO and the Department of Emergency Services. They worked hard to prepare the grant application and their efforts paid off. We are so grateful to the The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for selecting us. This is the second grant the CCSO has been awarded from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation – the first was in 2014 in which the agency purchased Cooper, a Belgian Malinois, who went on to become a bronze medal winner in the 2015 World Police & Fire Games. — Sheriff Berry.
December 17, 2016:
“Sir, you changed my life forever due to this great cause. Can’t lie, Taylor & I are Broncos fans but we’re also huge fans of yours. Thank you for what you do to help local LE’s.” — Deputy John “Patrick” Hynes.
And more from Deputy Hynes:
“I received Taylor through Mr. Roethlisberger’s grant program in 2012, & we have been an Explosives Detection K-9 Team ever since. She is a six and a half year old chocolate lab that is very good at her job — finding explosives & interacting with kids at public relation events. Our partnership would not have been possible without Mr. Roethlisberger and his foundation! Again, thank you sir.”
Deputy Hynes, thank YOU for taking a moment to share this with us. Be safe and thank you for what you do!
November 30, 2016: K9 Steel is the newest member of the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office, thanks to The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation!
“Steel” joins three other police K9s in this Virginia department. He is a Czech Shepherd born on June 5, 2015 in the Czech Republic. He now lives with his handler, Deputy B. Demerci and his family.
This is Deputy Demerci’s first time working a police dog. Steele and Deputy Demerci received their Police K-9 Handler Team Certification after graduating from the Virginia Police K9 Association/Professional Canine Services, Inc. just a couple of weeks ago, on November 18th. Steel is certified in Police Patrol/Utility and K9 Explosives Detection.
This is when it gets cool…
Within a week of graduating from K9 School, Deputy Demerci and K9 Steel were dispatched to a robbery call while out on patrol. After a perimeter was established, this 4-legged rookie was able to track the suspect behind a fence into an enclosed back yard. The suspect was taken in to custody without further incident or injury to anyone. But Steel wasn’t done! He was then able to track the suspected weapon used in the attempted robbery under a blanket in a nearby baby stroller.
Thank you, Ben, for giving this grant to the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office. The expansion of the K9 unit will certainly assist in the protection of the citizens and the community in which Steel will serve. Organizations such as The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation are priceless. There are no words to express the appreciation felt for the Ben and his foundation for giving us the opportunity to grow within the unit and department. The citizens of Stafford County, as well as the Sheriff’s Office, will certainly benefit from this generous contribution. —
Also on November 30, 2016: Ben made the choice of a team to root for a lot easier for the Bistany Family.
My name is Jesse Bistany and I am a Lieutenant with the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office in NJ.
I wanted to take this time to personally tell you that I appreciate everything you do for law enforcement!!! As a 42-year old male who loves football, baseball has always been my favorite sport (Yankees) and I just never had a football team that I strictly rooted for. When I learned of what you have been doing for law enforcement with all your donations to K-9’s and various police equipment, I was taken back a bit – in a good way.
It’s very rare to see very successful sports figures who want to give back like you do. You are a stand-up guy, and I hope this gets out there for the world to see, not for my exposure but for yours! You can even take my name out of this.
My daughter just said to me the other day, “Daddy we need to pick a team to root for.” I told her we will be Steelers fans now, and support a team and a quarterback who supports us!!!
Once again thank you for your support and I say this on behalf of all of Law Enforcement agencies out there. It’s time that you were recognized for the good things you do. Thank you. A Steelers fan for life !!!! — Lt. Jesse Bistany, Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office, NJ.
Thank you to the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit and to Lt. Bistany for taking the time to share your thoughts on Ben’s foundation! God bless and protect you all as you continue to protect us!
To round out the 2015-2016 season, Ben announced the final grants on February 24, 2016. The Foundation distributed eight grants totaling $93,250 to police departments in the Pittsburgh area.
“At a time when the responsibilities associated with protecting and serving our citizens is becoming greater, and our budgets are becoming smaller, the grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation to the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office is truly a godsend.” — Beaver County Sheriff Tony Guy.
The K-9 departments who recieved funding from his foundation this year include the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, Beaver County Sheriff’s Office, Beaver Police Department, Bethel Park Police Department, City of McKeesport Police Department, City of Sharon Police Department, Elizabeth Borough Police Department and Shenango Township Police Department. These departments will be utilizing their respective grants in a variety of canine-focused initiatives including the purchase and training of new K-9s, replacing and upgrading K-9 vehicles and the acquisition of new safety and training equipment.
This announcement completes the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation’s ninth grant cycle, during which it distributed more than $170,000 in grants to K-9 units around the country. In addition to the Pittsburgh grants announced, the Foundation distributed grants to K-9 units of police departments in the cities and surrounding communities of each regular season away game for the Steelers. The Foundation invited police and fire departments across the country to submit proposals detailing their needs.
Ben and his foundation are grateful for the generous supporters who have enabled them to expand their K-9 grant program, including Apollo Jets, Pro Camps and Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office as well as caring individual donors from around the country.
Garrett K. Kimmell of Elizabeth Borough Police shared, “My lifelong dream has been to be a police K-9 handler. The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has helped make that dream come true. It would have been very difficult to pursue a K-9 unit without this assistance.”
Shenango Township Police Officer Daniel Tressler said, “The Shenango Township Police Department is extremely grateful to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for their very generous grant. This grant will be used to purchase and train a new dual-purpose canine unit to continue the canine program at Shenango Township. We deeply appreciate the grant that the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has awarded us. Being a smaller department it is often difficult to afford the upfront costs of purchasing and training a new canine unit. This grant will cover those costs and ensure that the canine unit will continue at Shenango Township.” Tressler continued, “Continuing the canine unit will enable our department to combat the ongoing heroin epidemic and better serve our community as a whole. I look forward to the opportunity to train and work with the Shenango Police Department’s newest canine officer.”
Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen said, “I’d like to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation and the Roethlisberger Family for this grant award. The Sheriff’s Office K-9s are vital to upholding the security of Allegheny County’s seven-building court campus and the hundreds of people who visit facilities each day. We salute The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for its efforts to ensure our K-9 team remains effective in preserving the safety of County citizens.”
Photo: Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office.
On the last day of 2015, Ben announced the tenth, eleventh & twelfth grants of the 2015-16 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
It was starting out as a very Happy New Year for the Aurora Police Department, Cleveland Metroparks Ranger Department and the Richmond Heights Police Department, all in the Cleveland area where the Steelers played the Browns on Sunday, January 3rd, 2016.
Aurora PD has just recently re-established their K-9 unit with the addition of K-9 Nero (in the photo) and plans to use the funds to finish Nero’s training and outfit him with a bulletproof vest.
“The Aurora Police Department is extremely grateful to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for their generous contribution toward the purchasing of K-9 Nero who will make a great addition to our department. On behalf of all of law enforcement, we are grateful to have organizations such as the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation that provide continued support to law-enforcement entities across the country.” — Aurora Chief of Police Brian Byard.
Richmond Heights PD is also hoping to re-establish their K-9 unit and will continue fundraising efforts.
Meanwhile, Cleveland Metroparks Ranger Department will utilize the grant to update the “hot-n-pop” system in one of their K-9 vehicles. The system allows for remote door operation and heat alerts, ensuring the safety of the K-9 when left in the vehicle.
On December 23rd, Ben announced the ninth grant of the 2015-16 season.
The Foundation distributing a grant to the Charles County Sheriff’s Office (MD) southwest of Baltimore where the Steelers played the Ravens on Sunday, December 27th.
“We are thrilled to be receiving another grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. Our K-9s are an important part of our agency and do most of their work under critical circumstances. They have saved lives, recovered evidence, tracked dangerous suspects and helped locate missing people. This grant will allow us to continue providing superior K-9 service to our community and our officers. We thank The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation and their commitment to this wonderful program.” — Charles County Sheriff Troy D. Berry.
The Sheriff’s Office plans to use the funds to replace a retiring 8-year-old K-9, Erno, with a K-9 dual-trained in patrol and narcotics.
On December 10th, Christmas came early for two police agencies –
Ben’s foundation distributed grants to the Ludlow (KY) Police Department and the Middletown (OH) Police Department, just east and north, respectively, of Cincinnati where the Steelers played the Bengals on Sunday, December 13th.
Both police departments have recently expanded their K-9 units to include narcotics detection dogs. The Ludlow Police Department plans to apply the grant awarded toward the purchase of two vehicle kennel inserts while the Middletown Police Department will upgrade the storage trailer and purchase items for training with grant funds.
Middletown Chief of Police Rodney Muterspaw said, “A huge thank you to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for their kind support in our endeavors. We have a long history of an excellent K-9 program here in Middletown. Our newest K-9 team (Warrick & Odin) will start in January and will be different than any other team we have had at MPD. Unlike past K-9s that have been assigned to patrol duties, this K-9 will be a drug detector dog assigned exclusively to the Special Operations unit. This assignment further strengthens the city’s commitment to battle the heroin epidemic.”
Ludlow Chief of Police Scott Smith said, “We, along with our partners at the Fraternal Order of Police Associate Lodge, are very excited to have been selected as one of the grant recipients of The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. The police K-9s that this helps us fund will help make an impact in the heroin epidemic facing the region. We can’t wait to work with them to continuing building stronger relationships with our community.”
On Thanksgiving Eve, Ben announced the fifth and sixth grants of the 2015-16 season.
The Foundation will be distributing grants to the Renton and Bellevue Police Departments, just south and east, respectively, of Seattle where the Steelers will play the Seahawks on Sunday, November 29th.
The Renton Police Department is planning to add a narcotics trained K-9 to their existing team of three tracking K-9s with their Patrol Division.
Renton Chief of Police Kevin Milosevich said, “This donation allows us to start a new canine program that will greatly improve our ability to investigate narcotic crimes in Renton. We are pleased to be selected for this grant, and appreciate the ongoing support the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation provides to police departments for their K9 programs.”
The Bellevue Police Department requested the grant to outfit their newest K-9, Ozzy, with a ballistic vest. K-9 Ozzy just completed his training in May of this year.
Bellevue Chief of Police Steve Mylett said, “We are very appreciative of this generous grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, which will help provide a ballistic vest for K-9 Ozzy. Just as our officers wear ballistic vests when they are on patrol, this vest will help protect Ozzy while he is serving the people of Bellevue.”
Now this isn’t a grant, however….On November 3rd –
“I would like to thank The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation and Nashville K-9 for the generous donation of K-9 Fanta to the Arnold Police Department. With always declining budgets of police departments, this donation allows us to maintain a full K-9 team for the Arnold Missouri Police Dept. This is a beautiful dog and with it’s training in place, she will make quick work on our department to get her on the street, helping to serve and protect our community.” — Chief Robert R. Shockey
In October, Nashville K-9 contacted The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation with the hope of finding a “home” for a dog that they trained and thought would be perfect as a K9 officer for a department in need. Ben’s foundation connected Nashville K9 with all of the police department applicants that were not selected to receive a grant during this NFL season.
The Arnold Police Department in Missouri jumped at the chance! In fact, they drove to Nashville to meet and pick up the dog last week and were so excited by their new K9 officer, that they sent us the photo above.
“It’s with our great pleasure to donate K-9 Fanta to the Arnold (MO) Police Department. Fanta is a two year old German Shepherd imported from Germany and will be used as a narcotics and demonstration dog for the APD K-9 unit. She’s well trained in obedience and loves children.” — Ali Hemyari, CEO Nashville K-9.
Thank you to Nashville K9 for allowing us the opportunity to assist them in helping another community receive a trained K9 officer, free of charge, and to Jessica Duffaut at the Giving Back Fund, who oversees Ben’s foundation!
And of course, congratulations to the Arnold Police Department on your new officer!
October 22nd – Ben announced the fourth grant of the 2015-16 season from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
The Foundation distributed a grant to the Shawnee Police Department just southwest of Kansas City where the Steelers played the Chiefs on Sunday, October 25th.
With this grant, the Shawnee Police Department will expand from two to three K-9s in their unit adding a dual purpose explosive team.
Shawnee K-9 Officer Shaun Arnold said, “It’s an honor accept this generous donation from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. I’m proud to call the City of Shawnee my home, and wake up every day with pride that I get to serve the citizens of the greater Kansas City area. I’ve been a K-9 handler for five years. It’s a position that I have always wanted to hold, dating back to the days I served in the United States Army. I’ve seen our unit grow from one to two K-9 teams within the last seven years. We knew we could serve the area better with a third K-9 team, however it is a difficult item to pass with the budget constraints every municipality faces. Words cannot express how thankful we are for the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.”
October 8th – Ben announced the third grant of the 2015-16 season from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
“Thank you for considering the San Diego Police Department. The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation made an excellent choice in the El Cajon Police Department. I have gotten to know their command staff quite well and they are a worthy and deserving recipient. As a member of the K9 community, I wanted to say thank you to you and the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for supporting the police K9 community. As you know, these great tools are a vital life saving resource and your support nationally will only improve police responses to critical incidents and subsequently, influence the perception the public has on what we do. In this day and age it is refreshing to see this kind of support. I don’t have to be a recipient to say thank you.” — Lieutenant Duane Voss, San Diego Police Department Canine Unit.
The Foundation will be distributing a grant to the El Cajon Police Department just east of San Diego where the Steelers will play the Chargers on October 12th. The El Cajon Police plan to use the grant toward the purchase of a new K-9 for their four-dog unit.
“The El Cajon Police Department recently learned we have been selected by the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation to receive a grant award to purchase a police service dog and kennel. The purchase of this service dog will allow us to replace a retiring dog, allowing us to continue to serve the citizens of El Cajon and surrounding agencies through mutual aid. On behalf of the City of El Cajon and the El Cajon Police Department, I would like to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for their support and generosity. It’s partnerships like these that continue to make our communities safer.” — Jim Redman, El Cajon Chief of Police.
September 24th – Ben announced the second grant of the 2015-16 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund. The Foundation will be distributing a grant to the City of Hazelwood just northwest of St. Louis where the Steelers will play the Rams on September 27, 2015.
The Hazelwood Police Department (HPD) will apply the grant funds to the purchase and training of a new dog for their K-9 unit.
Hazelwood Chief of Police, Gregg Hall, said, “The acquisition of a new canine will enable the HPD to improve its narcotic drug investigation and crime suspect apprehension capabilities in order to keep Hazelwood a safe community for its citizens.”
Hazelwood Police Captain, Mark McKeon, said, “I would like to thank the foundation and its employees for the great honor in being selected for this canine grant.”
September 9th – The Foundation distributed a grant to the Duxbury Police Department just east of Foxborough, MA where the Steelers will play the New England Patriots on Thursday, September 10th.
“On behalf of the Duxbury Police Department, we would like to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for this generous donation. Like many other departments, we face difficult times with budget cuts, and rely heavily on donations to keep our program running. With this grant, we will be able to purchase a new K-9 to help protect our community and continue the program for years to come.” — Ryan Cavicchi, K-9 Officer for the Duxbury Police Department.
The Duxbury Police Department will apply the grant funds to the purchase and training of a new dog to replace K-9 Zar.. K-9 Zar worked patrol and assisted the SWAT team for nine years.
Memories of a best friend & partner:
Officer Cavicchi shares one particular day on the job for his K9 partner, Zar, as they searched for a missing Alzheimer’s patient at a nearby creek –
“The area had previously been searched by multiple officers. Zar started pulling me through thick brush and briars, we located her in the water alive, but nearly hypothermic. Although there are many more stories and accomplishments to choose from, one that comes to mind happened on a cold January night. We were tracking for a suspect involved in car breaks, when I noticed blood in the snow. First thinking the suspect must have cut himself, we continued on the track. It soon became apparent that the blood was not the suspects, but from my partner Zar. He had sliced an artery on his paw, but continued tracking. We stopped wrapped it up, and he was back on the track. Zar located the suspect as blood was pouring out of his paw. This is one example of the dedication and loyalty he had for his job.
After 9 years of tracking down missing children, patients, and dangerous criminals, Duxbury’s Canine Zar retired in 2013. He spent his last few years with his family relaxing and being a family dog. In May 2015, Zar was laid to rest after suffering some medical issues. It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make for my best friend and partner. I knew that this day would come and was completely unprepared for how hard it would be. I know in my heart it was the right thing to do, but it didn’t make it any easier. As I look back at what we accomplished together it brings tears to my eyes. Zar was always by my side from the time we went to bed until the time we woke up. We had a bond that couldn’t be explained in words. I know that someday we will be together again.
I will never forget my best friend, and he will always be in my heart.
It’s time to stay at rest until we meet again. He had my back all those years, and I know he is still with me. Rest in peace.”
On October 25, 2013, Ben received a Law Enforcement Award:
“To be the first one outside of law enforcement to win this award, it’s an awesome honor. The award means a lot to my foundation.” — Ben
From Teresa Varley, Steelers.com:
Ben Roethlisberger was honored on Friday afternoon at the 13th Annual Amen Corner Senator John Heinz Law Enforcement Awards Luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel at Station Square.
Roethlisberger became the first non-law enforcement individual to be honored by the Amen Corner, receiving the award for his contribution to K-9 units of police and fire departments in the Pittsburgh area and throughout the country through his foundation.
The luncheon annually honors a select group of police officers for their heroic actions, with 10 officers from the Western Pennsylvania area honored this year. Each of the law enforcement officers will receive a statuette, modeled after the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial near Heinz Field.
Congratulations on this honor, Ben! It is well deserved. Zeus is wagging his tail from Heaven!
*Thank you to Mr. Stokey, WTAE news anchor & sports director, for the photos!
On September 26, 2013, Ben shared sad news with his fans, who felt as if they had “known” Zeus from the beginning of Ben’s rookie season with the Pittsburgh Steelers:
Earlier this week we took my dog, Zeus, to the vet because one morning he didn’t seem like himself. When we got there, they didn’t see much wrong but wanted to run some tests. So, thinking it was nothing big we were going to leave and they were gonna call us when he was done. Luckily for us, we went and said goodbye to him and he was tail-wagging and looking as chipper as ever so we thought nothing of the goodbye.
Ashley, Benjamin Jr., and the boys, Hercules and Zeus welcoming Daddy home from training camp in 2013.
We got a call later that day saying he had a bunch of cancer in his intestines and the vet recommended not waking him up from surgery because it could be miserable for him, and there was no treatment for him. We had to make the painful decision to put him down. Taking comfort in the fact that he wasn’t in pain, and we got to see him happy at the end made it a little bit easier of a decision – but not much.
Zeus was with me for 9 years and was my first dog. He was my man and had been there through Super Bowls, tough losses, injuries, snow storms and the heat. He was the best and I feel blessed to have had him in my/our lives for so long. I know he’s in heaven waiting to play tag or just cuddle again soon.
Me and “my man”, Zeus. — Ben
Zeus, we will always miss you, never forget you, and always remember the funny, happy loving times you have given us, and yes even some of the bad times like when you were a pup and chewed my night stand, lol. You were even so patient with Benjamin when he pulled a handful of your hair right out and you didn’t even flinch.
Love you buddy! Don’t rest in peace bud, because I know you would rather be chasing chipmunks and squirrels! Gone but never forgotten, ZEUS ROETHLISBERGER!
More photos here.
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at work:
Meet K9 Mattis and his partner, DFC Jake Rideout!!
From the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland:
On March 28th, 2017, Sheriff Randy Bounds introduced the newest member of the Sheriff’s Office to the Caroline County Commissioners. Police MAN-TRACKER Bloodhound “Mattis” comes to the Sheriff’s Office from Kentucky and was trained and certified here on the Eastern Shore by J C Richardson of Delmarva K9.
The purchase of Mattis was made possible through a grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation which also provided funding for his training and gear for his handler. Additionally, the Caroline County Humane Society sponsored the Sheriff’s Office in support of the grant.
Mattis is only 9 months old and he is still growing into his beautiful and bountiful coat. His handler is Deputy First Class (DFC) Jake Rideout, who completed the certification course with Mattis. Both Mattis and DFC Rideout are now part of a regional Bloodhound Team made up of Bloodhound Units from the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office, Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, and the Maryland State Police.
Mattis and DFC Rideout will soon obtain their Federal Certification to be on the regional FBI Evidence Recovery Team. They will attend specialized training on an annual basis at the FBI Headquarters in Quantico Virginia.
DFC Rideout has been with the Sheriff’s Office since 2013 serving in the Patrol Division. Prior to his employment with the Sheriff’s Office he served in the United States Marine Corps and is a veteran of two tours in Afghanistan. DFC Rideout was selected as the handler for Mattis based in part on his strong work ethic, professionalism, and love of dogs.
Mattis has already proven he has what it takes to track down criminals that flee from the police. Mattis was certified on Friday, March 17th, and just two days later on Sunday, March 19th, he and DFC Rideout responded to the Templeville area in Queen Anne’s County to aid law enforcement in tracking down two individuals that fled from a vehicle into a wooded area. Mattis conducted two separate tracks that led police to both suspects.
In addition to searching for fleeing suspects, Mattis will also help locate those individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other diminished capacities. In addition, the Sheriff’s Office anticipates that Mattis will be used to find lost children, hunters and discarded evidence.
Sheriff Bounds commented, “We are very grateful to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for making it possible for us to purchase Mattis. There have been numerous instances in the past when we have needed a bloodhound and none were readily available. Minutes often matter when trying to locate a missing child, vulnerable adult, or in capturing a dangerous criminal. Hence, we are extremely pleased to welcome Mattis to our ranks at the Sheriff’s Office.”
For more information about what makes bloodhounds such a unique law enforcement tool, watch this video!
On September 24, 2016, Ben was an Opening Ceremony guest at the United States Police Canine Association National Patrol Dog Trials in Gloucester Township, NJ!
Honored to be an honorary member of the US Police Canine Association! — Ben.
@_BigBen7 welcomes K9 Officers today for the 2016 USPCA National Patrol Dog Trials in @GloTwpPolice #GTPD
So this just happened! Our K9 Team ran into @steelers @_BigBen7 Ben Roethlisberger at the K9 National Trials. Tks for supporting police k9s!
Mayor Mayer and GTPD welcomed Ben Roethlisberger at the opening ceremony of the K9 trials #GTPD
The event was hosted by the Gloucester Township, NJ Police Department (just eight miles east of Philadelphia), and ran from September 25th to the 30th.
On October 22nd 2015, Ben announced a grant to the Shawnee Police Department in Kansas.
On April 8th, 2016, we have photos of Shawnee’s rookie K9!
With this grant, the Shawnee Police Department was able to expand their unit from two to three K-9s which now gives them a dual purpose explosive team.
“The addition of a new canine to our unit will greatly expand the capabilities of these officers and the services they provide our citizens. We sincerely appreciate the generosity of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation in helping keep Shawnee a safe community. Being a native of Pittsburgh and a huge Steelers fan to this day, makes this grant award that much sweeter. The Shawnee Police Department continues to be grateful for the generosity of Big Ben!!” — Shawnee Chief of Police Rob Moser.
*Thank you so much to Chief Moser for sharing these great photos with us!
On December 31st, Ben announced a grant to the Aurora Police Department, who had recently re-established their K-9 unit with the addition of K-9 Nero and plans to use the funds to finish Nero’s training and outfit him with a bulletproof vest.
A proud Officer Riley wanted to show off his hard working and hard-training partner:
On January 4th, Chris Daley,a retired K9 officer and owner of Blue Mountain Canine Services, emailed us with an offer: to make & donate a collar for each dog that Ben’s foundation donates! Now these aren’t just regular dog collars we’re talking about – they are custom leather made specifically for working dogs with the K9’s name and an American flag laser-etched into the leather on the outside. The department’s name is etched on the inside. The Aurora Police Department was thrilled to receive the gift, and so was Nero.
“Officer Riley put it on Nero and he has not been on duty without the collar!” — Lt. Andy Lumpkins.
“Okay fine. I’ll stop just long enough for the photo! I sure hope my partner is at least getting my GOOD side in this shot! Sigh!” — Nero.
*Thank you so much to the Aurora Police Department for sharing these great photos, and a special “Thank You: to Chris Daley for your contribution to Ben’s foundation!!
You can check out Mr. Daley’s website here.
February 4, 2016 – A Bellevue police dog, Ozzy, gets a custom-fitted bulletproof vest courtesy of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.
From Lynn Thompson at the Seattle Times:
Last week, when two mail-theft suspects ditched a stolen car and ran from police, one of Bellevue’s newest officers was called to track them down.
In nine months on the job, K-9 officer Ozzy has apprehended 11 suspects.
The 95-pound German shepherd was at Bellevue City Hall on Thursday, showing off his new Kevlar, bullet-resistant vest, before an admiring crowd of city employees and media.
Ozzy was the only one of three Bellevue police dogs without a protective vest. Lt. Andrew Popochock, who supervises the K-9 unit for the Bellevue Police Department, said that the dogs often are sent into high-risk situations with suspects armed with knives or guns. They also train with Bellevue’s SWAT team.
“Just like we want protection for our officers, dogs need protection as well,” he said. Ozzy’s vest was constructed of the same materials as police protective vests and was custom-fit to the dog.
Straps and buckles keep the vest secure, but still allow for movement. Ozzy had to reach 2 years old before it could be certain he wouldn’t outgrow the vest.
Popochock said police dogs and their handlers receive more than 400 hours of training, learning obedience, bite work, tracking, locating evidence and how to tell which scent is fresh at a crime scene.
The $2,400 vest was purchased with a grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation and the Bellevue Police Foundation. Roethlisberger is well-known to Seahawks fans as the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers who dashed Seattle’s first Super Bowl bid in 2006.
Last November, a few days before the Seahawks-Steelers game, the foundation announced awards to the Bellevue and Renton K-9 units.
“Ben is a big dog fan,” Popochock said. ”He’s done a lot of good in communities around the country and a lot of good for police dogs.” As far as the Super Bowl loss in 2006, he said, “We’re over that.”
And the Bronze Medal goes to….
The 2015 World Police & Fire Games concluded at the end of June in Fairfax County, VA. But what are the World Police & Fire Games, you ask?
It’s 12,000 professional, public safety athletes from 70 countries competing in 60 plus sports to qualify for over 1,600 medal events!
In 1985, the World Police & Fire Games Federation, a non-profit organization, run by the Californian Police Athletics Federation, established the World Police & Fire Games. Today, the World Police & Fire Games are a spectacular international sporting event, offering police officers, firefighters, customs and correction officers from around the world an opportunity to showcase their athletic excellence in over 65 sporting events.
And how does this have anything to do with Big Ben?
Because some of those police officers are of the four-legged variety, and one in particular, named Cooper, has a direct link to #7…
From Baynet.com on July 8th, 2015:
Bronze Medal Winner – Thanks to Ben Roethlisberger Foundation
Cooper, a handsome two-year-old Belgian Malinois, and one of the newest members of the CCSO K9 Unit. Cooper made his first appearance in competition during the Police/Fire World Games and his debut was rather impressive; he earned a spot on the podium by winning a bronze medal for his work in narcotics detection in vehicles. And Cooper has an interesting background: He came to the Agency last fall after Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tossed a grant to the CCSO worth $6,800 as part of his longtime commitment to enhancing K9 units for police and fire departments throughout the country.
Cooper took over the job duties of Cpl. Cuyler’s longtime K9 partner, Atos, who recently retired due to age, medical conditions and longevity of service. Cooper spent the last several months in school and graduated from training last week. In fact, Cooper graduated with an A+ in narcotics detection which is equivalent to 100 percent in all five field trials. He is certified in narcotics detection and patrol canine services. “Cooper is a great dog! He’s been a great partner and I look forward to many years of excellent work from him,” said Cpl. Cuyler.
“I’m so impressed with our K9 Unit. Their handlers work hard day in and day out to maintain superior control of the dogs. Mr. Billy Cotton, Lead Trainer, has done an excellent job getting the teams to this point. Winning five medals at the World Games is something to be proud of and we are,” said Sheriff Troy Berry. “Our K9s are important to us and to the citizens we serve. They help track missing people, locate fugitives and provide extra safety for officers who must confront very dangerous situations.”
You can read more from Baynet here.
Congratulations to Cpl. Cuyler and Cooper!!! And congratulations to Cpl. Cuyler again & her other K9 partner, Coni (an explosives expert) for winning the Gold Medal, and to Sgt. Nasatka & his K9 partner Erno for winning the Silver Medal!!
*Thank you so much to Lt. Jamie Popik (a Steelers fan of course), of the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office for the info!
The 2017 World Police & Fire Games will be held in Toronto.
From May 12, 2015:
Ben’s foundation approved a grant to the Steubenville, Ohio police department in February of this year.
Today, they showed off their new K9 vehicle, purchased with funds from that grant:
Sara Yingling (WTRF Channel 7) @SYinglingWTRF
With the help of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation & the Hilltop Assoc., SPD has purchased a new K9 cruiser.
And K9 Pito continues to work hard for the Millersville Police Department. Here he is training with the Tennesse State Police:
“It’s been a great experience working with him.” – Officer Hurst, about his partner.
From March 3, 2015:
“Our K9s are important to us and to the citizens we serve. They help track missing people, locate subjects, narcotics and explosive devices as well as provide extra safety for officers who must confront very dangerous situations. Budgets have limitations. Thanks to organizations like the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation we will be able to advance our K9 unit and provide a greater level of service to the community we serve.” — Sheriff Farris, Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.
Last November, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office was selected to receive a grant from Ben’s foundation to purchase a new K9 dog, and provide training and equipment for the K9 unit.
Today, they wanted to introduce their new K9 dog to Steeler Nation!
“Bolt”, is a 19-month old Belgian Malinois from Little Rock K9, a police canine training facility in Arkansas. Bolt serves as a dual-purpose K9 working as a road patrol and drug enforcement dog with veteran handler, Deputy Richard Cobble.
“We selected Bolt from a number of promising dogs at the facility in Little Rock for his confidence, excellent skills, and sociability,” said Major Greg Whittaker, a former K9 Deputy who commands the K9 Unit at the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. “He is able to work independently and has tremendous concentration when faced with multiple challenges out in the field. He is a very impressive dog.”
Putnam County, similar to Nashville’s Davidson County, is a partner in the State of Tennessee Emergency Management Agency’s Middle Region. Through this collaborative partnership, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is committed to responding within the region with all special designated assets, such as K9 units, for large-scale events as well as officer and community safety.
In fact, just two days after joining the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, Bolt and Deputy Cobble assisted Jackson County narcotics investigators on a traffic stop that yielded one felony and two misdemeanor drug charges. The Jackson County detectives later wrote saying, “Thank you. We could not have done it without your assistance.”
From an email we received on September 11, 2014 –
My name is Ronald Farrell and I am a Lieutenant with the Charles County Sheriff’s Office in Charles County Maryland.
Our agency was just notified that we were approved for a grant from Big Ben’s Foundation for the purchase of a K-9 for our agency. This means so much – that we are able to put another resource out to ensure the safety of our officers and citizens in our county.
This was also somewhat personal for me since it is my birthday today, and it does get hard to celebrate on such a traumatic date, but this news brightens my day, and along with that, I have been a lifelong Steelers fan.
We are so grateful to Ben and his foundation for all the support for Law enforcement Agencies across the country.
Thanks again Ben!
*And thank you to Lieutenant Farrell, Assistant Commander, Patrol Operations for Charles County Sheriff’s Office!
Photo: That’s PFC Behm and his K9 partner, Ryker on the left, and Cpl. C. Clevenger and his K9 partner, Eno on the right. They apprehended three suspects in a shooting that occurred in Charles County, MD in May of 2014.
June 9, 2014: Washington’s new police dog begins patrols –
I’d like to introduce the City of Washington Police Department newest employee Patrolman Golem and his handler Officer Karlowsky — Mayor Brenda Davis via Twitter @Mayor_Davis
Thanks Washington & @_BigBen7 for contributions to reestablishing City of Washington K9 Police Unit — Mayor Brenda Davis via Twitter @Mayor_Davis
“The city has its first police dog since the department disbanded its K9 unit in 1997”
From Mike Jones, Washington Observer-Reporter:
Ever since he was young, Matthew Karlowsky wanted to be a police officer, his father said. Then, when he was hired as a Washington patrolman eight years ago, he set his sights on one day becoming a police dog’s handler.
His vision came to fruition Thursday night when the veteran officer and the city’s new police dog, Golem, were formally introduced during a swearing-in ceremony at City Hall.
Golem, a 10-month-old German shepherd, could barely control his excitement for the ceremony, barking at times and searching for his ball in the cargo pocket of Karlowsky’s pants.
The dog was born in the Czech Republic and trained with Karlowsky for six weeks at Shallow Creek Kennels in Mercer County. Karlowsky gives Golem commands in Czech as they continue to train to hone the dog’s drug-detection and patrol skills.
Karlowsky served in the U.S. Army during the Iraq war and it was during that 14-month deployment that he wanted to work with dogs after watching military K9 handlers, his father, Rick, said.
“This boy has always wanted to be a police officer, and ever since then, he wanted to be a K9 handler,” Rick Karlowsky said.
The community raised about $47,000 the past nine months to restart the department’s K9 unit, including a $10,000 grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. Mayor Brenda Davis said the community support and local business donations were instrumental in bringing back the unit, and city officials hope to expand it to two dogs by the end of the year.
“If it weren’t for the donations from the community, we wouldn’t be able to have this special swearing-in ceremony,” Davis said. “He’s ready to be a police officer.”
May 20, 2014 report: Baltimore K9 helps SWAT arrest mentally unstable suspect –
“Some debris on the floor and some chairs and things that were knocked over that he had to get through but what he did was — he tied the suspect up long enough for us to be able to get in and safely resolve it.” — Cpl. David Garner, Baltimore County SWAT, on the efforts of their K9, Raven during a tense standoff last week.
From Brian Kuebler’s report at ABC-2 News in Baltimore:
It has been exactly a week now since what police say was a mentally disturbed man rammed the WMAR-TV lobby with a truck creating a barricade situation and some tense moments.
The damage is still evident here at the station as we look to start rebuilding — but it’s not lost on us that the people we usually cover gave us the cover we needed that day, the women and men of law enforcement — and man’s best friend.
The images are still traumatic; the sounds are still jarring.
But as WMAR staff ran out of the building last week, Baltimore County police SWAT team members ran in.
A man was now in the station and no one knew where or what his intentions were.
That would quickly become obvious to Garner and the rest of the Baltimore County SWAT team as they made entry into the station. It was also quickly determined that Vladimir Baptiste was holed up in an upstairs edit suite.
Garner says they tried talking to Baptiste but he just kept ranting. That is when they decided to go in but they weren’t sure whether the suspect was armed.
For that job — Garner needed his partner — a German Shepherd named Raven.
“At that point we know we needed the dog and wanted the dog inside as one of our assets so I left the building and went and got him,” Garner said.
With so much glass strewn throughout the lobby — Garner had to pick up the trained k-9 and carry him to the steps.
He would be used upstairs to help contain Baptiste once the SWAT team made entry.
Baptiste was arrested without further incident and was charged with attempted murder.
No one was hurt in part because of the expert defensive tactics of this Baltimore County K9.
But we need to give an offensive assist to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This German Shepherd was bought five years ago in part with a donation from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.
Yes, Big Ben donates to K9 units of police departments around the country. Baltimore County’s police department was very much appreciative, but still competitive.
That’s why officers chose to name the dog Raven.
You can watch the incredible video footage as the event unfolded here.
*Thank you to Mr. Kuebler and ABC-2!
April 19, 2014 update on the Fort Lee (NJ) Police Department grant –
“My department received a grant from your foundation during the last NFL season to purchase a new K9 for our department. I was chosen to be assigned to the K-9 unit and be the dog’s handler. Let me start off by saying that I am extremely grateful and can not describe in words how thankful I am that our department was chosen for this grant.
K9 ‘Ajax’ and I will be completing our first training school (Narcotics Scent Detection) in approximately two weeks. Then in September we will be starting “Patrol School” together. K9 has always been a goal and a dream of mine and because of your foundation I was able to achieve it. Once again, thank you very much for your generosity and for choosing our department.” – Officer John G. Reuter, Fort Lee (NJ) Police Department, in an email to the website on March 27, 2014.
Members of the Fort Lee Police Department and Borough Council don Steelers caps in honor of K9 Ajax’s graduation from his first training school during the second week of April.
On April 3rd, 2014, we had quite an update on Ben’s home page from several agencies that were awarded grants during the 2013-2014 season. We are pleased to share them here:
“Officer Fritsch is heading to Indiana with Santo this weekend for the start of K9 training! We are very excited to have another K9 to help us in our efforts to combat the influx of drugs in our community. In addition, we are extremely grateful for the grant opportunity through the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. Budgets are so tight and the funding from BRF aids in accomplishing our mission.” — Captain Ben Bliven, Wausau Police Department, to us on March 28, 2014.
From WSAU News in Wisconsin:
Wausau Police officers have a new K-9 helper. Captain Ben Bliven says the new four-legged officer was brought to Wausau last weekend for his initial orientation. “Santo is our newest addition to the police department. He is a two-and-a-half year old German Shepherd, and his partner will be Shawn Fritsch, who is our newest canine handler.”
Santo and officer Shawn Fritsch will be leaving this weekend for Denver, Indiana to train for six weeks before going on patrol together.
It costs police departments anywhere from ten to thirteen thousand dollars to acquire new K-9’s. Bliven says Santo was purchased with a grant they received from a professional football player’s foundation that focuses on police dogs. “We were able to purchase Santo with the funding that we received from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation grant that we received back in December.”
You can read more here.
“Welcome SANTO to our department. Ofc Shawn Fritsch picked him up from Denver, Indiana, Von Liche Kennels on Sunday. Thanks to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for the funding to help improve our community.” — Posted by the Wausau (MI) Police Department on their official Facebook page, March 26, 2014.
Thank you Officer Reuter and the Fort Lee Police Deparment!
Remember Rocco, but welcome Beny!
From Margaret Harding, at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Life without Pittsburgh police K9 Rocco has been hard, his former handler said Tuesday.
“It’s been a long three months, but I’m better,” Officer Phil Lerza said. “I just want to thank everybody for the support.”
Lerza said he has begun training with Beny, a 13-month-old mix between a German shepherd and Belgian Malinois that the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation bought for him.
“We just started, but it looks good so far,” Lerza said.
Lerza attended a check presentation ceremony Tuesday at the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union in Elliott. The Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1 and the credit union received more than $23,000 in donations that came in after Rocco, an 8-year-old German shepherd, died of injuries from a stabbing attack in January.
“It’s amazing, actually,” Lerza said of the donations.
The money will go into a Pittsburgh Foundation fund to benefit the city police K9 unit.
You can read more here.
From Kayla Van Dyne, at the Times Leader:
MARTINS FERRY – The city’s police department recently received three grants that will go toward the betterment of the department and the service it provides to the city.
A check was presented to Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland at a press conference that was held Wednesday.
The largest grant was $9,500 from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation through the Giving Back Fund. The money from this grant will go toward general expenses and veterinarian care of Martins Ferry K-9, Ecko.
“I want to extend a huge thank you to the Jefferson County Humane Society and the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for this grant. This money will go toward insurance for Ecko, which is an important thing in case something would happen to him,” said K-9 unit handler Chad Kuhn. “This was a blessing, and I did not expect it. We were doing OK without it, but now we are going to do even better.”
Ecko is a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois and is a dual purpose K-9, which means he is trained in narcotics, suspect apprehension and tracking.
You can read more here.
And in putting the brakes on this post, we leave you with this:
On February 13, 2014, the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation awarded a grant to the Edinboro Borough (PA) Police Department…
and on March 27, 2014, a local Edinboro business spotted the foundation’s logo on a bumper sticker proudly displayed on an Edinboro police cruiser.
More from 2013:
September 14th, 2013 – We have an update on K9 Logen from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland!
Remember Logen? He was featured on the website last September, after the Sheriff’s Office sent an email to Ben thanking him for the grant they received to purchase four “K-9 Storm” bullet proof vests, one of which would be used for their new puppy K-9, Logen.
Brothers in Paws: Leo and Logen share a “tough guys” moment after a long day of training last year.
And one again, they wanted to share Logen’s progress with Ben’s fans!
“Recently, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit Supervisor Sgt. Joe Stanton and his partner, K9 Logen, along with Montgomery County Police K9 Sergeant Ari Elkin and his Partner K9 Leo, successfully completed K9 detector training. During this training, Logen learned to detect over 20 different combinations of explosive odors and Leo was trained to detect illegal drugs. Upon completion of this training, Logen and Leo officially became part of their respective agency’s K9 unit! Your followers will recognize some of the earlier photos of Logen as he was when he started his training with Sgt. Stanton at just 8 weeks old. He certainly has grown since those early photos. But what most of you don’t know is that Logen and Leo are blood brothers! Born in April of 2012, these two canines are now part of the Montgomery County Law Enforcement Community.
Partners in Crime Fighting: Sgt. Joe Stanton and K-9 Logen ready for their next training assignment.
“Logen and another K9, Harley, are set to begin 16 weeks of K9 Patrol training beginning this month. K9 Harley, a 1-year-old German Shepherd was recently imported from Europe and selected to be Deputy Austin’s first K9 partner.
During these 16 weeks of K9 Patrol School, the K9 teams will be trained in the areas of Obedience, Agility, Tracking, Evidence Search, Suspect Search, and Criminal Apprehension.”
Congratulations to Sgt. Stanton and Sgt. Elkin. Lets all welcome Logen, and Leo into the Sheriff’s Office and the Police Department!
And thank you to Montgomery County Sheriff Darren Popkin, Sgt. Stanton, and especially Deputy Sheriff James Johnson for keeping us up-to-date on Logen’s progress into the world of law enforcement.
May 8, 2013 – Two new police dogs on the job in South Euclid!
From Jeff Piorkowski, Sun News (Northeast Ohio):
The South Euclid Police Department has added two new K-9 officers-in-training, Kolbe, left, and Oktane.
With the addition of the dogs, SEPD Chief Kevin Nietert’s wish to have a dog on all three shifts is being fulfilled. One of the new dogs replaces the recently retired Rex. Another dog, 6-year-old, Recon remains on the force.
Kolbe is 13 months old, while Oktane is still a puppy at 11 months.
Kolbe was obtained with grant money from Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whose foundation purchases dogs for police departments in cities (and surrounding suburbs) which the Steelers visit during their season.
“This Thanksgiving, the men and women of the South Euclid Police Department have something very special to be thankful for. The grant from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation will allow the K-9 unit to continue the important work we do.” – South Euclid Police K-9 Officer Michael Fink (posing with Kolbe at left) in November, 2012 when the grant was announced.
Nietert said both dogs — Kolbe is a Belgian Malinois, and Oktane, a German shepherd — were born in Czechoslovakia. “The dogs act as a force multiplier and are great for public relations,” Nietert said.
On October 11th, The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation announced it’s grant to the Millersville Police Department just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.
The Millersville Police Department utilized the grant funds to start its K-9 Unit by purchasing its first narcotics dog. Nashville K-9, LLC trained the dog and his handler free of charge. The Tennessee Highway Patrol also donated equipment to properly outfit Millersville PD’s first K-9 vehicle.
“With the generous donation that Ben gave to the Millersville Police Dept, we were able to purchase them a green dog for narcotics,” said K-9 Instructor Ali Hemyari. “We then worked with him and the handler, training both to a proficient level and had both of them certified as a police dog/handler team.
“Nashville K-9 is proud of Officer George Hurst and Pito in their commitment to their city, and is thankful for the opportunity to be able to work with The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.”
Thank you to Mr. Hemyari and Nashville K-9, LLC!
It didn’t take long for Pito to become Millersville Police Department’s Top Dog! On February 21, 2013, we received this email:
“I would just like to keep everyone informed about Pito. Pito is the K9 dog that was given to us by The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. Since Pito has been on the street, he has made nine ‘small’ hits on drugs and one very large one on Tuesday night. Pito has only been on the streets for about two months since training. As the Chief of Police, I can’t thank The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation enough for all they have done for us. Please thank Mr. Roethlisberger for us, and for helping those who help others.” – Chief Ronnie Williams, Millersville, TN Police Department.
That one “very large” hit that Chief Williams referenced in his email was the subject of a story from the WKRN-Channel 2 News in Nashville this evening:
The K9 donated by football star Ben Roethlisberger’s foundation last year is now trained and on the streets, helping the Millersville Police Department sniff out crime.
Pito, the 2-year-old German Shepherd, helped officer George Hurst with what seemed like a normal traffic stop on Interstate 65 Tuesday night.
Hurst pulled over a rental car that had no rear lights and discovered the driver had no license.
Pito sniffed around the car and alerted on something at the driver’s door.
The driver then admitted to having marijuana in possession.
When Hurst led Pito around the rest of the car, he alerted once again at the trunk.
Officer Hurst then discovered $30,500 in cash hidden under a tire.
“It’s been a great experience working with him.” — Officer Hurst, about his new partner.
Police believe the cash was a part of a drug deal that was either about to go down or had just been completed, but the driver and passenger of the rental vehicle said they did not know where it came from.
Since it was not claimed, the cash was confiscated and will now go into the Millersville drug fund to help buy new equipment.
Authorities also said that the male in the passenger seat has a lengthy drug record and was recently released from the penitentiary.
You can read more here.
Thank you so much to Chief Williams!
From the Findlay (OH) Courier on November 9th, 2012 via Officer Chad McMonigal, Findlay Police Department, and The Giving Back Fund:
The Findlay Police Department’s latest tool for sniffing out drugs, Shadow, doubles as another way for officers to connect with city residents.
Paid for entirely by a grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, Shadow recently joined the department as its drug-detecting canine. Shadow and his handler, Officer Chad McMonigal, inspect vehicles for illegal drugs, and meet citizens in an effort to prevent crime.
Shadow, a 15-month-old male service dog from the country of Holland, replaces Spike, who retired from the department on Sept. 1. McMonigal and Shadow trained together in Fremont for six weeks in September and October.
He’s a friendly animal who enjoys attention, McMonigal said.
“Every dog there had different drives, characteristic traits,” McMonigal said.
McMonigal described Shadow as the “perfect tool” for both drug work and bridging the divide with those who feel reluctant to meet police.
“They see he’s so welcoming and it changes their attitude right away,” he said.
You can read more about Shadow here.
A year ago on September 7th, 2011, the first grant of the NFL season was awarded to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, in Rockville, Maryland.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office used the grant to purchase four “K9 Storm” bullet proof vests, to help protect the department’s four highly specialized canine teams.
All members of the Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit are trained as dual purpose K9s for the detection of explosives as well as patrol functions. The grant added another level of safety for the canines while they handle their duties both in and around the Montgomery County area, protecting the lives and property of the citizens of Maryland and surrounding states.
Sheriff Darren M. Popkin said at the time that “the grant funds will provide our dogs with vests that protect them from attacks with firearms and knifes while engaged in their duties.”
A year later, the Sheriff’s Office sent an email to thank Ben once again for the grant –
“The Montgomery County (MD) Sheriffs Office wanted to again thank Ben Roethlisberger and bigben7.com for the support you have shown our office in the past. Last year we were able to purchase ballistic vests for all of our K9s because of your support.” — Deputy Sheriff James Johnson, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
The department also sent photos and a story about “Logen”, their K9-to-be (he’s got a little growin’ up to do first!)!
Little Logen, a pure bred German Shepherd Pup, was born on April 23, 2012. His father “Leon” is a working Police dog in Maryland ,and his mother “Echo” has bred other puppies that have become successful Police and Search and Rescue dogs.
Once he is trained, Logen will be wearing a “K9 Storm” bullet proof vest and will be able to track humans and locate evidence….but first he has to get big enough to jump into the back of a police vehicle unassisted!
You can read about Logen here!
*Thank you to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Sheriff James Johnson!
Making Wishes Come True –
From Teresa Varley, at Steelers.com on September 15, 2017:
The smile on Jerardo Lopez’ face might be there for a long, long time. It’s not ever going away,” said Lopez, the smile growing bigger by the second.
It’s easy to understand why. Lopez, a 17-year old from Oxnard, California, had his dream come true on Friday, thanks to the Steelers and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Lopez, who has battled leukemia, was at Steelers practice at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Friday and will attend Sunday’s game at Heinz Field. For him, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.
“I really like the Steelers,” said Lopez. “I have been a big fan since I saw Troy Polamalu play. When I got diagnosed, my dream was to come and meet the Steelers.
“It’s been everything I hoped for. Everyone has been so nice to me.”
And from what Lopez said, it was even more than he hoped for. After practice the players surrounded Lopez on the field, signing his jersey and football, and posing for pictures. And then he went inside the facility, where he had the chance to talk with some of his favorites, including Ben Roethlisberger, Bud Dupree and Antonio Brown.
“It was amazing when I got to see them, and having a conversation with them was even better,” said Lopez. “I am really grateful for that. They were asking me questions and greeting me. I thought they would just pass by me and say hi, but they all stopped, took pictures, and had a conversation with me. It was amazing.”
And with that, the smile continued.
You can see more photos from Jerardo’s day here.
From Teresa Varley at Steelers.comon September 30, 2016:
Tyler Fry is normally talkative, always sharing stories and chatting about just about everything.
But on Friday he was tongue-tied and in wide-eyed amazement as he met one Steelers’ player after another.
Fry, an 18-year old with an ear-to-ear smile, was at Steelers practice and will attend Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs as a guest of the Steelers and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“They are my favorite team,” said Fry, who is from Fredericksburg, Virginia and battles Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. “It was my dream. I am really happy about this. I always wanted to meet the Steelers. This is more than I imagined. Seeing the players has been really cool.”
Fry had his picture taken and got autographs from the players, got gloves from DeAngelo Williams, and with all due respect to everyone else, the moment of all moments came when he met his favorite player, Ben Roethlisberger. Fry painted a picture of Roethlisberger, which the quarterback was blown away by, and had him sign it so he could put it on his wall in his Steelers’ decorated bedroom.
“I get choked up thinking about it,” said his mother, Nicky Fry. “He loves the Steelers. He gets into it every weekend with his dad. His room is completely Steelers. It’s a memory and that is what life is about for Tyler, us hoping to make memories for him. This is so incredibly special. I am so thankful. He is smiling from ear to ear. When he smiles, his whole face lights up. He is never going to stop talking about this.”
You can see some wonderful photos from Tyler’s day with the team here.
From Teresa Varley at Steelers.comon December 18, 2015:
Magic. That truly is the only way to describe what happened after Steelers practice on Friday. Pure magic.
Moments after the team headed into the locker room, Ben Roethlisberger made his way over to Mary Evansic, a 10-year old from Tehachapi, California, who was at practice as a guest of the team through Make-A-Wish.
Evansic’s wish was to catch a pass from Roethlisberger, something that is normally reserved for Antonio Brown, Marcus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant, Heath Miller and company.
Roethlisberger grabbed one of the footballs from practice, and along with Brown, played catch with Evansic. It was a moment that would melt anyone’s heart.
“She has been a fan of Ben’s for as long as she has been able to talk,” said her father, Leonard Evansic. “This summer she had a surgery that had her in the hospital for six weeks. What really kept her going was telling everybody she was going to meet Ben and the Steelers. That was a really big thing for her. It pulled her through it.”
Evansic, who has cerebral palsy, lit up from the moment she met Roethlisberger and all of his Steelers’ teammates and the smile will likely last for a long time, including Sunday when she is the guest of the team at Heinz Field for the game against the Broncos.
“This was really special,” said her father. “It’s really hard to describe. It’s been a phenomenal experience so far. We can’t wait to have her at the game on Sunday. She was born to cheer for the Steelers.”
Thank you once again to Ms. Varley for sharing her video (below) with us and the many beautiful photos from Mary’s day here.
October 24, 2014: The Steelers made a wish come true for a special fan from Texas – James Davila
“It’s so much fun! To be able to have someone where you can see the joy and their face light up is special. To give him that surprise and hand him my cleats was really fun.” — Ben.
From Teresa Varley, Steelers.com today:
As a wide-eyed James Davila watched Ben Roethlisberger emerge from the Steelers locker room area his smile was wider than the entire state of Texas, a place the 15-year old calls home.
Davila stared silently as Roethlisberger jokingly walked past him and spoke with his younger brother, then his sister and parents, and then, in a playful way Roethlisberger walked over to the Make-A-Wish recipient and asked him, and who are you.
Davila couldn’t stop smiling, couldn’t even speak he was so overcome with excitement. He let out an excited laugh, but that was about all the tongue-tied teen could muster. And how could you blame him, his wish was coming true.
And it got even better when Roethlisberger handed him the cleats he wore in Monday night’s win over the Houston Texans at Heinz Field and then autographed them for him.
Davila, who recently completed treatment for sarcoma of the liver that required a transplant, had been waiting a year for this wish to come true – to meet Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu, as well as the rest of the Steelers. And through the relationship between the Steelers and the Make-A-Wish of Western Pennsylvania, it was worth the wait.
“When I first started liking the team I was a lot younger and liked the black and gold,” said Davila. “Then I watched them a lot on television, seeing how they played and I really liked the way they played. I really like Ben and Troy.”
Davila and his family attended practice on Friday, meeting Polamalu, Coach Mike Tomlin and Art Rooney II, as well as the rest of the players, and will be at Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field.
“This has been so exciting. I used to play football, and I like watching it. I can’t play football anymore, so seeing professional football players, what I wanted to do some day, is really exciting. Seeing them in person and not on the screen … wow.”
November 15, 2013: A Make-A-Wish day to remember – Jessica Converse
“When Ben came over and met her, it was the most awesome thing I ever saw.”— Michelle Converse
From Teresa Varley, Steelers.com:
When Steelers practice ended and Ben Roethlisberger walked over to 15-year old Jessica Converse, you could just feel the excitement.
Because for Converse, the wish she made almost a year ago, was coming true. And her smile was as bright as can be.
Converse is visually and hearing impaired, considered legally blind and deaf, and also suffers from an enlarged heart, high blood pressure and is diabetic.
She was the Steelers guest at practice through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, meeting Roethlisberger and his teammates.
“I am just so glad she was able to get her wish with all of the different problems she has,” said her mother, Michelle Converse. “She has been waiting for this and it was so overwhelming and exciting for all of us. When Ben came over and met her, it was the most awesome thing I ever saw. I got overwhelmed when they all came up around her.”
November 6, 2013: An 8-year old Make-A-Wish Hero
From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
A South Allegheny Elementary third-grader was recognized by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Make-A-Wish Foundation for his charitable efforts.
Tony Cook, 8, of Liberty served as the foundation’s special ambassador for a presentation on Friday and watched the Black-and-Gold practice.
Tony has been instrumental in raising about $44,000 for Make-A-Wish, which includes a $30,000 contribution from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.
He shared his experience with classmates on Monday morning.
“It was really cool,” Tony said of his visit with the Steelers. “They made it sound like they were at a real game.”
He showed the class an autographed football, picture and jersey worn by Roethlisberger during the game against the Oakland Raiders. He also received a Terrible Towel signed by other players, watched practice at the Steelers’ South Side facility and checked out Roethlisberger’s locker.
“It’s like a really big locker room,” Tony said. “I found he had the left top corner (locker).”
Roethlisberger on Friday presented a $30,000 check from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation to Make-A-Wish president and CEO Judith Stone.
Tony handed over his savings to Make-A-Wish last year, making a Christmas donation of $185.35. He raised $264.50 this February through a bake sale during parent-teacher conferences at the elementary school, and continues to raise funds through other bake sales and a golf outing organized by his uncle, David Hoffmann, and DB Root & Co.
“He’s a very nice guy,” Tony said of Roethlisberger.
November 1, 2013: Ben donates to Make-A-Wish
“When someone has a wish and that’s what’s so great about Make-A-Wish, they grant pretty much everything other than going to the moon. But you can do pretty much anything you want. To come hang out with us, and just to see the fun and to see guys like Anthony get the picture with everybody and go in our locker room and just to hang out. I know we were talking about how his friends are going to be jealous and his brothers and everything like that. To me, that’s what it’s all about. It is so special.” — Ben
From Teresa Varley at Steelers.com:
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger loves when he has the opportunity to put a smile on the face of a child who visits the team through the Make-A-Wish® foundation. The reaction he always gets from the kids is one of pure joy, making the day of a young fan that definitely can use a boost.
On Friday he did even more to help, presenting a check to Make-A-Wish® Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia for $30,000, a donation from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. Roethlisberger made a similar donation last year and said hearing from the kids who had their wishes granted as a result made it extra special.
“I got a packet and an envelope with a bunch of letters in it from Make-A-Wish kids whose wishes got granted,” said Roethlisberger. “I could just see the smile on their faces as I was reading the letters. It means so much to me and my family and the foundation to be able to help out Make-A-Wish.”
Roethlisberger presented the check to Judith Stone, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish® and eight-year old Anthony Cook. Cook, a huge Roethlisberger fan who had his wish of going to Disney World granted and in turn has given back by donating the money he received from the tooth fairy and getting a good report card to help other kids.
The wide-eyed Cook was in awe meeting Roethlisberger and some of his teammates, watching practice and then heading into the locker room.
“It felt really good to meet Ben,” said Cook, “I was really excited. We went in the locker room and he made me find his locker.”
Roethlisberger also gave Cook the torn jersey he wore against the Raiders, giving the young boy something he will always treasure, as Roethlisberger himself treasures meeting the kids whose wishes he helps grant at the team’s practice facility throughout the season.
The money that Roethlisberger donated will help to fund seven wishes, allowing the smiles to continue for a while.
April 14, 2013: A Make-A-Wish day to remember – Brandon Brawdy
“Brandon’s Make-A-Wish was to meet Big Ben and the Steelers. That day was the best day since Brandon was diagnosed with cancer.” — Brett Brawdy, father of Brandon.
The Brawdy family reached out to us this week to share their son, Brandon’s experience in meeting Big Ben, Brett Keisel and all of their teammates in August, 2012:
“The day Brandon got to meet the Steelers, Ben yelled out ‘Make-A-Wish’ and was the first one to run right up to Brandon on the field as soon as the horn sounded that practice was over”, said Mr. Brawdy. “Then it was on…the whole team surrounded him like he was a rock star to sign his football! They stayed out there until he got to meet all of the players that were there.”
It was exactly what 15-year old Brandon, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer a year and a half ago, had wished for ever since his parents contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“The smile and awe that was on my nephew’s face that day, captured in photos that we will forever cherish”, said his aunt, Janice Brawdy. “He lit up when he was around them. I love looking at all the photos! It was such an amazing, wonderful day for him. Thank you Big Ben and all the Steelers family for making Bran’s day one of the best days ever!”
One of the best moments of the day for Brandon was meeting his favorite player, Brett Keisel. He also posed for photos with Ben, Brett, Antonio Brown, Coach Tomlin, and smiled in several group shots with the Steelers defense!
More from Brandon’s father:
“The story behind the picture I sent of Ben reaching out to shake my wife’s hand with the huge grin on Bran’s face is one I will always remember.
After Ben yelled out ‘Make-A-Wish’, he ran towards Bran and about five feet before he got to him, he turned towards my wife and acted like the wish was for her. Everyone that was with us cracked up laughing – it immediately put everyone at ease!
Ben also knew that Brett Keisel was one of Bran’s favorite players, so Ben was introducing himself to our family as Brett!
We just couldn’t believe how much time Ben and the Steelers spent making sure Bran had a great time.
Last night (April 10, 2013) we jumped up with over 600 likes on Brandon’s Facebook page thanks to the work of Ben, Erin, and Steeler Nation! I asked for a little help, and they got me a huge response! This is why I have been a Steeler fan for over 40 years!
On October 27, 2012:
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation donated $25,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation! That money will allow Make-A-Wish to grant wishes to six children!
Ben presented the check to Judith Stone (pictured), President and CEO of Make-A-Wish during an impromptu press conference this afternoon after practice.
The money was raised during The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation Invitational Golf Tournament in July.
For the past several years, Ben has devoted his time to the Make-A-Wish Foundation because of his passion to help children.
“It’s no secret how much the kids mean to me. When someone has a wish and they want to spend it with the Steelers that touches you and is special. For us to be able to do this and be able to have six kid’s wishes come true is awesome. Being there to meet them, shake their hand, sign an autograph means a lot to me.” — Ben.
One of the most memorable of these Make-A-Wish moments was when he met 14-year old Akeem Havens, who signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers in May of 2008 to become one of Ben’s go-to wide receivers for the day!
You can watch video of Ben’s press conference here.
You can watch the video from Akeem’s day with Big Ben and the Steelers here.
You can read about more of Ben’s Make-A-Wish moments here.
On December 12, 2012:
From an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Two German shepherds bound to the door when Patrolman Justin Scalzo puts on his police uniform.
But only one can join him for work in Jeannette.
“It‘s a hard transition for him right now,” Scalzo said of retiring K-9 officer Wando, a 9-year-old dog who worked the city streets for seven years.
Wando will officially retire at Wednesday‘s Jeannette council meeting. Two-year-old Falco will be sworn in as Wando‘s replacement. Both dogs live with Scalzo and his family.
With a grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund, Falco was purchased for $6,500 in May 2012. On Nov. 21, Falco graduated from training and has been on the force since.
Wando and Falco work as dual-purpose police dogs, meaning they are certified in narcotics detection and patrolling, which can include obedience, tracking and searches. They can quell an aggressive situation and make a scene safer for their human counterparts.
“I wanted a dog that met the standard of the one that I had before,” Scalzo said. “This dog surpassed those expectations, I think this dog is going to keep getting better.”
You can read more about Falco here.
On November 13th, Ben announced the eighth and ninth grants of the 2014-15 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
The Foundation distributing grants to the Oneida Police Department and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department outside of Nashville where the Steelers will play the Titans on November 17th on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office will purchase a dual purpose dog and two safety vests for its K-9s, while the Oneida Police Department plans to fill the void left in their unit with the passing of their only dog this past May.
Putnam County Sheriff Eddie Farris said, “As Sheriff of Putnam County, Tennessee, I am proud and honored to lead the agency that has been chosen as a recipient of a Ben Roethlisberger Foundation K-9 grant. The citizens of Putnam County rely on our agency to provide a safe community. To achieve this, it is vital for us to have quality trained personnel and resources. The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation grant will enable our agency to retire one of our older K-9s and purchase a new narcotics/patrol dog as well as pay for the necessary training and certification for our handlers and equip our patrol dogs with safety vests.”
K-9 Officer Steven Ward of the Oneida Police Department said, “In May of this year, the Oneida Police Department’s narcotic dog, Jinks, suddenly passed away while on duty. Our department is small and we have a very limited budget. Due to the high cost, we were concerned that we may be unable to purchase a new narcotics detection dog. But thanks to the kindness and generosity of The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, our K-9 program will continue to play an important role in our schools and community.”
On November 6th, Ben announced the fourth and fifth grant of the 2014-15 season from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
The Foundation will be distributing grants to the Cleveland Metroparks Ranger Department and the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Police Department within proximity of where the Steelers will play the Browns on Sunday, October 12th.
“This grant will significantly contribute to our efforts to provide good law enforcement services to our residents, partners and stakeholders throughout Cuyahoga County.” — Jeffery K. Patterson, CMHA CEO and Safety Director.
The Cleveland Metroparks Rangers plan to use their grant toward safety equipment for their K-9 unit, while the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) will apply the grant funds to the purchase and training of a new dog.
Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Chief of Police Andrés González said, “We are thrilled to receive this grant. It will enhance our operations and improve our delivery of services.”
Photo: That’s Officer Smiddy and his furry partner, Chewbacca & Officer Holdeman with his equally furry partner, Loki, from an earlier grant in 2011. The puppies were donated by a breeder, and funds from the grant provided by Ben’s Foundation that season paid for their training and supplies.
On October 2nd, Ben announced the third grant of the 2014-15 season from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund. The Foundation distributed a grant to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office where the Steelers played the Jaguars on October 5th.
“We are very appreciative of The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation’s approval of our grant request for a police service dog. The timing is excellent, as we are about to retire a PSD who has reached the end of his service life. Thank you for your appreciation of these valued canines, as they are a tremendous asset to law enforcement and first responder organizations nationwide.” — Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will apply the grant funds to the purchase of a new dog they plan to have certified in patrol and bomb detection.
Also on this day:
A BIG Shout out is in order…
to the Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club of Austin, Texas for their donation to The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation!
“I am the organizer for the Pittsburgh Steelers fan club here in Austin, Texas. I am from Butler (north of Pittsburgh) and we have been running this fan club for seven years here in Austin. We have over 350 members in our fan club and get together to watch the games in our black and gold every week.
For the opening game, since it was Chuck Noll Day in Pittsburgh, we raffled off an autographed Chuck Noll photo and donated the proceeds to Ben’s foundation ($155). Everyone was super excited to do this and support the work of Ben’s foundation.
Just wanted to let you know that even down in Texas, we support the Steelers and Big Ben!!” — Jackie Huba, fan club organizer.
Thank you so much to Jackie and the Steelers Fan Club of Austin, Texas!!
On September 10th, 2014, Ben announced the first grant of the 2014-15 season from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
The Foundation will be distributing a grant to the Charles County Sheriff’s Office, southwest of Baltimore, MD where the Steelers will play the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, September 11th.
“We appreciate The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for their generous grant. The foundation supports a great cause and tremendously helps many agencies all around the United States. Our K9s are important to us and to the citizens we serve. They help track missing people, locate fugitives and provide extra safety for officers who must confront very dangerous situations. We wouldn’t be able to do this without this grant funding.” — Sheriff Rex Coffey, Charles County Sheriff’s Office.
The Charles County Sheriff’s Office will apply the grant funds to the purchase and training of a new dog to replace recently retired K-9 Atos, who served with the department for over eight years.
On February 13th, 2014, Ben announced the final grants of the 2013-14 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund. The Foundation will be distributing nine grants totaling $77,000 to police departments in the Pittsburgh, PA area where the Steelers play their home games.
“I would like to extend my extreme gratitude to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for its generosity and support. The foundation’s assistance will provide an integral role in the development of our newly started canine program. The North Fayette Township Police Department canine program relies greatly on contributions like this in order to maintain the high standards required to make the program successful. We are confident that our canine program will serve our community well.” — Mark O’Donnell, Chief of Police, North Fayette Township.
The K-9 departments receiving funding from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation this year are City of Washington Police, Edinboro Borough Police, Eureka Fire Rescue EMS, Forest Hills Police, Jefferson County Drug Task Force, Martins Ferry Police, New Sewickley Township Police, North Fayette Township Police and the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. Funds will be used to start new K-9 units as well as maintain existing ones who will purchase additional K-9s, K-9 safety vests, training equipment, food and other necessary expenses such as vet bills and K-9 specific patrol vehicles.
“It will be a big help for our department. It’s not cheap to start a canine program.” — Ron Leindecker, Chief of Police, New Sewickley.
This announcement completes the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation’s seventh grant cycle, during which it distributed $157,600 in grants to K-9 units around the country. In addition to the Pittsburgh grants announced, the Foundation distributed grants to police and fire departments in the cities and surrounding communities of each regular season away game for the Steelers in the 2013-14 season. Ben’s foundation invited police and fire departments in the eight cities to submit proposals detailing their needs.
“On behalf of the Jefferson County Drug Task Force, I would like to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for selecting our department as a grant recipient. We are very grateful and honored to be chosen as one of the departments able to benefit from such a great foundation. The support given by the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation is critical to maintaining our K-9 to proudly serve the citizens of Jefferson County at no cost to the taxpayers.” — Chris Vinci, Drug Task Force K-9 Officer, Jefferson County.
Earlier this week, Ben announced a grant to the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to help fill the void left by beloved K-9 Rocco’s recent passing from injuries sustained in the line of duty.
Since 2007, the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has made 135 grants totaling more than $1.2 million to 129 police and fire departments and five community youth organizations, including Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Make A Wish Foundation. These 129 canine grants have funded the purchase of more than 67 dogs, the training of more than 29 dogs and 50 handlers, safety equipment, such as vests, for more than of 54 dogs and training equipment for more than 33 dogs as well as food, vet services and housing for many more.
On February 11th, 2014, Ben announced a special grant to the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in honor of K-9 Rocco who was stabbed and killed in the lined of duty in late January.
“The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation started when a police K-9 was shot and killed where I grew up, in Findlay, OH. My family and I were moved by what that dog meant to the police force, and learned that similar K-9′s all over the country are helping to keep our communities safe. This last week, a K-9 officer named Rocco was killed in my current hometown of Pittsburgh. After talking with officer Phil Lerza and getting his blessing, the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation would like to announce that we are going to get Officer Lerza a new dog. Rocco can never be replaced, but we only hope to help with the healing process and to provide Officer Lerza with another loyal partner.” — Ben
Regina McDonald, Acting Chief of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, said, “We appreciate Ben Roethlisberger’s generosity and support. The Bureau will be looking, in the near future, to schedule a K-9 training class, evaluate potential K-9 handlers and purchase dogs. Officer Phil Lerza will be given first consideration for a new dog. His dog will be the one donated by the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.”
On December 19th, Ben announced a grant to the Wausau Police Department, approximately 90 minutes east of Green Bay where the Steelers played the Packers on Sunday, December 22nd.
The Wausau Police Department will use the grant to purchase and train a new K-9 for their unit.
Wausau Police Chief Jeff Hardel said, “Wausau PD is very proud of its K-9 program for the integral part it plays in our drug prevention and enforcement efforts. With the financial support from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, Wausau Police will expand the K-9 program and have a larger impact on our community. We will continue to aggressively enforce drug laws to make Wausau a great place to live and visit. We are very grateful for the generosity of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. Additionally, we want to thank the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin for being the fiscal agent of this grant.”
On November 27th, Ben announced a grant to the Hagerstown Fire Department near Baltimore where the Steelers play the Ravens on Thanksgiving night.
The Hagerstown Fire Department will use the grant to purchase a trained explosives detection K-9 and training for the new dog’s handler.
Hagerstown Fire Department Chief Kyd Dieterich said, “We are so grateful the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation recognizes this need in our community, and we’re even more excited to have an explosives detection K-9 dedicated to the fire department. This will significantly improve response times for those calls where there’s a greater potential for damage to people and property. With this grant, the Hagerstown Fire Department will be able to provide greater services to our citizens without any cost to the taxpayers.”
On November 21st, Ben announced that his Foundation, in association with The Giving Back Fund, distributed a grant to the Euclid Police Department in honor of the Steelers upcoming game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, November 24th.
The department will apply the grant funds to the purchase and training of a new dog to replace recently retired K-9 Max (photo at left). Funds will also be used to purchase a ballistic vest for the new K-9.
Euclid Chief of Police Thomas Brickman said, “On behalf of the Euclid Police Department, we would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for the K-9 Grant that has been awarded to our community. Like many other U.S. cities, the City of Euclid has its financial challenges. With the impending retirement of K-9 Max due to health reasons, we thought our only option would be to reduce our K-9 unit strength to two working dogs. With the assistance of the Foundation, we will now be able to keep three working dogs in service.”
On October 24th, Ben announced the fourth grant of the season to the Sacramento Police Department, northeast of Oakland, where the Steelers will play the Raiders on Sunday, October 27th.
Sacramento PD plans to apply the grant to the purchase and training of a new dog, K-9 Rex. Rex is a 17-month-old Belgian Malinois that will be teamed up with Officer Aaron Thompson.
Sergeant Steve Oliveira of the Sacramento Police K-9 unit said, “The Sacramento Police Department is proud of its dedicated personnel, including four-legged K-9 members that help protect the citizens of Sacramento and our officers. We highly value our K-9 partners that enable us to do our jobs better in a variety of circumstances where humans alone may not be as successful. We are extremely appreciative that the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation chose to honor our K-9 Unit with a grant toward the purchase and training of the newest member of our department, K-9 Rex.”
On October 10th, the second and third grants of the 2013-14 season were announced by Ben and the The Giving Back Fund.
“The Fort Lee Police Department is honored to be the recipient of the Roethlisberger Foundation grant”, said Chief Keith Bendul. “This grant will enable Fort Lee to expand our K-9 unit and enhance the safety of our community through proactive patrols which combat drugs and criminal activity.”
On September 12th, The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation announced it’s first grant of 2013 NFL season. The Foundation will be distributing a grant to the Bellbrook Fire Department northeast of Cincinnati, OH where the Steelers will play the Bengals on Monday, September 16th.
The grant funds will benefit not only the Bellbrook Fire Department’s four K-9 teams, but will also assist with updating the aging Vectren Bellbrook Fire Department Search and Rescue Canine Agility Site, managed by the organization, Ohio Disaster Search Dogs. In the past 10 years, the site has hosted K-9 teams from across the nation to provide integral training and practice.
On February 6th, 2013, Ben announced the final grants of the 2012-13 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund. The Foundation will be distributing eight grants totaling $66,382.17 to police departments in the Pittsburgh, PA area.
The K-9 Departments receiving funding from Ben’s Foundation this year are the Borough of Kittanning, Center Township, City of Aliquippa, City of Clairton, Latrobe, Mt. Pleasant Borough, New Castle, and Robinson Township Police Departments. Funds will be used to start new K-9 units as well as maintain existing ones who will purchase additional K-9s, K-9 safety vests, training equipment, food and other necessary expenses of the K-9 units.
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation is grateful for its generous supporters who have enabled it to expand its K-9 grant program, including Pro Camps and Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office as well as caring individual donors from around the country.
The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office has generously offered to match half of the grants awarded to departments in their county. This includes Robinson Township and City of Clairton Police Departments.
Allegheny County District Attorney, Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said, “I appreciate the work of Ben Roethlisberger and his foundation in helping to ensure that law enforcement in Allegheny County have the best tools, equipment and training available. I am proud of our continuing partnership with The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.”
Robinson Township Police Chief Dale Vietmeier added, “I would like to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for the support in helping us establish our K-9 unit. The donation from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has allowed us to purchase our first ever K-9 that will not only benefit the Robinson Township Police Department, but the entire community that we serve.”
City of Aliquippa Chief of Police Andre Davis offered, “We are especially proud and appreciative to Ben Roethlisberger for all the work and support that he provides through his foundation to not only the City of Aliquippa but Western Pennsylvania in general. His giving heart and spirit are a true testament to his character and love for the area that he works and lives in. He truly knows the meaning of giving back.”
New Castle City Police Department Chief Robert Salem shared, “From apprehending suspects, to locating dangerous drugs, the K-9 unit plays an integral role in the public safety services we provide. In addition, K-9 dogs and their handlers conduct presentations for children and community organizations that provide an engaging medium to learn about law enforcement and safety. I commend the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for their continued assistance in supporting local law enforcement in our vital mission.”
Finally, Kittanning Borough Councilwoman, Kim Fox said “The grant will allow the police department to purchase a dual purpose K-9 police dog. On behalf of Kittanning Police Department and Kittanning Borough Council we would like to thank Ben Roethlisberger and everyone at the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for the generous donation to our new K-9 unit and for their continued support of law enforcement.”
This announcement completes the Foundation’s sixth grant cycle, during which it distributed more than $135,000 in grants to K-9 units around the country.
In addition to the Pittsburgh grants announced, the Foundation distributed grants to police and fire departments in the cities and surrounding communities of each regular season away game for the Steelers in the 2012-13 season. The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation invited police and fire departments in the eight cities to submit proposals detailing their needs.
Since 2007, the Ben’s Foundation has made 107 grants totaling more than $950,000 to 102 police and fire departments and five community youth organizations, including Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Make A Wish Foundation.
These 102 canine grants have funded the purchase of more than 66 dogs, the training of more than 28 dogs and 50 handlers, safety equipment for more than of 52 dogs and training equipment for more than 31 dogs as well as food, vet services and housing for countless more.
On December 14th, The Foundation will be distributing a grant to the Arlington Police Department where the Steelers were set to play the Cowboys on December 16th.
The Arlington Police Department plans to use the funds for equipment and other needs for their K-9 unit which currently consists of three teams of handlers and dogs.
Arlington Interim Chief of Police, Will Johnson, said, “Last year, we lost a loyal K-9 who had served the Arlington community for six years. Vic, a Dutch Shepherd, had to be put to sleep due to inoperable cancer. Thanks to community support and donations, a new K-9 was purchased earlier this year and continues to be trained. The needs of maintaining a very active K-9 unit are substantial. The Arlington Police Department is grateful for the support that The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has shown in providing this grant to help further our K-9 program.”
On November 21st, Ben announced that the sixth grant of the 2012-13 season would be distributed to the South Euclid Police Department just outside of Cleveland, Ohio where the Steelers play the Browns on Sunday, November 25th.
The South Euclid Police Department recently retired beloved K-9 “Rex” in July, and plans to use the funds to purchase a new canine for their department. The funds will also be used to purchase a ballistic vest for the new dog and other necessary training and safety equipment.
“This Thanksgiving, the men and women of the South Euclid Police Department have something very special to be thankful for. The grant from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation will allow the K-9 unit to continue the important work we do.” — South Euclid Police K-9 Officer Michael Fink.
When the foundation contacted Officer Michael Fink to notify him of the grant, he had just called another department requesting K-9 assistance at an active crime scene. The new K-9 addition will fill an obvious void felt by the absence of K-9 Rex after 10 years of dedicated service.
Chief of Police Kevin Nietert said, “On behalf of the South Euclid Police Department, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for their generous donation to our K-9 program and their continued support of law enforcement.”
On November 1st, Ben announced that the Foundation would be distributing a grant to the Jersey City Police Department just outside of New York, NY where the Steelers play the Giants on Sunday, November 4th.
The grant follows Hurricane Sandy’s destruction through New Jersey and much of the Northeast which left Jersey City crippled.
The Jersey City Police Department has been working in extreme overdrive to help its citizens safely deal with the storm’s aftermath.
“This is why we do what we do. Providing dogs to first respondents so that they can respond in times like this is our main motivation. The citizens of Jersey City are fortunate to have such dedicated police and fire departments on hand and we are proud to assist in this small way.” –Ben
The Jersey City Police Department plans to use the funds to purchase much needed equipment for their K-9 unit service dogs including crates, ballistic vests, and combat harnesses among other gear for their 10 canines.
On October 18th, the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office received a grant for the purchase of a new K9. Kenton County is just outside of Cincinnati where the Steelers play the Bengals on Sunday, October 21st.
The Sheriff’s Office will utilize the grant to replace their existing K-9 with a dual purpose trained K-9. K-9 NIKO, who has been on the force since 2006, has suffered from hip dysplasia and is slated for retirement in the near future. NIKO will be taken care of in retirement by his current K-9 handler.
NIKO has been a tremendous asset to the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office since his first 30 minutes on duty when, on a routine traffic stop, he alerted his handler to drugs and weapons in the vehicle.
On October 11th, Ben announced that his foundation will be distributing a grant to the Millersville Police Department just outside of Nashville, TN where the Steelers will play the Titans on Thursday Night Football that same day.
The Millersville Police Department will utilize the grant funds to start its K-9 Unit by purchasing its first narcotics dog. Nashville K-9, LLC has committed to training the dog and a handler free of charge. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is also donating equipment to properly outfit Millersville PD’s first K-9 vehicle.
Millersville Chief of Police Ronnie Williams said, “We are thankful for what The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation does to help smaller departments like ours.”
Now on October 26th, The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation was featured in the evening news broadcast of a Nashville, Tennessee television station.
WKRN-TV Channel 2 reported on the story of the grant from Ben’s foundation to the small town of Millersville and the police department’s plans for putting that grant to good use in light of recent criminal events.
You can watch video of the news broadcast here, as well as read an accompanying article.
On September 20th, the Foundation awarded a grant to the Oakland Police Department in Oakland, CA. The Steelers play the Raiders in Oakland on Sunday, September 23rd.
The Oakland PD K-9 unit currently consists of 14 dog teams, 12 of which are used on patrol. All are used to search and apprehend criminal suspects and two are cross trained for narcotics detection.
The department is seeking financial assistance to purchase equipment that will be used by their K9 unit both in training and during deployment of the canines.
Oakland Chief of Police Howard Jordan said, “The Oakland Police Department is grateful for the generous donation for such a vital program.”
On September 6th, Ben announced that the first grant of the season would be distributed to the Denver Sheriff’s Department in Denver, CO where the Steelers play the Broncos on Sunday, September 9th.
The department is seeking financial assistance to purchase a canine trained in explosives detection and the necessary training and certification for the handler. Recently, the department’s existing K9 was used to sweep the theaters after the Aurora shooting tragedy.
Denver Sheriff’s Department Division Chief Marie Kielar said, “The benefits to public safety by adding a bomb dog to our team are immeasurable. This dog and his handler will participate in daily sweeps of Denver’s two courthouses; as well as, courtrooms holding high-profile trials, and jury assembly rooms.” Chief Kielar added, “In addition to providing enhanced security for the judiciary, their staff and the public, our new acquisition will serve as a good-will ambassador between the Denver Sheriff’s Department and the citizens we serve.”
On May 17, 2012, the Foundation was pleased to announce that the first grant of the 2012 season will go to the Findlay Police Department in Ohio. The funds will be used to purchase a new canine and train both the dog and handler.
Findlay Police Chief Greg Horne said, “This is the second time the Foundation has been gracious enough to give us a dog. Our current dog is now in need of retirement and we couldn’t be happier that The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has stepped in again. We recognize that the Foundation does not often give to the same department multiple times, so we feel very fortunate.”
The first K-9 grant made by The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation was to the Findlay Police Department in 2006 to replace a canine that was tragically shot and killed in the line of duty. The Foundation is pleased to provide continued support to the law enforcement agency of Roethlisberger’s hometown.
On April 18th, 2012, an article in the Wall Street Journal announced the latest addition to the New York State Police:
This dog don’t hunt, but it will track down criminals and search for missing people.
State police in the Hudson Valley say they’re getting a new bloodhound, thanks to Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Troopers in Troop K, a four-county area east of the Hudson River, say the Kody Snodgrass Memorial Foundation is providing the new dog. The foundation breeds, raises and trains bloodhounds for police work with law enforcement agencies.
The latest canine addition to the trooper ranks is made possible by a grant from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.
According to Angie at the Kody Snodgrass Memorial Foundation, “Jim Bob” is a 15-month old, 110lb “gentle giant” who is trained in scent discrimination, and ready to go to work!
You can read more here.
You can see photos of “Jim Bob” here.
On February 21st, 2012, Ben announced the final grants of the 2011-12 season from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund. The Foundation will be distributing nine grants totaling $52,400 to police and fire departments in the Pittsburgh, PA area.
The K-9 Departments receiving funding from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation this year are Borough of Aspinwall PD; Butler County Sheriff’s Office; City of Aliquippa Police Department; Eureka Hose Company; Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department; Johnstown Police Department; Masontown Police Department; Penn Hills Police Department; and the Westmoreland County Park Police.
Funds will be used to cover canine purchases, training, safety and training equipment, food and other necessary expenses of the K-9 units.
Mike Manko, Communications Director at Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, said, “In keeping with a commitment to canine programs that Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala made when he first took office, the office is pleased to partner with Ben Roethlisberger and The Giving Back Fund by donating $15,000 this year to assist the grant program in funding a number of canine units in Allegheny County.”
This announcement completes the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation’s fifth grant cycle, during which it distributed more than $130,000 in grants to K-9 units around the country.
In addition to the Pittsburgh grants announced, the Foundation distributed grants to police and fire departments in the cities and surrounding communities of each regular season away game for the Steelers in the 2011-12 season. The Foundation invited police and fire departments in the eight cities to submit proposals detailing their needs.
The 2011-12 NFL season also marked the first grant cycle that allowed non-NFL market cities to apply with grants to be awarded for every Steeler playoff game.
Since 2007, Ben’s Foundation has made 98 grants totaling almost $850,000 to 94 police and fire departments and four community youth organizations, including Ronald McDonald House Charities. These 94 canine grants have funded the purchase of more than 55 dogs, the training of more than 25 dogs and 50 handlers, safety equipment for more than of 45 dogs and training equipment for more than 25 dogs as well as food, vet services and housing for countless more.
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation is grateful for its generous supporters who have enabled it to expand its K-9 grant program, including Pro Camps, Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, NFL Charities, and REP1 Sports as well as caring individual donors from around the country.
You can read an excellent article from Fire Engineering magazine on these grants here.
On January 25th, 2012, Ben announced the ninth grant of the 2011-2012 season from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
The Foundation distributed a grant to the Kody Snodgrass Memorial Foundation in support of the New York State Troopers.
The Kody Snodgrass Memorial Foundation, known as 832 K-9’s Deputy Dogs, will utilize the grant to replace a bloodhound that recently retired early from the New York State Troopers. The new bloodhound will be instituted for search and rescue, criminal tracking, and other scent-specific searches across the Hudson Valley.
From their website:
“The Kody Snodgrass Memorial Foundation, Inc. is dedicated to providing law enforcement with exceptional bloodhounds trained for police work at little or no charge. The Foundation breeds, raises and trains registered bloodhounds, providing the expert training necessary for these dogs to become valuable partners in the law enforcement community.”
You can read about Officer Snodgrass who is the inspiration for this mission here.
During the 2011-12 NFL season, The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation distributed grants to K-9 units of police and fire departments in the cities and surrounding communities of each regular season away game for the Steelers. This grant marks the first and only grant of the season gifted outside of the NFL markets in honor of the Steelers’ playoff appearance. The Foundation will also distribute several grants to the Pittsburgh area after the Super Bowl.
On December 29th, Ben’s foundation distributed a grant to the Cleveland Heights Police Department near Cleveland, Ohio where the Steelers played the Browns on Sunday, January 1st.
The Cleveland Heights Police Department’s K-9 division will utilize the grant to provide for the purchase and training of a new canine, as well as a K-9 ballistic vest.
Cleveland Heights Chief of Police Jeffrey Robertson said, “The K-9 will be a great addition to our department, not only on the law enforcement side, but in our continued initiatives in community policing programs. I look forward to seeing our new K-9 in our elementary schools visiting with the kids and allowing our officers to interact with the younger residents of our City.” Chief Robertson added, “On behalf of the Cleveland Heights Police Department, I would like to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for selecting our department as the recipient of a grant.”
On December 19th, Ben announced the seventh grant of the season. His foundation distributed a grant to the Antioch Police Department near San Francisco, CA where the Steelers played the 49ers on Monday Night Football, December 19th.
The Antioch Police Department will use the grant to purchase a dual purpose canine, trained in patrol procedures and narcotics detection, so that an 11-year-old veteran canine can retire.
Antioch Chief of Police Allan Cantando said, “We are truly honored to have been selected by the Foundation as a grant recipient and are excited about the long-term benefits this grant will allow our canine unit, the Antioch Police Department and the City of Antioch to enjoy for the years to come.” Cantando added, “These grant funds will be used to purchase a new dual purpose canine to ensure the continued success of the unit.”
On November 23rd, Ben’s foundation distributed a grant to the Kansas City Police Department in Kansas City, Missouri where the Steelers play the Chiefs on Sunday, November 27th.
The department will purchase a dual purpose canine so that a 10-year-old veteran canine can retire. The new canine’s skill will be put to work on the national stage during the 2012 MLB All-Star Game and at presidential candidate events in the upcoming year.
Kansas City Police Commander Kevin O’Sullivan said, “The Kansas City, Missouri Police Department is thrilled to be receiving this award from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. The money will be used to purchase a dual purpose canine for both patrol work and bomb detection. We have a great need for a young energetic pup to take the place of a very experienced dog that will be retired this year.”
On November 10th, The foundation distributed a grant to the Norwood Police Department just outside of Cincinnati, OH where the Steelers played the Bengals on Sunday, November 13th.
In commenting on why the mission of the foundation is so important to him, Roethlisberger said, “We’re very fortunate to be in the position that we are able to help these K-9 units. The work that is performed by the dogs and their handlers as well as the bond that is formed is incredible. We’re just thrilled to do our small part.”
The department is seeking financial assistance to purchase training and safety equipment for a canine and training for the handler.
Norwood Police Chief Keith Belleman said, “The Norwood Police Department is proud and grateful to receive the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation grant. This grant will allow the Norwood Police Department to re-institute its K-9 program. If not for the generosity of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, this would not have been possible. Mr. Roethlisberger has repeatedly shown his commitment to law enforcement and we couldn’t be more appreciative.”
On October 20th, Ben announced the fourth grant of the 2011 season from his foundation to the Avondale Police Department, in Avondale, AZ, just outside of Phoenix where the Steelers played the Cardinals on Sunday, October 23rd.
“The Avondale Police Department is proud to receive the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation Grant”, said Avondale Police Chief Kevin Kotsur. “It was not without our partnership with the Boys and Girls club of Metropolitan Phoenix and the Tri-City West/Thornwood Branch whose sponsorship made this grant possible.
“The grant was made specifically to the Avondale Police Department’s K-9 unit who will be using the monies granted for much needed equipment, ballistic vest made for K-9’s and in service training for the handlers and service dogs as well,” the Chief continued. “We can’t thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation enough for their consideration of our team.”
Update on Avondale Police Department and what they did with their grant here.
On September 30th, the foundation distributed a grant to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, in Houston, TX, where the Steelers played the Texans on Sunday, October 2nd.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office will use the grant to increase the size of their existing K-9 corps by purchasing a trainable, dual-purpose canine that will then be passed along to their own certified staff for narcotics detection and patrol-related training. This addition will bring their unit total up to 16 certified dogs.
“Increasing the number of K-9s that can detect drugs, bombs and hidden humans has been important in my effort to keep our community as crime-free as possible,” Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, a Houston native who has rooted for the Texans and Oilers to triumph over the Steelers for years.
“Maybe it helps that we both wear Black and Gold!” Garcia added, referring to the Steelers and Sheriff’s Office uniform colors.
A tweet from the Houston based “K9’s4cops” organization this week not only thanked Ben for the grant but told their followers that “our next crime fighting K9 ‘Big Ben’ will proudly wear the #7 on his collar!!”
And more on the grant from Erik Barajas, news anchor at ABC-13 in Houston, Texas:
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office just got a big boost from an unlikely source.
A generous donation is helping out the Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit.
One guy that is not happy with Houston is Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.
We sent him home on crutches after the Texans’ 17-10 victory. But, Big Ben as they call him, seems to have a big heart after making a big donation benefiting the HCSO….
You can read more and see video of Mr. Barajas’ report and ride-along with the Sheriff’s Office here.
On September 22nd, Ben announced the second grant of the 2011 to the Lafayette Police Department, in Lafayette, IN, just outside of Indianapolis where the Steelers played the Colts on Sunday, September 25th.
The Lafayette Police Department will use the grant to increase the size of their existing K-9 corps, purchasing a dual purpose narcotic detection K-9 that is pre-trained with both patrol and tracking capabilities. This addition will bring their total number of K-9 units up to five.
Lafayette Police Department Chief Don Roush, acknowledging the 2011 police K-9 grant, stated: “The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation’s support of police K-9 programs around the country clearly demonstrates the Foundation’s commitment to law enforcement and our K-9 partners. I would like to thank the foundation for its leadership role and for partnering with the Lafayette Police Department to enhance our ability to provide the very best police K-9 services for the citizens of Lafayette.”
On September 7th, the first grant of the season was awarded to to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, in Rockville, MD – just outside of Baltimore where the Steelers will play the Ravens on Sunday, September 11th.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office will use the grant to purchase four “K9 Storm” bullet proof vests, to help protect the department’s four highly specialized canine teams.
All members of the Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit are trained as dual purpose K9s for the detection of explosives as well as patrol functions. The grant will add another level of safety for the canines while they handle their duties both in and around the Montgomery County area, protecting the lives and property of the citizens of Maryland and surrounding states.
Montgomery County, Maryland, Sheriff Darren M. Popkin acknowledging the 2011 police K-9 grant stated: “The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation program recognizes the importance of well-trained K-9 teams as part our overall law enforcement efforts. Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office K-9 dogs are cross trained for search, patrol and explosive detection duties. The grant funds will provide our dogs with vests that protect them from attacks with firearms and knifes while engaged in their duties.”
The grants were distributed to police and fire departments in and around the cities of the Steelers away-games: Nashville, TN; Tampa Bay, FL; Miami, FL; New Orleans, LA; Cincinnati, OH; Buffalo, NY; Baltimore, MD; Cleveland, OH.
Grants were also distributed to several police departments in the Pittsburgh area in early March of 2011.
This was the fourth grant cycle for The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.
On September 16th, the Hendersonville, Tennessee police department received the first grant of 2010 from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. The department is seeking financial assistance to purchase a canine trained for the dual-purpose of narcotics and patrol duties.
“The Hendersonville Police Department greatly appreciates the support and assistance from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation grant,” said Hendersonville Police Interim Chief James L. Jones. “This grant will assist our department in continuing to provide K-9 services to the citizens of our community. The forming of partnerships between law enforcement and the private sector is an excellent way to provide enhanced services to communities across the nation.”
On September 24th, the Kody Snodgrass Memorial Foundation received a grant to assist them in their continuing efforts to train bloodhounds for law enforcement jobs, specifically to assist with child abductions.
“The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has enabled this organization to bring more children home,” said Angela Snodgrass, Foundation Chairperson and mother of Kody. “Our mission is to save lives, and by increasing the level of training given to these miraculous bloodhounds, we also increase the success rate of finding the lost.”
From their website:
“The Kody Snodgrass Memorial Foundation, Inc. is dedicated to providing law enforcement with exceptional bloodhounds trained for police work at little or no charge. The Foundation, known as 832 K-9’s Deputy Dogs breeds, raises and trains registered bloodhounds, providing the expert training necessary for these dogs to become valuable partners in the law enforcement community.”
You can read about Officer Snodgrass, who is the inspiration for this mission here.
On October 21st, Ben announced that grants were distributed to both the North Miami Beach and the City of North Miami Police Departments, where the Steelers would play that weekend against the Dolphins.
Thomas A. Carney, Director of Police Services and Chief of Staff for the North Miami Beach Police Department said, “We are greatly appreciate of the donation by Mr. Roethlisberger. Our K-9 dogs are very important to our officers who risk their lives every day to protect our community. In these difficult budgetary times, we must rely more and more on outside sources of funding to support our officers’ efforts. This grant will provide our officers with additional resources to protect the citizens of North Miami Beach.”
Larry Juriga, Assistant Chief of Police of the North Miami Police Department said of their grant, “The North Miami Police Department is truly thankful to The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for its generous support. The foundation’s grant will provide much needed equipment to protect our K-9′s, who in turn, will protect our officers and citizens. Our partnership with the foundation will add significantly to the success of our mission.”
On October 28th, Ben announced the distribution of a grant to the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, in New Orleans, LA. The Steelers played the New Orleans Saints on Halloween night – Sunday, October 31st.
The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office used the grant to purchase a narcotics detection canine that will be utilized in both patrol and corrections applications. Grant funds will also be used toward a four-week handler training course.
Chief William Short, chief deputy of the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office said, “On behalf of Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman and our entire department, I would like to express our sincerest gratitude to Mr. Roethlisberger for providing us with funding in support of our canine unit. This funding could not have come at a better time as our current narcotics canine is ready for retirement after years of devoted service. With severe budget cuts, we were unsure how we would find the funds to replace her.”
Chief Short added, “We would also like to thank the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation for sponsoring us for this grant.”
On November 8th, the City of Middletown Police Department in Ohio received a grant to assist in updating their training equipment and facilities, including the construction of six kennels. The facility is used for the training purposes of Middletown canines and handlers, as well as those of the City of Monroe, City of Kettering, City of Oxford and Miami of Ohio University.
Middletown Police Chief Schwarber said, “We’d like to express our appreciation for this generous gift from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. Mr. Roethlisberger is a true supporter of canine programs and in the tough economic times, it’s gratifying to see a professional athlete like this step in and provide funding for a project that otherwise would not get done.”
On November 23rd, the City of Buffalo Police Department received a grant to purchase a canine trained in explosives detection. The canine will replace recently retired, Garo, an explosive detection dog who served eight years with the department. The new canine will also be trained to track missing persons and fugitives, locate evidence, apprehend criminals, and also to protect his partner.
Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, “I am pleased to receive this grant from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, which provides funding for a new police dog in the Buffalo Police Department. These funds will enable our police department to purchase the dog, train it and put it to work on our continuing anti-crime efforts across the City of Buffalo.”
On December 2nd, the foundation distributed a grant to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, located in Rockville, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore where the Steelers take on the Ravens this Sunday.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office will use the grant to purchase explosive detection training supplies and equipment for the continued training of their explosive detection K-9 units.
The grant will put more certified and much needed explosive detection K-9 units on the street to protect the lives and the property of the citizens of Maryland and the surrounding states.
Sheriff Darren M. Popkin said, “As the Sheriff-elect in Montgomery County, Maryland, it is my honor as one of my first official acts, to acknowledge the generosity of The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for their grant for our K-9 explosive detection training program. The grant will allow the Sheriff’s Office to expand our explosive detection training for the Sheriff’s Office and other affiliated law enforcement agencies in our region.” Sheriff Popkin, who was sworn in yesterday, added, “Attempted detection of concealed explosives is an extremely sensitive and hazardous undertaking. Ben Roethlisberger’s foundation’s grant will improve our K-9 expertise and provide years of enhanced explosive detection training.”
On December 30th, Ben announced the ninth and final grant of the 2010 season outside of the Pittsburgh area. The grant was awarded to the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Police Department (CMHAPD), located in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Police Department will use the grant to purchase much needed detection training supplies and protection equipment for their K-9 unit. The funds will help fill a void in the department left by the loss of Kubo, CMHA’s three-year old police dog, who died on September 27, 2010 during a training exercise.
Chief of Police Andres Gonzalez said, “I want to thank The Ben Foundation Foundation for this very timely award. We will now be able to enhance our training program and purchase needed items and vests for our K-9 unit.”
CEO and Safety Director George Phillips-Oliver added, “I appreciate the consideration given to us by The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. This generous grant will significantly enhance our police department. It will be used to improve the K-9 unit.”
January 12th, 2011 Update: You can see photos of the CMHAPD’s newest officers here.
On March 10th, 2011, Ben announced the final grants of the 2010-2011 season for The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
The Foundation distributed over $51,000 in grants to seven different police K-9 units in the Pittsburgh area.
The police departments that received funding this year are the City of Pittsburgh, Center Township, Greensburg, Indiana Township, Swissvale, Westmoreland County, and the Borough of Gallitzin.
This completes the fourth cycle of The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, during which it distributed more than $100,000 in grants to K-9 units across the country.
Greensburg Chief of Police Walter J. Lyons said, “The police K-9 unit has been and continues to be a valuable tool in community policing activities, criminal apprehension, tracking, and drug cases. The support given by the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation is critical to maintaining a first class police K-9 unit.”
Center Township Chief of Police Barry D. Kramer said his department, “greatly appreciates the generosity of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. The Center Township Police Department will do our best to take this opportunity to develop and implement a K-9 program to make our community a safer place.”
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation was also blessed with several generous sponsors that have enabled it to expand it’s K-9 grant program, including American Eagle, Kerzner International Resorts and the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office as well as from caring individual donors from around the country.
In commenting on why the mission of the foundation is so important to him, Ben said, “We’re very fortunate to be in the position that we are able to help these K-9 units. The work that is performed by the dogs and their handlers as well as the bond that is formed is incredible. We’re just thrilled to do our small part.”
On April 5th, 2011, the NFL announced that it has awarded $1 million in grants to the charities of nearly 90 current and former players. The league said that star quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, and Philip Rivers were among those receiving up to $50,000 for their foundations.
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at work –
From an article on February 23, 2011 at KTAR News in Phoenix:
The Phoenix Fire Department’s urban search and rescue team will not go to New Zealand to help with earthquake recovery, but the team still spent Wednesday morning training its search dogs to deal with disasters.
A firefighter was lowered into a hole under concrete rubble in Tempe and it was up to a black lab named Big Ben — after Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger — to find the trapped man.
“Ben Roethlisberger actually donated dog food for a year and 15 annual physicals for our dogs,” said Fire Capt. John Dean.
He noted Big Ben found his man in a matter of seconds, while it could have taken firefighters minutes or hours.
“Even with all the technology we have — and we embrace it, we’re always looking for new ideas and new things — you just can’t beat that dog and their nose, and they’re nice to have around, too.”
You can see a photo of “Big Ben” at work here.
Ben’s foundation has been giving grants for use in the purchase of K-9 dogs and equipment, assisting with training and even veterinary bills, to police and fire departments across the country since 2006.
Every city in which Ben plays football is eligible, so regardless of what team wins, the community where they play always comes out a winner.
The idea for the foundation came from Ben’s father, Ken. In 2006, a K-9 police dog in Findlay, Ohio named “Flip”, was shot and killed.
“I’ve always been a dog person,” Ben said. “So it just made sense to do this. A couple of months later, my dad asked, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to buy a dog for every city that you play in?'”
Big Ben giving back in a big way
It was a busy season for Ben’s Foundation. Ben awarded grants to police departments in Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Denver, Kansas City (MO), and to the Baltimore City Police — making it possible for these departments to purchase police K-9’s.
On September 18th, the Cook County Sheriff’s office in Illinois received a grant to purchase a new K-9 to replace another dog that had recently been retired.
At that time, Sheriff Tom Dart told the Chicago Sun Times that adding another dog to the canine unit “will enable our department to even better serve the citizens of Cook County. We are honored to be the first recipient of this year’s grant and thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for its generous support to local law enforcement.”
A week later, on September 26th, the Cincinnati Police Department received funds to purchase a dog to replace a retiring K-9 as well.
On October 10th, grants from the Foundation purchased two K-9’s for the Detroit Police Department. WWJ-950 News Radio in Detroit insisted that although Ben “may want to beat the Detroit Lions Sunday afternoon at Ford Field, he’s helping the Detroit Police Department.”
Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans was happy to accept the help, “In these difficult budgetary times we must rely more and more on outside sources of funding to support our officers’ efforts. This grant will provide our officers additional resources to protect the citizens of Detroit.”
On November 10th, Ben and his Foundation came through again with a grant for the purchase of a new K-9 in Denver. At the time, Colorado’s 9-News wrote “Broncos fans may not be excited to see Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but the Denver Police Department is ecstatic.”
On November 17th, the Foundation made it possible for the Kansas City, Missouri police to purchase a new dog.
“We are thrilled to receive this grant, especially because of how tight our budget is this year,” Chief James Corwin said in a press release. “This money will be used to replace Rambo, one of our canines who will be retiring because of arthritis. The police department can now keep our Canine Section fully staffed, which is critical to our patrol operations.”
To see a K-9 tribute video to Ben and his Foundation that is featured on YouTube, click here.
For more information on grant requests, please contact:
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation
5757 W. Century Blvd., Suite 410
Los Angeles, CA 90045
“I have had the opportunity to see first-hand how important the dogs are to these men and women who risk their lives every day to protect us. It’s incredible to see the strong bond that is formed between the dogs and their partners both on the job and at home.” — Ben.