June 25, 2024

Veterans and first responders to be honored at county Hero Day event

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Jake Sias

Grant County Herald

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon of Grant County will host its third annual Hero Day in Elbow Lake on September 9. This event aims to recognize heroes in the community, focusing on both veterans and all first responders, a unique approach within the organization. Hero Day is typically scheduled around the anniversary of 9/11 to honor those who serve the community and the nation. The event will be held at the Elbow Lake Fire Hall and will commence at 7:30, opening with the Elbow Lake Fire Department’s pancake breakfast. 

In previous years, Hero Day events were held in various locations, including Herman, Hoffman, and Ashby. This year’s event includes the presentation of the Veteran Impact Awards and a speech from Tony Bollman, a Navy veteran and volunteer with the Douglas Sheriff’s posse. Quilts of Valor will also attend to present quilts to nominated veterans.

A significant part of Hero Day is its fundraising component, with both live and silent auctions scheduled. Funds raised will be directed toward scholarships and the direct assistance program of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon of Grant County. This program aims to provide financial aid to those heroes who might be facing financial struggles. On average, nine applications for direct assistance are submitted annually to help individuals in need. 

Grant County is home to roughly 500 veterans. Approximately 20% of the county’s population has direct military ties. In total, there are 211 Fire, First Responder, & EMS volunteers in Grant County. These volunteers work regular paid jobs and attend emergency calls at all hours. Their training and dedication are noted as integral to the community.

“We estimate that nearly 40% of the Grant county population, approximately 2300 people, have direct family ties to a local hero, i.e. former and current, Law Enforcement, Fire and Rescue and Emergency Medical Services,” said Bob Larsen, Grant County’s veteran services officer. “Of course we are making assumptions on average family size, etc, but this shows how deep these ties are within our rural communities.” 

Grant County’s six local fire departments are staffed by volunteer responders, including:

Ashby Fire & First Responders

Barrett Fire & First Responders

Elbow Lake Fire & First Responders

Herman Fire & First Responders

Hoffman Fire & First Responders

Wendell Fire & First Responders

There are also three volunteer-staffed ambulance services in Grant County:

Lake Region Ambulance

Ashby Ambulance

Hoffman Ambulance

Additionally, three ambulance services in Grant County, namely Lake Region Ambulance, Ashby Ambulance, and Hoffman Ambulance, are primarily staffed by volunteers. These volunteer responders are known for their commitment to the community and the training hours they put in, despite holding paid jobs.

Tina Lindquist, Grant County’s emergency manager, captured the essence of Hero Day, stating, “Not only do we want to celebrate our local responders, but also their families. Many volunteer responders miss family events to help others in need.”

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