“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 donate to The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at the Giving Back Fund, just click on the icon below!
“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.
2013 – 14 Grant Guidelines for the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation:
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, founded by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, welcomes grant inquiries for support in 2013. The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation will disperse grants to police and fire departments’ K-9 units throughout the U.S. This is the seventh grant cycle for The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.
The majority of the grants distributed will help K-9 units to purchase dogs and dog safety vests, but other types of K-9 related needs are considered.
ELIGIBILITY: K-9 units of police and fire departments in Pittsburgh, PA and in the city/surrounding area of each regular season away game for the Steelers in the 2013 season are eligible.
For each round of playoffs entered by the Steelers, the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation will also award a grant to one city anywhere in the U.S. that would not otherwise be eligible (must be non-NFL market cities). The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation can only distribute grants to qualified 501(c)(3) organizations. Although police and fire departments are tax-exempt organizations, they may not have a 501(c)(3) designation and thus, must show support from a 501(c)(3) organization that is willing to accept funding on the department’s behalf. Each application must come from a police or fire department with support from a charity. Charities are not eligible to apply on their own.
REQUIREMENTS: Please submit all of the following items and information in one proposal. Incomplete applications will not be accepted or pursued. PLEASE DO NOT FAX APPLICATION.
Grant proposals must include the following:
- Completed cover sheet (see page 2) with department name, address,telephone number, fax number and email address for chief/sheriff and contact person as well as any previous funding from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.
- A brief background on the department and demonstrated success of existing K-9 unit, if applicable.
- Summary of needs for the K-9 unit.
- AK-9 department specific budget (this need not exceed two pages). DO NOT SEND ENTIRE DEPARTMENT BUDGET.
- Amount requested and explanation of how it will be used.
- Letter of support from sponsoring 501(c)(3) organization/charity (if using an outside entity).
- Sponsoring organization’s 501(c)(3) determination letter from the IRS.
- Explanation of how the K-9 unit has previously been funded (excluding Ben Roethlisberger Foundation funding).
- Explanation of how the K-9 unit will continue to support and sustain itself in the coming years.
Must be received by August 15, 2013. Late or incomplete applications will NOT be accepted.
|Eligible Cities||Deadline for Application||Grant Announcement Date|
|Cincinnati, OH||August 15, 2013||September 12, 2013|
|London, England||August 15, 2013||September 26, 2013|
|New York Metro Area||August 15, 2013||October 10, 2013|
|Oakland, CA||August 15, 2013||October 24, 2013|
|New England Area||August 15, 2013||October 31, 2013|
|Cleveland, OH||August 15, 2013||November 21, 2013|
|Baltimore, MD||August 15, 2013||November 27, 2013|
|Green Bay, WI||August 15, 2013||December 19, 2013|
|Non-NFL Market City*||August 15, 2013||TBD|
|Non-NFL Market City*||August 15, 2013||TBD|
|Pittsburgh, PA||August 15, 2013||After Super Bowl|
*If the Steelers make the playoffs, BRF will also award 1-2 grant(s) to cities anywhere in the U.S. that are not NFL markets.
EVALUATION: Applications will be evaluated on the following criteria: thoroughness of presentation and inclusion of all requested materials; project readiness; demonstrated need; proven sustainability; and level of proposed impact.
For applications please visit http://www.givingback.org/documents/RFP_2013_BRF_app.pdf.
NOTE: We are not accepting unsolicited proposals outside of our grant cycle at this time.
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at work:
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.
From Officer Reuter, Fort Lee (NJ) Police Department in an email sent on March 27, 2014:
My name is Police a Officer John G. Reuter and I am with the Fort Lee Police Department in Fort Lee NJ. 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.
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 -
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 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
6033 West Century Blvd., Suite 350
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.