“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.”
2020 Grant Info:
On August 6, 2020, Ben announced the opening of the 2020 grant cycle of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
This marks the 14th season of grants for Ben’s foundation. The majority of the grants distributed will help police and fire department K-9 units to purchase dogs and dog safety vests, but other types of K-9 specific needs will be considered.
This year, Ben has opened up the eligibility to include all towns and communities in the United States and invites police and fire departments to submit proposals detailing their needs.
The Foundation will begin accepting proposals on September 1st, continuing through the remainder of the year, and plans to make rolling announcements in that time frame and beyond.
The mission of the Ben Roethlisberger 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’s foundation has distributed in excess of $2.2 million since 2007, $1.8 million of which has specifically benefited K-9 programs.
Full grant guidelines and application cover page are available at https://www.givingback.org/ben-roethlisberger-foundation-application-2020/.
Applications and supporting documents must be mailed and postmarked between September 1st and December 31st.
For more information about the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation or The Giving Back Fund, please contact Jessica Duffaut at www.givingback.org.
Photo of Puppy Roethlisbarker taken by Ashley Roethlisberger.
“Thanks to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, the Connellsville Police Department was able to add K-9 Ambroos to the force last year. He is utilized near daily by our department and neighboring departments, making our program well-known and reputable after just a few short months in service. We also dedicated our K-9 vehicle to Mr. Roethlisberger by identifying it as unit 7 and placing the Steelers’ emblem on the front bumper. Our program is young and very successful so far, and with this most recent assistance from the Foundation we will continue to grow and expand our success.” — Officer J. Tyler Garlick, Connellsville Police Department.
Today, Ben announced the final grants of the 2019-20 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund. The Foundation will be distributing eight grants to police and fire K-9 programs in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.
The K-9 departments receiving funding from the Ben’s Foundation this year include the Borough of Homestead Police, City of Beaver Falls Fire Department, City of Butler Police Department, Columbiana Police Department (OH), Connellsville Police Department, Martins Ferry Police Department (OH), Indiana Township Police Department and Uniontown City Police Department.
These departments will be utilizing their respective grants in a variety of canine-focused initiatives including the establishment of new K-9 units, replacement of retiring dogs, purchasing of safety and training equipment, and training and certification of new and existing K-9s among other K-9 related expenses.
“[We are] extremely grateful to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for their generous donation to the Accelerant Detection Canine program. Our program relies on the generosity of donors to safely provide services to fire and law enforcement agencies across Western Pennsylvania. Thanks to the support, K-9 Patty can continue to make a huge difference in Beaver County and far beyond. Mr. Roethlisberger’s love and support of canines is truly admirable and we cannot thank him enough!” — Captain David Seidl, City of Beaver Falls Fire Department.
The mission of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation is to support K-9 units of police and fire departments throughout the United States, with a particular emphasis on service dogs in Pittsburgh, PA. The Foundation has distributed in excess of $2.2 million since 2007, $1.8 million of which has specifically benefited K-9 programs. In addition, Ben has hosted a number of events to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, his high school alma mater and other organizations close to his heart.
“This will go towards keeping our dogs healthy and the equipment that is needed to keep them safe. Lt. Brian Grooms and his partner Chooch and Officer Andrew Niederlander with his partner Rico are extremely thankful for this opportunity and can’t wait to work with the community. The Canine program is funded solely through contributions from the community and any grants that we can receive. We are proud to have the canines back on the road in the City of Butler and look forward to their assistance in our mission to keep Butler a safe place to work and live.” — Chief Bob O’Neill, City of Butler Police Department.
We are so grateful for our generous supporters who have enabled us to maintain this K-9 grant program, including ProCamps, as well as caring individual donors from around the country.
“We appreciate the Foundation helping us with our K-9 efforts. We will apply the funding toward the purchase of a dog and training costs. The residents of Columbiana really support this department and have donated thousands of dollars to help us with the K-9 Program. I have 39 years in law enforcement and have never seen the level of support that we enjoy here. I guess that’s one reason that Reader’s Digest selected Columbiana as ‘The Nicest Place in America’ in 2019. You can check out the article in the November 2019 issue. We will assign the dog and handler to our HEAT initiative. The acronym stands for ‘Hometown Enforcement Against Trafficking’ and we use robotic machine learning and artificial intelligence programs to identify crime trends to proactively prevent crimes from happening. We attack three kinds of trafficking – Drug Trafficking, Human Trafficking and Trafficking in stolen goods. The addition of K-9 teams will be a major boost to those efforts.” — Chief Tim Gladis, Columbiana Police Department (OH).
The mission of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation is to support K-9 units of police and fire departments throughout the United States, with a particular emphasis on service dogs in Pittsburgh, PA. The Foundation has distributed in excess of $2.2 million since 2007, $1.8 million of which has specifically benefited K-9 programs. In addition, Ben has hosted a number of events to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, his high school alma mater and other organizations close to his heart.
“On behalf of [our] Police Department, Indiana Township Board of Supervisors and the Community as a whole, I would like to extend my sincerest thank you to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for awarding our Department a grant to assist with the purchase of our new K-9 Toki. This is Indiana Township’s third K-9 with the assistance of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. The Township began the K-9 program in 2004 with Officer Scott Palmer. The K-9 program continues to grow and improve with the help of not only the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation but the continued support of members of our local community. The residents of Indiana Township along with the surrounding communities generously make donations and hold fundraising events that make this program possible and successful. We are proud to have the only explosive trained dog within all the North Hills’ boroughs and townships. This added training assists not only Indiana Township but the entire North Hills community making our home a safer place for all. K-9 Officer Scott Palmer and K-9 Toki will continue to assist other Departments in the North Hills and look forward to a successful future.” — Chief Timothy Michael, Indiana Township Police Department.
This announcement completes the 13th grant cycle for Ben’s Foundation, during which he distributed 14 grants totaling more than $80,000 to K-9 units around the country. Ben invited police and fire departments located in and around the cities and communities in which the Steelers played to submit proposals detailing their needs.
“The Martins Ferry Police K-9 unit is very grateful to have been selected for the Ben Roethlisberger grant. The Department has recently put a new K9 into service due to an unexpected retirement of the previous K-9. The grant will be used to purchase training equipment to keep the K9 unit in peak performance. The department would like to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for your continued support of our K9 unit.” — K-9 Handler John Holmes, Martins Ferry Police Department (OH).
On January 9th, 2020, Ben announced a grant award from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
His Foundation will be distributing a grant to the Sacramento Police Department honoring the Steelers’ matchup against the San Francisco 49ers earlier this season.
The Sacramento Police Department requested the grant to add a canine to their team and provide much needed funding to the Sacramento Police K-9 unit.
“The Sacramento Police Canine Unit is honored to be selected to receive a grant by the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. With this generous grant, the unit was able to purchase an additional K-9 for the department. The use of K-9’s in our department is a vital component of effectively keeping the community safe. Moreover, it allows the department to better serve the needs of the community as a whole. Specifically, K-9s are a vital tool in the department’s ability to de-escalate violent situations, while allowing our officers to safely take suspects into custody. This grant has allowed the department to add a K-9 officer and a K-9 to the team, in turn, increasing the department’s ability to utilize this unique role to keep Sacramento safe.” — Sacramento K-9 Officer Alexander Wagstaff.
On December 23rd, Ben announced two grant awards from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund. The Foundation distributed grants to the Flemington Borough Police Department in New Jersey, and the Town of Kent Police Department in New York, following the Steelers’ matchup against the New York Jets on December 22nd.
The Flemington Police Department would first like to thank Ben Roethlisberger and his great Foundation for their support. We are honored to have been selected for this grant. Without the Foundation, departments like ours would not be able to keep K-9 units operating. Our K-9 Unit which was formed in 2017, solely operates on fundraising and donations. This grant will be used to keep both of our K-9’s well-equipped and safe so that they can continue apprehending criminals and keep up with the fight against drugs in Flemington and surrounding communities. We are very appreciative and our K9’s Jax and Kita (pictured below) will benefit greatly.— Lieutenant William Soriano, Flemington Police Department.
The Town of Kent Police K-9 Unit is humbled by the generous grant for equipment from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. We are a small department and are consistently looking for ways to better serve our community without placing a larger tax burden on our residents. Our two dogs are a vital part of our department and our community; in the last several years they have tracked both endangered persons and criminal suspects, located evidence, conducted countless demos for community and school programs and have assisted our officers and surrounding departments with taking dangerous narcotics off the street. This grant will allow the unit to train more efficiently and also create a safer operational environment for our two K-9’s and their handlers.— Sergeant Alex VanderWoude, Town of Kent Police Department.
On December 5th, Ben announced a grant award from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund. The Foundation will be distributing a grant to the Glendale Police Department, in honor of the Steelers’ December 8th game against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Glendale Police will use the grant funds to replace one of several recently and soon-to-be retired police dogs.
“The Glendale Police Department is both honored and grateful for the grant award from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. With the premature retirement of a K-9 last year due to a line-of-duty injury, and the regular retirement of two K-9s this year, this much needed funding will help us to offset the costs to our K-9 Unit and will help the Police Department to continue to ensure the safety of our community. We would also like to recognize and thank the Citizen’s Police Academy Alumni of Glendale for their partnership and without whose help this endeavor would not be possible.” — Glendale Police Chief Chris Briggs.
On November 7th, Ben announced a grant award to the Los Angeles Police Department, in honor of the Steelers’ recent game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
The LAPD will use the grant funds to add a dog to their current unit of 24 canines.
During the 2019 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. Ben invited police and fire departments across the country to submit proposals detailing their needs.
“K-9 Platoon is an indispensable tool for the Los Angeles Police Department. K-9 Platoon conducts over 300 searches a year for felony suspects actively evading apprehension. K-9 Platoon tactics de-escalate tactical situations, preserve human life, reduce the intensity of tense encounters with violent, armed suspects and mitigate the need for a higher level of force. The City of Los Angeles does not purchase any canines for the unit. All canines are procured through private donations at the cost of approximately $10,000 each.” — Los Angeles Police Sergeant Scott Davis.
On September 5th, Ben announces the first grant award of the 2019 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
The Foundation will be distributing a grant to the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, north of Foxborough where the Steelers will play the Patriots on September 8th.
The Essex County Sheriff’s Department will use the grant funds to add a K-9 to their unit as they roll out plans to expand from 10 to 13 K-9 teams.
This marks the 13th season that Ben’s foundation has distributed grants to K-9 units. His mission is to support K-9 units of police and fire departments throughout the United States, with a particular emphasis on support for working dogs in Pittsburgh, PA.
The foundation distributed more than $145,000 in grants to K-9 units around the country during the 2018 NFL season, including $70,000 in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. The foundation has distributed in excess of $2.1 million since 2007, $1.7 million of which has specifically benefited K-9 programs domestically.
“The Sheriff’s Department thanks the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for their generous gift. In addition to providing additional security at our three facilities, K-9 units are extremely valuable when assisting narcotic detection, missing person searches, and responding to mutual aid calls. We appreciate the Roethlisberger Foundation’s commitment to assisting our Department and the communities we serve.” — Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger.
On March 4, 2019, Ben announced the final grants of the 2018-19 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund. The Foundation will be distributing eight grants totaling $70,000 to police K-9 programs in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.
“The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund was able to help us start our first K-9 program back around 2010. Since then, the Foundation has provided additional funding to support the program. Our K-9 ‘Ingo’ has been responsible for over $1.1 million in drug seizures over the past 8 to 9 years. Ingo is now reaching an age where he will retire by the end of March this year. The timing of this funding could not be any better due to Ingo’s retirement, who will live his retired life with his handler Sgt. Cindric. Thanks to The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, the Center Township Police Department will continue to have the tools we need in taking drugs off the streets of America.” — Chief Barry Kramer, Center Township Police Department.
The K-9 departments receiving funding from Ben’s foundation this year include the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office (above), Beaver County Sheriff’s Office, Center Township Police Department, Conewango Township Police Department, Connellsville Police Department, East Liverpool Police Department, City of McKeesport Police Department and Salineville Police Department. These departments will be utilizing their respective grants in a variety of canine-focused initiatives including the establishment of new K-9 units, replacement of retiring dogs, acquisition and updating of K-9 vehicles, purchasing of safety and training equipment, and training and certification of new and existing K-9s.
“Thanks to this grant, the Connellsville Police Department will be able to develop its first K-9 unit in approximately 40 years. Our K-9 will be available to the City of Connellsville and surrounding jurisdictions, working alongside other agencies in Fayette County, Pennsylvania to increase officer safety, combat the drug epidemic, and help forge relationships between police and the communities we serve. The Connellsville Police Department would like to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for its incredible support for our organization and others like us throughout the nation. This funding allows us to significantly enhance our law enforcement and public safety services in a timely manner.” — Patrolman James T. Garlick, City of Connellsville Police.
This announcement completes the foundation’s 12th grant cycle, during which it distributed 17 grants totaling more than $145,000 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. Last summer, Ben invited police and fire departments across the country to submit proposals detailing their needs.
“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.” — Sheriff Tony Guy, Beaver County Sheriff’s Office.
The mission of Ben’s foundation is to support K-9 units of police and fire departments throughout the United States, with a particular emphasis for service dogs in Pittsburgh, PA. The Foundation has distributed in excess of $2.1 million since 2007, $1.7 million of which has specifically benefited K-9 programs. In addition, Ben and hi foundation have hosted a number of events to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, his high school alma mater and other organizations close to his heart.
“I cannot say enough on behalf of the residents of Warren County, the appreciation we feel being accepted and awarded this extraordinary gift through this wonderful program. In June of 2018, our Warren County K-9 Officer died in a tragic training accident. As a rural county in northwestern Pennsylvania this K-9 Officer was ‘one of us’ and a loved member of our community; the loss was heartfelt by all. This award will not only allow the continuation of the K-9 program in Warren County, but open the possibilities for expansion to keep Warren County a safe place to visit and raise a family.” — Chief County Detective Brian K. Zeybel, Conewango Township Police Department.
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation is grateful for its generous supporters who have enabled it to maintain its K-9 grant program, including Pro Camps, as well as caring individual donors from around the country.
“The Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office and its hard-working K-9 Unit is profoundly grateful to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for its indispensable support. Our agency’s K-9s are devoted to their vital work upholding the safety of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and, most importantly, the thousands of citizens who visit facilities every year. Funds provided by the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation will ensure our K-9s receive the ultimate medical, nutritional and overall care, as the majority of these costly expenses are financed by donations and fundraiser proceeds.” — Sheriff William Mullen, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office.
“Thank you for awarding the Saline Police Department the 2019 Ben Roethlisberger Foundation K-9 grant. We are both humbled and honored to have been selected. Being a small community with limited financial resources, we often find that our needs surpass our available funding. The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation K-9 grant will help tremendously in meeting our goals of reestablishing the Salineville Police Department K-9 Program.” — Chief Matthew Devlin, Salineville Police Department.
On December 20th, Ben announced the ninth grant award of the 2018 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
His Foundation will be distributing a grant to the Kenner Police Department, west of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome where the Steelers will play the New Orleans Saints this Sunday, December 23th.
The Kenner Police Department plans to use the funds to purchase much needed training and safety equipment for their three-dog K-9 unit.
“With this generous grant, the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation will significantly assist and enhance the Kenner Police K-9 Unit’s ability in helping investigate and solve crimes while saving lives and making the City of Kenner a great place to live, work, and raise families. The Kenner Police Department appreciates and salutes the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation with its generous support of our two-legged and four-legged K-9 Officers who are invaluable in protecting our every day.” — Kenner Chief of Police Michael J. Glaser.
On December 6th, Ben announced the eighth grant award of the 2018 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
The Foundation will be distributing a grant to the Modesto Police Department, east of Oakland Alameda Coliseum where the Steelers will play the Raiders on December 9.
The Modesto Police Department will utilize the grant funds to update their K-9 training facility which is in need of some improvements, including agility equipment, secured housing for the K-9s, and general repair and maintenance.
“We are honored to be the recipient of this grant. Our K-9 training facility will be improved tremendously with the help of this money, thus improving the training not only for our K-9 Unit, but the other units who routinely use our facility for training.” — Sergeant Kalani Souza, Modesto Police Department, CA.
During the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, Ben announced the seventh grant award of the 2018 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
The Foundation will be distributing a grant to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, just outside of Mile High Stadium where the Steelers will play the Broncos on November 25th.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife will use the funds to purchase and train a K-9 for law enforcement detection work as well as canine-hard releases (hard release is a term for returning a wild animal to the wild, but giving the animal a definite dislike of humans and dogs).
“There are only 220 Wildlife Officers to patrol all of Colorado’s 104,185 square miles. However, thanks to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, a new addition will be added to their ranks; a trained K-9. This K-9 will not only aid in the apprehension of those who seek to exploit wildlife, but will also be trained in canine hard-releases on bears and mountain lions that have come into conflict with people. This non-lethal tool will serve to keep wildlife wild and keep people safe. Furthermore, the K-9 will serve as an ambassador for wildlife management to Colorado’s public. On behalf of the wildlife and the people of Colorado, I want to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for providing this opportunity!” — Wildlife Officer Ian Petkash.
On November 15th, Today, Ben announced the sixth grant award of the 2018 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
The Foundation will be distributing a grant to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, near TIAA Bank Field where the Steelers played the Jaguars on November 18th.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will utilize the grant to add a fully trained police dog to their K-9 unit.
“The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is very appreciative of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation’s approval of our grant request for a police service dog. This past year, our Canine Unit has suffered the loss of Police Service Dog ‘Fang’ who was killed in the line of duty following an armed carjacking on September 30, 2018. While the community has rallied around in support to honor ‘Fang,’ this award will provide the necessary resources for the acquisition of trained service animals to join our family and continue the pivotal work they do. On behalf of all the members of JSO and the city of Jacksonville, 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 Mike Williams.
The Foundation will be distributing grants to the Annapolis Police Department and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, both south of M&T Bank Stadium where the Steelers will play the Ravens on November 4th.
The Annapolis Police Department will utilize the grant to purchase needed safety equipment for their K-9 unit.
“This grant will be used to purchase two K-9 vests and an alarm system for a K-9 vehicle. These items are potentially lifesaving for our hardworking four-legged K-9 officers. We can’t thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation enough for this generous grant.” — Annapolis Chief of Police Scott Baker.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office plans to use the funds to replace a recently retired dog.
“As the Sheriff in Montgomery County, Maryland, it is my honor to acknowledge the generosity of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for this grant to our K-9 unit. The Roethlisberger Foundation grant will allow the Sheriff’s Office to continue to train specialized K-9 teams for the Sheriff’s Office and other affiliated law enforcement agencies in our region.” — Montgomery County Sheriff Darren M. Popkin.
On October 11th, the third grant of the 2018 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund was awarded.
The Foundation will be distributing a grant to the Villa Hills Police Department, just southwest of Paul Brown Stadium where the Steelers will play the Cincinnati Bengals on October 14th.
The Villa Hills Police Department plans to start a new K-9 unit with the grant funds.
“The Villa Hills Police Department is a Kentucky State Accredited Law Enforcement Agency that provides police services for the cities of Villa Hills and Crescent Springs in northern Kentucky. With the established location within mere minutes of the major metropolitan city of Cincinnati, Ohio and surrounded by the cities of Covington, Newport, and Florence, the Villa Hills Police Department determined the necessity to re-establish a K-9 Unit for the dual purpose of narcotic detection and search and rescue tracking. The Villa Hills Police Department has long been a highly professional agency with the highest of standards that facilitate and foster a growing community outreach and policing. With the K-9 Unit, the Villa Hills Police Department can provide the utmost level of law enforcement protection to its citizens and strive to meet its motto of Continuing Excellence.” — Villa Hills Police Sgt. Matthew R.B. Hall.
On September 24th, Ben announced the second grant award of the 2018 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
The Foundation will be distributing a grant to the Bradenton Police Department, located south of Raymond James Stadium where the Steelers will play the Buccaneers tonight.
The Bradenton Police Department will use the grant funds to purchase one fully trained dual purpose K-9 in order to expand their ability to remove illegal narcotics from the area. Their current K-9 unit consists of three K-9s and this grant will allow them to add the only drug interdiction and search and rescue K-9 to their team.
“This generous grant award will be used to purchase a new, fully-trained K-9 trained specifically in detecting narcotics and other harmful substances. Over the last several years, the City of Bradenton has unfortunately fallen victim to an unprecedented proliferation of opioid overdoses and deaths. Within the last year alone, the Bradenton Police Department has responded to 82 drug overdoses and nine suspected drug-related deaths.” — Chief Melanie Bevan, Bradenton Police Department.
The Foundation will be distributing a grant to the North Royalton Police Department, just south of Cleveland where the Steelers will play the Browns on September 9.
The North Royalton Police Department will use the grant funds to purchase a K-9 as well as a vest and kennels for the dog as they prepare to re-establish their K-9 unit.
This is the 12th season that Ben’s foundation has distributed grants to K-9 units. His mission 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.
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation distributed more than $170,000 in grants to K-9 units around the country during the 2017 NFL season, including $82,000 in the Pittsburgh community. The Foundation has distributed in excess of $1.92 million since 2007.
“The City of North Royalton and The North Royalton Police Department would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for awarding our Department this grant to fund a K-9 unit. This addition to our Police Department will assist us in continuing our mission of providing a safe community for visitors and residents. We truly appreciate the support shown to the Law Enforcement Community across the country by Mr. Roethlisberger and his Foundation.” — Bruce G. Campbell, North Royalton’s Director of Public Safety.
February 1, 2021: ‘Thank you Ben!’
Today Cisco (16) will be crossing over the rainbow bridge. As my heart breaks, I just wanted to ask if you could let those at the foundation know how remarkable he was and how much he was loved.
Thank you Ben – if it wasn’t for your foundation I may never have had the opportunity to have my life changed by Cisco Kidd!— Summer Anderson.
September 22, 2020: ‘Thank you’ to Big Ben!
The @_BigBen7 Foundation donated the funds to purchase & train K9 Samson in 2019. In a little over a year since getting certified, K9 Samson has aided Wildlife Officers in locating evidence in numerous poaching cases ranging from moose to trout & from mountain goat to pronghorn.
From Debbie Wachter, New Castle News:
If it weren’t for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the Shenango Township Police Department wouldn’t have a police canine.
Roethlisberger had a chance to meet Kalo, a 5-year-old, all-black German shepherd, face to face Wednesday during a massive food distribution at the Shenango Elementary School parking lot. The star player was there with his wife, Ashley, a Laurel High School graduate, to assist with the Trucks of Hope/Convoy of Hope/NOW venture to give away boxes and bags of food and other supplies to more than 1,500 people in a drive-through distribution.
Kalo, whose handler is Shenango Township patrolman Dan Tressler, was on site to meet Roethlisberger while the distribution was under way.
The police department acquired Kalo from the Shallow Creek Kennels in South Pymatuning Township, Mercer County. He was paid for with funds from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, founded by Roethlisberger, which disperses grants to police and fire department canine units throughout the United States.
Kalo was born in Hungary, and answers to a variety of commands in English, German and Czechoslovakian, Tressler said. He is trained for patrol and for narcotics detective.
“This was the first time they ever met,” Tressler said.
The township police department received grant of about $14,000 to $14,500 for the dog, which also covered the cost of his training, he said. He’s had the dog in his care since 2016.
“It was great that he helped us out,” Tressler said of Roethlisberger, “because I don’t know if we could have afforded it otherwise.”
Kalo is the only canine officer on the Shenango police force.
K9 Unit 7 is now on duty! From the Connellsville Police K9 Unit on April 23, 2019:
“Our new K9 vehicle recently lettered by local business, ‘De-Zigns’ Signs and Decals.”
“The vehicle has been provided for our use by the Fayette County Bureau of Investigations and District Attorney’s Office.”
This marks a significant step forward in the development of the Connellsville Police K9 Unit.
From the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website on January 21, 2019:
Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be adding a third certified K-9 to its pilot program and it is all thanks to the generosity of NFL two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
CPW already has two K-9’s in a pilot program to see how dogs can be used for law enforcement and wildlife management. Last Thursday, Samson, an 18-month old Belgian Malinois, began his month-long training to become a certified law enforcement K-9 that will partner with Ian Petkash, wildlife officer for the Lake George District.
Petkash received a $12,000 grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund back in November when Roethlisberger’s Pittsburgh Steelers played in Denver. The funds CPW received will be used to purchase and train Samson.
“This K-9 will not only aid in the apprehension of those who seek to exploit wildlife, but will also be trained in canine hard-releases on bears and mountain lions that have come into conflict with people,” Petkash said. “This non-lethal tool will serve to keep wildlife wild and keep people safe. Furthermore, the K-9 will serve as an ambassador for wildlife management to Colorado’s public. On behalf of the wildlife and the people of Colorado, I want to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for providing this opportunity.”
CPW enlisted Johnson’s K9 out of Colorado Springs to search for and purchase the dog, which was obtained from a private breeder in Texas. Johnson’s K9 will also be administering the training for Samson and Petkash.
Samson’s responsibilities will focus on assisting Petkash with law enforcement detection work as well being used as an experiment on hard-releases for bears and mountain lions.
Samson will be trained to detect the scent of nine different wildlife species – bears, deer, elk, moose, mountain lions, pronghorn, trout, upland birds and waterfowl. He will also be a tool used by wildlife officers in the negative reinforcement of bears and mountain lions that CPW relocates following conflicts with people.
The other two K-9’s already enlisted in CPW’s pilot program are Sci, a Dutch Shepherd partnered since 2015 with wildlife officer Philip Gurule in Area 14, and Cash, a black Labrador partnered with wildlife officer Brock McArdle in Area 4 since 2017.
Certified with the National Police Canine Association for handler protection, fugitive apprehension and various wildlife species odor detection, Cash and Sci are working hard to help protect Colorado’s natural resources and all of those who enjoy them. Samson will help further that mission once he gets his law enforcement training completed over the course of the next month. Additional training on the bear and mountain lion hard releases will be dependent on live situational training’s throughout the springtime months.
Since CPW’s K-9 program is in a pilot stage, it relies almost entirely on public donations for funding. The funds support continual training’s for the wildlife officers and their K-9 partners, cost of food, boarding, veterinary services, maintenance and training equipment.
From WFMJ, News Channel 21 on March 20, 2018:
The newest recruit of the Beaver Township Police Department is off studying to be a canine crime fighter extraordinaire.
Argo, the department’s new K-9, is undergoing special training in Toledo where he and his handler, K-9 Handler Officer Chris Albert, will learn the tools they need to operate as a crime-fighting duo.
With Argo coming into the department, the township’s former K-9 Officer, Hero, can retire.
Argo and Officer Albert are expected to be ready to hit the ground running in approximately 2 months, following training, and Argo’s swearing-in.
On February 10th of 2018, we received an email & links to a story & video from Lt. Ransweiler of the El Cajon Police Department in California about one of Ben’s “Foundation dogs”:
“We were blessed with a grant from the Foundation to purchase Jester. Jester and his handler have recently gone viral and I wanted your program to at least be aware of how your contribution was effecting our community and our department in a positive way. Thank you very much!” — Rob Ransweiler, Administrative Lieutenant, ITP/IA/PIO, El Cajon Police Department.
The story from NBC San Diego by Danielle Radin:
The K9 is making waves on Instagram with hundreds of thousands of followers
The K9 with the El Cajon Police Department who is going viral online.
The 4-year-old Belgian Malinois has been with officer Jordan Walker since 2015. Jester lives with officer Walker at his home and the two are inseparable.
Officer Walker noticed that Jester is a special dog who had qualities people might like, so he started an Instagram account for him.
The account now has nearly 120,000 followers!
Fans can see videos of Jester as well as pictures of him dressed up in adorable hats, from Krispy Kreme to reindeer antlers.
But don’t be fooled by his adorable charm, officers warn. Jester has been through the general Police Service Dog Academy as well as the Narcotics Academy, making him a fully trained crime-fighting machine.
You can watch a video of Jester from Joe Little at Channel 10 news in San Diego here.
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!
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:
…or at least on guard!!
— CPW NE Region (@CPW_NE) April 13, 2020
Samson became a member of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Agency in January of 2019 through a grant from Ben’s foundation!
From Rita Michel at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on May 29, 2018:
Sharpsburg Mayor Matt Rudzki has sworn in the newest member of the borough police department — one of the four-legged variety.
K-9 Officer Jango will be working with Officer Jeff Hussar, who said he has fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming the department’s K-9 officer’s handler.
“I greatly appreciate it,” Officer Hussar said at council’s May 24 meeting.
A gift from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, as well as local donations helped bring in Jango, the vehicle that transports him and his training at Shallow Creek Kennels.
Photo: Michael M. Santiago
And from Mike Gauntner at WFMJ-Channel 21 on May 29, 2018:
Beaver Township Police have a new partner to help them track down drugs and fight other crimes.
Argo, the department’s new K-9, has completed training, according to his handler Officer Chris Albert who adds that they’ve already made one arrest.
Police were able to add Argo to the force after receiving a grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
The donation not only allowed the police department to replace its aging K-9 Hero but allowed an officer to become certified to train dogs from neighboring agencies in the future.
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.
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 6th, 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 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.
“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.