Sheep Dog Impact Assistance will be able to help more veterans and first responders Get Off the Couch after the sold-out Heroes Gala on April 22 at the Rogers Convention Center.
"Tonight is a night of celebration -- of what we are and what we've accomplished this year and the past 13 years," SDIA founder and CEO retired Sgt. Major of the Marine Corps Lance Nutt told guests.
"Through our Get Off The Couch™ programming, Sheep Dog Impact Assistance (SDIA) is the national nonprofit providing charitable services benefiting the overall well-being of our nation's veterans and first responders through Outdoor Adventures (physical activity), Warrior PATHH training (mental wellness) and Continued Service/Disaster Response (volunteerism) programs," leaders say.
David Guggina, Walmart executive vice president, supply chain, served as the benefit's honorary chairman. Stuart Rowland, Army veteran and founder of Stu's Clean Cookin', was guest speaker and Coffey Anderson provided musical entertainment.
The evening's program included lauding heroes, supporters and Sheep Dog of the Year honorees. This year's class are:
Military -- Don Redondo, of Middletown, N.J., was an Iraq Army Infantry Combat Medic with the 3rd Infantry Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom and served for four years. He is the founder of the Redondo Foundation nonprofit organization for veterans, which has a "multi-faceted nonclinical approach to help veterans with post-traumatic growth and wellness."
Law Enforcement -- Adele O'Rourke began her law enforcement career as a patrol officer with the Renton (Wash.) Police Department in 2016, was promoted to detective in 2019 and works in the Personal Investigations Division with the Sexual Assault Unit and Internet Crimes Against Children. She received the 2021 Renton Police Department Meritorious Service Medal. She is working to become a Sheep Dog Impact Assistance Warrior PATTH (Progressive and Alternative Training for Helping Heroes) guide.
Fire & Rescue -- Cassandra Christy of the Rapid City (S.D.) Fire Department was the first woman to graduate from the Western Dakota Technical Fire Science program in 2012. She went on to work with the South Dakota Wildfire Division for four years. She is a licensed paramedic, is certified in hazardous materials and is the only Rapid City firefighter to have attended the Advanced Life Support Response to Hazardous Materials class at the National Fire Academy. She received the Department of South Dakota's Fire Fighter of the Year Award for 2022.
EMS -- Jack Wassman retired from the Rogers Fire Department in 2020 after 25 years of service. Shortly before retirement, he volunteered with the Pea Ridge Fire Department and was hired as their chief in 2019 but stepped down in 2021 due to health reasons. He continues to serve the community as a paramedic with Northwest Health.
Other awards presented that evening included:
Co-sponsors of the Year -- Walmart and Veterans United Foundation;
Cpl. Nick Perales Commitment Award -- Dare Devil Display Works;
Cpl. Sebastian Gallegos Outstanding Service Award -- Paschal Air, Plumbing & Electric;
Community Partner of the Year -- Hull Dermatology & Aesthetics; and
Founders Award -- Sam's Furniture.
For more event photos -- nwadg.com/photos/society.
Columnist Carin Schoppmeyer can be reached by email at [email protected].