Hidden Hometown Heroes


“Scheels is honored to partner up with the Larks and Bismarck Magazine on another great community event.  Hidden Hometown Heroes is an opportunity for us to give back to the community in a very unique way, showcasing some of the many people that make the Bismarck/Mandan area so great.  This program aligned perfectly with Scheels culture as it gave us a platform to say ‘Thank You’ to these special men and women but also highlights the simple act of kindness and the powerful affect it can have on others.” – Tyler Halm,  Vice President and Store Manager, Scheels Bismarck

“Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.”

– Babe Ruth

We all remember our  childhood sports heroes. While our childhood sports heroes often get the most recognition, it’s those Hidden Hometown Heroes in our lives and communities that make the deepest impact. There are so many making a difference right here in Bismarck. It’s rarely fun or recognized, but these Hidden Hometown Heroes do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Together, The Larks, Bismarck Magazine and Scheels want to recognize some of our community’s Hidden Hometown Heroes. While there are too many to count, together we’ve identified 25 individuals giving back right here in Bismarck.

Read ahead and you’ll meet – and be inspired – by these Hidden Hometown Heroes. We’re not stopping there. Scheels, Bismarck Magazine and the Bismarck Larks want to spend the summer celebrating them on the ballfield as well.

Now, this is where we need your help.

Out of these 25 Hidden  Hometown Heroes, we need you to pick six finalists who will be recognized in a legendary way. Vote for your 2018 Scheels Hometown Hidden Hero right here from May 1st – May 29th. The final six will be announced on our website Monday, June 4th.

Thank you for helping us turn these heroes into legends!


(Make sure to read their full stories in Bismarck Magazine!)


Alexis Thompson

Alexis Thompson : Miss Pre-Teen Flickertail State International 2018

Alexis is only ten years old and her volunteer work and community involvement goes above and beyond the average pre-teen. Alexis is a Bismarck native, and looks to spread cheer and happiness everywhere she goes. Beyond her volunteer work throughout the community, Alexis chose a unique platform, as a pageant contestant, Choose Happiness. “I chose my platform because I believe that happiness is always knocking on your door and you just have to let it in. I am on a mission to spread sunshine and smiles,” exclaims Alexis. (Read more)


Baron Blanchard


Baron Blanchard: Social Studies Teacher, Fellowship for Christian Athletes Club Leader

Baron Blanchard goes above and beyond in his service with children. He primarily works with those children between the ages of 12-15 years old. During the day he spends his time educating children in social studies and after school leads youth in their faith formation and fellowship through Fellowship for Christian Athletes Club Leader.  “Fellowship for Christian Athletes Club, is for any student looking for any type of Christian fellowship, it’s a way that they can express their Christian faith through prayer and bible study in a public school setting,” says Baron. (Read more)


Bill Cleary

Bill Cleary: Citizens of the World

Citizens of the World is an organization that works with educational opportunities in Haiti, specifically anesthesia. Bill is an anesthesiologist and his co-founder of the nonprofit Laura is a nurse anesthetist. “I had gone to Haiti five years prior to starting the foundation but when we were there we would go for a week, work, but when we left there was nobody to continue on. We were not creating a sustainable environment we were just putting band aides on,” says Bill. Therefore, Citizens of the World was started. “We knew that if we could teach the nurse anesthetist and anesthesia residents in Haiti then we could have people there all the time that could become us,” says Bill. (Read more)


Brandi Jude

Brandi Jude: Invisible Innocence

Invisible Innocence is a nonprofit that Brandi started to help support the needs of those who survive human trafficking and promote healthy dialogue around the issue itself.Witnessing various forms of labor trafficking since high school in both North Dakota and while she was abroad spurred Brandi to get involved. When she returned after being abroad she had all the intentions of heading back to help combat human sex trafficking in third world countries. “When I got back I learned that North Dakota didn’t even have a law saying it was illegal, human sex trafficking was still a legal form of slavery,” says Brandi. Brandi then dove into research and from that Invisible Innocence started in 2005 and they were granted 501(c)3 (nonprofit) status in 2016. (Read more)


Brenda Lipp

Brenda Lipp: Special Ed Department-School Phycologist 

Brenda Lipp is a Bismarck Public School Physiologist in the Special Ed department. She works with many children all across the community, their families and teachers. Her job is to try and help children by designing interventions and appropriate programming so children can reach their maximum potential. “My favorite part of the job is the kids. I love the kids,” expresses Brenda. She has been counseling for over 34 years in this district and has worked and helped thousands of children and families. “I am already on to the next generation of children, laughs Brenda, I just love watching these kids grow up and seeing how wonderful they have become.” (Read more)


Cherie Sanstead: Harmony Stables

Cherie Sanstead

Horses and humans have been working together for hundreds of years.  It’s the gifts the horse innately has is where all the magic happens and drives Cherie to go above and beyond as “matchmaker” between the two.  Horses teach us how to be better at living in balance, working as a team, being better at relationships and just being more authentic and grounded in general.   Harmony Stables offers a unique “organic classroom” to learn these and other life lessons. They host kids from behavioral and addiction treatment centers, adults in recovery, corporate groups for workshop retreats, and Veterans and their families. “Seeing people experience true joy, relaxation, contentment and release of fear is what drives me to continue to provide a place of solace and joy for so many,” says Cherie. (Read more)


Lucas Mansmith, Rachel Roehrich, Trey Shereck

Lucas Mansmith, Rachel Roehrich, Trey Shereck: Century High School, Sources of Strength Leadership Group

The CHS Sources of Strength Leadership Group is a newer club that focuses on brining awareness to the issues and difficulties kids face today in high school and early youth. Their first project this past year focused on spreading empathy through their school and community. This leadership group uses art to spread their positive message and grow awareness for these issues. This spring they are working on a photography project that will help diminish labels, labels that students give themselves and labels that others impose on one another.  “We really focus on spreading a positive message. This club is new, but it is already becoming very effective. Other schools have asked us to come and present on our different projects in hopes to start their own leadership club and spread the positivity,” expresses Rachel. (Read more)


Doreen Brown

Doreen Brown: Waiting room volunteer, Bismarck Cancer Center

Doreen has been helping at the Bismarck Cancer Center in the waiting room ever since she was diagnosed with and beat cancer. The center was a huge part of her story and she loves the opportunity to give back. Doreen volunteers by visits with the patients, or the family and friends who are there to support the patient. She keeps the waiting room snacks stocked and is just there if anyone needs a kind hand. “When I just sit down at the puzzle they are working on it will start a conversation. For a lot of them it has been a long day. says Doreen of her days at the center. (Read more)


Tyler Bennett

Tyler Bennett: Veterinarian, Missouri Valley Veterinary Clinic

Missouri Valley Veterinary Clinic serves animals from cats and dogs to cows, horses and even goats and sheep and some exotic animals too. The clinic is home to 14 veterinarians and is proud to be servicing this community for the past 36 years. Dr. Tyler Bennett, a passionate vet at the clinic, has dedicated his professional life to serving animals of all shapes and sizes. “Ever since I was in 4th grade I knew I wanted to be a vet. I love animals and greatly enjoy the medicine behind it,” says Dr. Bennett. (Read more)


Duan Aman

Duane Aman: Volunteer Driver, Bismarck Cancer Center

Duane started driving for RSVP in 2011 bringing patients to the Bismarck Cancer Center for their appointments. In 2012 his wife was diagnosed with lymphoma and in 2103 he was diagnosed with colon cancer. He decided to take some time off with all the traveling to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. After his wife’s passing in August of 2015 Duane decided to get back behind the wheel. “I told her I would keep up as long as I could driving others to treatment,” says Duane.On average, he gives 30 rides a month free of charge. (Read more)


Gordon Matthiesen

Gordon Matthiesen: Tracys Sanctuary House

It was 2005 and Gordons wife Charlotte heard that a place called Tracy’s Sanctuary House was opening and that they were having an open house so people could come see what it was about and take a tour of the home. When they arrived, they found out that the person who was taking care of the yard work for the home could no longer do it. “My wife ended up volunteering us, she knew that I would go along with it, and I have been doing it ever since,” says Gordon. (Read more)



April Lund : Get You Some Track Club Coach

April Lund

April Lund moved to Bismarck only three years ago, and she’s already made this community a better and healthier place. “I was an alcoholic and 70 pounds heavier than I am today. It was a time in my life that I realized I needed to get my health back. I could always rely on two things in my life God and running,” explains April. She didn’t know anyone and had no friends, but understood that her health needed to come first. She just started running and wanted to be faster. I started my own in Bismarck. I called it “Get You Some Track Club” because I wanted to create a positive environment where people could experience motivation, encouragement, strength, inclusion and love through others. Our club is for everyone, size, shape, weight, disability doesn’t matter,” exclaims April. (Read more)


Mark and Mary Meier

Mark and Mary Meier: Heaven Helpers Soup Café

In 2009 Mark felt a calling from the Lord to quit his job and start a café for those less fortunate. Heavens Helpers Soup Café was started from this calling. This is a diner where people can come in, seat themselves for a meal. Volunteers serve these men and women with respect and dignity. The menu includes a couple homemade soups and sandwiches per day. There is a dessert bar with hot coffee served alongside. (Read more)


Bismarck Fire Department


Bismarck Fire Department 

These firefighters are every day heroes deservedly celebrated for courageously doing their job. What is not as public and not as headline making is the way Bismarck firefighters are making a difference in our community in ways that have little to do with putting out fires, but are just as impactful. One of Fire Captain Joey Vander Vliet’s favorite ways to get out into our community is through fire safety education. “We like to educate the public on fire safety in many ways,” Vander Vliet explains “Public education in our schools and basic fire safety to keep families protected are just a few of tΩhe ways we can make a difference.” (Read more)


Julie Schirado

Julie Schirado : Furry Friends Rockin’ Rescue

Julie Schriado is the founder of Furry Friends Rockin’ Rescue, a non-profit that focuses on helping animals find a home. This organization is completely volunteer run and was founded to help alleviate animal euthanasia within impounds. Julie is so passionate about her love for animals and you can tell. Her work started long ago by volunteering at the Central Dakota Humane Society. Julie how many of the impounds were too full and was shocked by the euthanizing of animals. In 2015 she began the Furry Friends Rockin’ Rescue, and helping animals become fostered and adopted by loving and caring families. (Read more)


Lauryn Hinckley: United Way, Peanut Butter and Jelly Drive

Lauryn Hinckley

When Lauryn was nine-years-old she witnessed a family with two young boys unable to afford their groceries. From then on, she noticed that childhood hunger was running ramped in our community and she needed to help make a change. One of the more expensive items is jars of peanut butter and jelly. They also provide lots of nutrients and are non-perishable. “We are very fortunate to put peanut butter on our toast in the mornings but that is not feasible for some of these children,” says Lauryn.  This spurred her to start a drive for these two items. In the last seven years her team has raised over $71,000 and fed over 19,000 meals. (Read more)


Lea Black: The Human Atlas of Bismarck

Lea Black

Lea grew up in a community in northern Idaho that was majority Caucasian. From about 8 years old Lea was fascinated with any culture outside her own. “What you might be surprised to learn is that Bismarck is actually the most diverse place I have ever lived. The breadth of cultures represented here is astounding,” says Lea. With her project called the Human Atlas of Bismarck Lea plans to bring the different cultures together and become aware of each other, to show that these other cultures really are contributing to our community and give a platform for that. (Read more)




Michelle Westbrock: Inner Ground Work 

Michelle Westbrock

Michelle Westbrock is the brains behind the up and coming non-profit, Inner Ground Work (501c3 status being processed). Inner Ground Work’s mission is to build up safety, resilience and emotional intelligence in our community by creating tools and educational pieces for teachers and parents. “My goal is to provide services and skill building for teachers and parents to help children with social behavior, decrease bullying and self-harm,” says Michelle.(Read more)


Corey and Rachael Fifer

Corey and Rachael Fifer: Refuge Church

Pastor Corey and is wife Rachael have a passion for helping those struggling with addictions. “I have always had a love for people. That’s where this all stems from. Years ago I felt called to be a pastor and in my prayer life I always knew I had a desire to help people who are hurting, down and out and struggling,” says Corey. Racheal feels the exact same way, why which is why these to make such a giving couple. “Seeing people find hope that they didn’t have before, and the joy they now have is so motivating,” says Rachael. (Read more)



Tom Marcis: Pastor at Zion Lutheran Church

Tom Marcis

Tom has been a resident of Bismarck for 29 years and a minister at Zion Lutheran for 32 years.The Zion congregation has been working with Bismarck High School on starting a mentorship program called Impact One. They take 35-40 kids and meet with them once a month individually to help them with any needs they have. That’s not all, Tom also does some chaplaincy at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch twice a week meeting with people one on one. The reason Tom has been so involved in today’s youth is because he wants to give them that positive reinforcement. His pet peeve is when adults think that young kids are miniature adults but in fact they are not. “Getting to know them and being honest with them and giving them positive examples while being interested in their lives makes a big difference,” says Tom. (Read more)


Raymond Morrell: Veteran and Chairman of the 1940s USO Night

Raymond Morrell

Raymond Morrell is a hero not only for the Bismarck/Mandan/Lincoln community, but our entire country. Raymond has spent his life fighting for the freedom of the United States, serving from 1986-1992. Raymond is extremely passionate about supporting our country and those who fight for it. He served his last two years as an instructor for the Marine Corps and is now an active member of the Dakota Leathernecks and the chairman of the 1940s USO Night, a charity event held in recognition of Armed Forces Day and to support local veterans in need. (Read more)




Robert Olzweski : Vietnam Veteran

Robert Olzweski

Robert was born in a little town called Sanger, North Dakota. In April of 1967 Robert entered the Military. He then spent a year in Vietnam. On the morning of March 7th, 1969 Roberts Army unit started receiving incoming rounds from the enemy.  Roberts unit was ordered to move out to see where the rounds were coming from. They located the enemy in the mountains.  They then started to receive heavy small arms fire and APG rounds. Robert was shot in the side, and wounded in his left leg and portion of his back. When the fire fight was finally over a medic saw blood running down Roberts leg. “Within a week I was patched up and returned to my unit for more combat duty,” explains Robert. (Read more)


Randi and Scott Oothoudt: Brave the Shave  

Randi and Scott Oothoudt

Randi and Scott Oothoudt are the parents of Kullen (Kully) Oothoudt, who past away in August, 2017. “His life has great purpose, and maybe this is it, maybe this is what we were called to do, to raise awareness for pediatric, childhood cancer. We have committed ourselves to raising awareness through Brave the Shave,” describes Randi.Both Randi and Scott have dedicated their lives to raising awareness, supporting and helping the organization of Brave the Shave.(Read more)





Stacy Schaffer: 31:8 Project

Stacy Schaffer

Proverbs 31:8 says “speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves” from this comes the primary focus of the 31:8 Project. By spreading awareness of human trafficking “We want to equip the general public to be the eyes and the ears in the community because we know that they are out and about seeing things. If you don’t have the right tools and resources how do you know how to approach the issue of human trafficking,” says Stacy. (Read more)


Susan Schwieters: Lillians

  Susan Schwieters

“I think back to almost 10 years ago and I wonder why did I started Lillians, it wasn’t because I had retail on my radar, was thinking more about hospitality, says Susan. She started to do little fundraisers also known as “Diva Nights” where she would give back a percentage of sales to the cause. “The events were not raising thousands of dollars but we were gathering a group of women together. Friends of a woman who was sick or if they were making a trip for treatment. The money we would raise in a night wasn’t going to change much but the social healing was a big part of it,” says Susan. These nights proved that you can gather friends together to say we are behind you, hoping it would give the person courage to wake up the next morning and keep trying. (Read more)