- Hidden Hometown Heroes
Honoring the heroic efforts of those in our community.
Congratulation to Sister Kathleen Atkinson, Gary Braun, Dustin Hollevoet, Tim Kellar, Katie Oakland, and Sherrice Roness!
On the morning of November 19, 2018, tragedy struck the Bismarck-Mandan community.
Three medical professionals were tragically killed in a plane bound for Williston.
The Bismarck Air Medical paramedic, pilot and registered nurse aboard the plane left a lasting impact on the lives of their fellow co-workers, friends and family.
This unexpected tragedy, gave birth to hundreds of stories emphasizing how powerful and inspirational these three individuals, really were.
To honor their legacies and the continued efforts of other unsung heroes — Scheels, the Larks and Bismarck Magazine have joined forces to recognize extraordinary hidden hometown heroes in our local community.
We were overwhelmed by worthy nominations in this year’s Hidden Hometown Hero stories.
We selected the 18 people that truly embody what it means to be a hidden hero. These people are all worthy of praise for their selfless acts. Check out who won the honor below. Their full stories are available in the latest edition of Bismarck Magazine.
You voted for and selected the people you thought were the standouts of the group. We had a ton of people vote and every one of our 18 heros had a lot of support. The standouts you chose were:
- Sister Kathleen Atkinson
- Gary Braun
- Dustin Hollevoet
- Tim Kellar
- Katie Oakland
- Sherrice Roness
These great people will be acknowledged at Larks games and again by Bismarck Magazine.
2019 Hidden Hometown Heroes Nominees
“Scheels is honored to partner up with the Larks and Bismarck Magazine on this 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 aligns perfectly with the Scheels culture. It gives us a platform to say ‘Thank You’ to the special men and women in our community, and 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
Katherine Pendergast, Pet Therapy
Before Carmela, the thought of pet therapy had never even crossed Katherine Pendergast’s mind. In fact, Katherine didn’t even know it existed. What prompted the idea was when Carmela was a puppy, she had a strong love for people. “I felt like she had a special connection with strangers, especially kids. Children can be unpredictable, with loud noises, but she just always did great with unpredictable situations and big crowds. This made me believe that she was destined to do something,” says Katherine.
Al Wolf, Varius Non-Profits
Al Wolf reached 88 years of life last month, he has used most of those years helping causes far beyond what was expected. Al has a spirit of giving and made time for numerous charities and special causes. He’s been a member of the Bismarck Knights of Columbus since 1960 and a member of the Bismarck Rotary since 1968. He was instrumental in welcoming the first women into Rotary. “When they wouldn’t give women cards, I went to the head of Rotary in Chicago and demanded they were admitted. I left with their cards and delivered them to the three ladies in Bismarck,” says Al.
Ron Staiger, Bismarck Event Center
Ron Staiger has been working for over 30 years at the Bismarck Event Center as the liaison between the event center and the promoter. Whether the promoter is a famous musician, traveling tour, rodeo, or sports team, Ron fulfills their requests. Ron goes above and beyond simply doing his job for every project he manages. Governor Dalrymple has recognized Ron for all the extra work he’s done and awarded him the ‘Love North Dakota’ license plate. This honor is given to individuals who have significantly helped the governor during their time in office.
Sue Skalicky, Author
Sue was a journalist for about 32 years. She taught English and Journalism at Century and Legacy High School until 2017 when she resigned to write her first book, Change for a Penny. The book is a self-help memoir that deals with telling the story of your past and future. The idea was sparked from a defining moment in Sue’s life. A survivor of sexual abuse, she struggled with her past. In 2001, Sue was having a low day when she decided to pick up a penny from the ground. It was dirty and damaged, but this penny made Sue realize, “No matter what life looks like, what I’ve done, how I feel right now, my life is as redeemable now as it was the day God created me.”
Gary Braun, NICU Sanford
Gary Braun has been volunteering practically his entire adult life. Ever since his boys were in Cub Scouts, he has been giving his time to those in need, and even making it a family affair. From his boys to his wife, he has been leading the family by example and volunteering with them side by side. He and his wife now spend their hours rocking babies in the NICU at Sanford, giving parents time to step away and shower or give the babies some extra love.
Dave Reich, Runners Against Destructive Decisions (RADD)
District court judge Dave Reich has been a judge since 2006. “When I started, most criminal cases involved drugs and alcohol. Typically, when these people come to court, they either plead guilty or are found guilty. After watching this for years Judge Reich decided something needed to happen to break the cycle of crime, courts and jail. Judge Reich started RADD in 2014. The Santa Run started as an event that RADD participants could take ownership of.
Pamela Scherf, Welcome House
The Welcome House is a family homeless shelter started in 2005. It can shelter up to four families at a time and requires that families have children under the age of 18. “The kids are our number one priority,” says Pamela. While staying at the home families are provided with weekly case management, assistance in finding a job, permanent housing, and three meals a day along with two snacks. Pamela goes above and beyond for every single family at the Welcome House.
Emily Brown, Charity Lutheran Church
Emily’s day job is the Middle School Director at Charity Lutheran Church that covering the events and programming for middle schoolers. For the past year and a half, Emily spends her Sunday mornings on a bus traveling to low income areas picking up kids for church. “We get to know these kids’ stories and families. It all started with one kid and now on an average Sunday we’ll have 75 kids. We have three busses going and we have our routes and the kids will be waiting to hop on,” explains Emily. Through the God’s Child project Emily has been to Guatemala twice to help build a home for a family in need.
Sherrice Roness, Students in Transition Program
The Students in Transition program offers extra service for kids who are in transition (struggling with finding a permeant home). These services are available all year long, some of these services include, providing backpacks and school supplies, winter gear, free breakfast, and lunch for the year, fees to help pay for any educational services, and a large part of the program is working to supply transportation. “It’s so important to make sure these children have stability in their lives, especially when it comes to their education. Many times their lives are turned upside down, so keeping them in their same school can make a big difference,” shares Sherrice.
Anna Marie Aeschliman, Volunteer Baker for The Banquet
Anna Marie has been a baker her entire life. Since she was a little girl, she and her sisters would bake beside their mother. Her baking passion has become a passion for giving back. Anna Marie not only bakes for our beloved police officers, but once a month she bakes over 300 cookies for The Banquet through Trinity Lutheran. She also looks for any and every opportunity to bake for benefits, bake sales and fundraisers. She volunteers at the Salvation Army and Sunrise Homeless Shelter, bringing everyone a treat. “My philosophy is everyone needs a cookie,” winks Anna Marie.
Sister Kathleen Atkinson, Ministry at the Margins
Sister Kathleen, sister at the Annunciation Monastery at the University of Mary, is one of a kind, and a giver like no other. After only a few minutes, her passion for helping others and those less fortune, shines through. Only five years ago, Sister Kathleen and a small group of people, who had been involved with prison ministry, decided to start Ministry on the Margins. “There is a huge gap from those being released from prison and entering society again. Ministry on the Margins is committed to supporting those who fall through the cracks during the time of transition from prison to community member,” expresses Sister Kathleen.
Rick Schuchard, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Rick Schuchard, district manager for the parole and probation division, supervises the probation officers and supporting staff. Officer Schuchard has worked in this industry for over 32 years and his experience is vast and his passion for his job is evident. “It’s truly a team effort, I am honored to be nominated, but I speak for our whole team. It’s not just us, but many people in the criminal justice system that do not get recognized. We work in the shadows, as people are tucked into bed at night, there are parole officers up on call at night, doing an arrest, working with a client, making sure someone doesn’t overdose. Things like that happen every night,” explains officer Schuchard.
Laura Rysavys, Bismarck Public Library
For the last three years Laura Rasavy, Team Program Coordinator at the Bismarck Public Library has worked primarily with middle school and high school students. “I provide them with an opportunity for their voices to be heard in the library, give them fun things to do, and to help them realize that the library isn’t just books anymore. We are way more than that.” Laura helps coordinate Biscon which is Bismarck’s premier pop culture convention in its third year. “We give people a chance to come out and show their love of fandom and nerd out with people who love the same things they do, dress up in costumes,” says Laura.
Dustin Hollevoet, Hollevoet Orthodontics
“I get to know my patients and sometimes bad things happen to them. It bothers me, so I do various things for them,” explains Dustin, the owner of Hollevoet Orthodontics. “The best, simplest way to put this is I don’t like seeing people unhappy. I’m lucky to do stuff like this every day,” says Dustin. Hunter Seifert was his patient and when he became sick with cancer, Dustin did what he always does. “I picked him up and we did guy things, things to make him forget about his two-and-a-half-year battle. Hunter wanted to shoot a big deer, so we did that. Things we did together were nothing outside the realm of normal.”
Tim Kellar, Santa Dash
Tim has played Santa since 1981 but nine years ago as a way to give back to the community, in particular kids who otherwise wouldn’t get a Christmas, Tim and his wife Brenda started the Santa Dash. It started with just a few families each season and it has since grown to bring enough joy and holiday spirit to about a dozen families per year. The Freedom Riders Motorcycle club is an integral part of the operation. They club gets wish lists from children with their names, clothing size, and what presents they would like so when the kids open their gifts from Santa it is exactly what they wanted.
Thea Jorgensen, Chapter Captain for Red, White & Blue
Thea is the owner of Thea Ward Fitness, she is a National Guard member, and a volunteer rockstar. When she sleeps, no one knows. Thea is a loving wife and proud auntie of two. She is a board member for numerous organizations including 31:8 Project, Welcome House, Veterans Outdoors Adventures, she is a public speaker for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Chapter Chair for Team Red, White and Blue, to name a few. “My two biggest passions are veterans and mental health advocacy,” explains Thea.
Sue Buchholz, Director of Central Dakota Humane Society
Since 1994, Sue Buchholz has been working at the Humane Society helping care for animals. Now the shelter’s director, she humbly explains, “My work is not about me, I’m just lucky enough to do something that I love.” The Central Dakota Humane Society is a no kill shelter meaning the animals staying there don’t have a time limit. They stay there until they find a home. Sue says this means their shelter can help with cases other shelters simply cannot due to a lack of money or time.
REX With Owner Katie Oakland, TR4 Heart & Soul Therapeutic Riding Center
TR4 Heart & Soul is a non-profit that looks to improve the quality of life in all areas for adults and children with disabilities. “Our mission is to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities through the heart and soul of a horse,” says Katie. It was a ten-year dream of Katie’s to give people with disabilities a safe place to be themselves and give them the chance to make the impossible, possible. “Here at TR4 Heart & Soul we cater to everyone, people with Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, Autism, behavioral issues, and social anxiety. What is truly amazing about these horses is that they are always present,” says Katie.