Wisconsin Heroes


  • February, 2014

    Barbara Knopf of La Valle, WI

    For years, Barbara Knopf has been running Luvs Morgan Horse Rescue with funding from gracious donations and her own pocket. She and her husband have poured their heart and soul into every horse that they have rescued from starvation, abuse, and neglect. These rescued horses have in turn rescued veterans through a non-profit weekend program called Veterans Equine Trail Service (VETS).  Barbara’s mission to help doesn’t stop there. She is also involved with Inner City Slicker, where rescued horses from Luvs Morgan work with disabled children.  

    For Barbara's compassion and commitment to making a difference, she is presented with the February 2014 Wisconsin Heroes Award.

  • January, 2014

    Nancy Meier of Waukesha, WI

    Nancy Meier has volunteered at the Wildlife in Need Center in Oconomowoc for 13 years. She assists the staff with their daily routine of cleaning cages, feeding, and other chores. She often takes home baby animals for in-home care, which requires around-the-clock feeding and attention. Nancy is also the chairperson for the annual banquet for the Wildlife in Need Center. She spends many hours helping to organize the dinner and collect donations for the silent auction.

    For her love and dedication and care she shows to animals in need, she is presented with the January 2014 Wisconsin Heroes Award.

  • December, 2013

    JoAnn Lomax of Milwaukee, WI

    First Lady Tonette Walker presents JoAnn Lomax with The Wisconsin Heroes Award.

    JoAnn Lomax, a nursing professional and cancer survivor, continues to amaze her colleagues and community with her commitment and positive attitude toward her personal mission of helping underserved communities access quality health care. She serves in volunteer leadership positions as President of the Wisconsin Society for Healthcare Consumer Advocacy and the National Black Nurses Association Milwaukee Chapter. She and her twin sister, Mary Ann Mosley (also a nurse), conduct outreach and education programs on breast cancer early detection and treatment in the African American community in Milwaukee. Together, JoAnn and Mary Ann travel the state speaking on cancer-related issues, cultural competency in health care, and the effective handling of difficult clients experiencing a crisis.

    For her experience, compassion, knowledge and humor, she was presented with the December 2013 Wisconsin Heroes Award.

  • November, 2013

    Stephanie Kubarth of Union Grove, Wisconsin

    First Lady Tonette Walker poses with Stephanie Kubarth after receiving the Wisconsin Heroes Award for her work with Midwest Therapeutic Riding Center.

    Stephanie Kubarth has dedicated more than 17 years to helping children with disabilities through Equine-Assisted Activities. After becoming certified in Equine-Assisted Activities, she started a new non-profit therapeutic horseback riding center, Midwest Therapeutic Riding Program. Stephanie went back to school to become a licensed occupational therapist so she could help the children even more. Midwest Therapeutic Riding Program sees almost 60 children with special needs from Kenosha, Racine, Waukesha, Walworth, Milwaukee and Lake counties each week. Midwest Therapeutic Riding Program's slogan is, "Making Dreams Come True," because Midwest Therapeutic Riding Program makes families' dreams of helping their children come true.

    For her ambition, leadership and dedication to "Making Dreams Come True," she is presented with the November 2013 Wisconsin Heroes Award.

  • October, 2013

    Ron Niendorf of Madison, WI

    Ron Niendorf is recognized for his tireless efforts toward new pancreatic cancer treatment and early detection methods.

    Ron Niendorf’s son-in-law, Brian Pochel, bravely fought a five year battle with pancreatic cancer that he sadly lost in November 2011. Brian has been Ron's inspiration and motivation as he experienced how devastating and frustrating it is to lose a loved one to this disease. Ron first started out by volunteering for the local chapter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (Pan CAN), but has since founded the Pancreas Cancer Task Force at UW Carbone Cancer Center, where hisgoal is to raise $10 million in research dollars over the next decade and establish the UWCCC as a world leader in pancreatic cancer research and groundbreaking treatments.

    For his tireless efforts these past six years fighting for more legislative support, community awareness, and fundraising dollars directed toward new pancreatic cancer treatment and early detection methods, he is presented with the October 2013 Wisconsin Heroes Award.

  • September, 2013

    Sam Scifo of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    The First Lady poses for a picture with Sam Scifo after Sam was awarded the September Wisconsin Heroes Award.

    Sam is beginning his 53rd year of volunteer service with the City of Milwaukee as an Auxiliary Police Officer. While wearing his auxiliary uniform, he helps the people of Milwaukee in numerous ways by collecting food and toys for less fortunate family during the holidays, assisting with traffic and crowd control at parades and festivals, attending crime and safety meetings, and helping at police officer graduations. He is also an active member in his local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and is always there to lend a helping hand to his fellow veterans.

    For Scifo’s countless volunteer hours and longevity of service to the Milwaukee Police Department, he is presented with the September 2013 Wisconsin Heroes Award.

  • August, 2013

    Karen Borchardt of Oak Creek, Wisconsin

    The First Lady poses for a picture with Karen Borchardt after Karen was awarded the August Wisconsin Heroes Award.

    Karen is a very active person, always involved in multiple challenging volunteer projects without asking for recognition. One night a week she volunteers at the Milwaukee County Airport Information desk, providing information on various activities in the area. One day a week she prepares and serves meals at the Wilson Park Senior Center. One night every two weeks she is at the Oak Creek Police Auxiliary as a Bailiff in Oak Creek’s Municipal Court and helps them with other special events throughout the year. Annually she volunteers with Channel 10/36 TV to assist with their auction and helps with other various fundraisers. She also volunteers during the annual Polish Fest. Each year she volunteers two weeks of her time to The Clearing in Door County, a non-profit organization, and helps them open in the spring and close down for the winter. She assists with registration for the American Lung Association’s Annual Stair Climb.

    And the list continues! Karen may not have founded or headed her own organization, but she is nevertheless a giving individual with many interests, volunteering in many different ways and working toward her goal of making the world a better place. Karen truly is a modest, unassuming lady, always active, and always looking for another way to be helpful.

    For Borchardt’s numerous volunteer efforts, she is presented with the August 2013 Wisconsin Heroes Award.

  • July, 2013

    Brigid O'Donoghue of Pittsville, Wisconsin

    The First Lady poses for a picture with Brigid O’Donoghue after Brigid was awarded the October Wisconsin Heroes Award.

    Brigid O’Donoghue is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of United Special Sportsman Alliance, Inc. (USSA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit "dream-granting" charity that specializes in sending critically ill and disabled youth and veterans on the outdoor adventure of their dreams. USSA began when a customer asked Brigid if she knew of a critically ill hunter who would be interested in a free deer hunt on his ranch. Brigid contacted a Texas man with cancer who flew in that season and harvested a nice buck. From that point on, USSA’s wheels were set in motion. By helping him realize his dream and spending time with this man, Brigid was truly inspired, and she knew in her heart she could pass happiness on to others who were dealing with life-threatening illnesses. She went on with a vision to develop the all-volunteer non-profit in the fall of 2000. USSA has granted more than 8000 wishes from hunting bear, deer, elk, ducks, pheasants, wild boars, and turkey to deep sea and fresh water fishing.

    For her vision, dedication, and true passion to put a smile on people’s faces, Brigid is presented with the July (Awarded in October) 2013 Wisconsin Heroes Award.

  • June, 2013

    Mark Muench of Beechwood, Wisconsin

    The First Lady poses for a picture with Mark Muench after Mark was awarded the June Wisconsin Heroes Award. June 20, 2013

    Mark has dedicated his entire life to his hometown. He is a third generation firefighter and has been a member of the Beechwood Volunteer Fire Department since 1974. He has also served as a First Responder for 28 years and as Fire Chief for the past 21 years. He worked for the Town of Scott for 21 years as a road foreman. Whether it is plowing snow, fixing potholes, or mowing ditches, he takes great pride in a job well done. Mark approaches both of his roles with pride, dedication, and heart. Mark is the person out-of-town families call to check on their elderly loved ones in the winter to make sure they are okay. In his role of Fire Chief, Mark is always hands-on. He is beside his men when there are hoses to be rolled up, trucks to be washed, and generators to be repaired. On a fire scene, he puts the safety of his men first. Throughout the years, he has put in countless hours maintaining equipment and writing grant requests to update old equipment. He has received a total of $315,000 through his grant requests. He also involves his family and community in collecting cans to raise funds for scholarships to send children to Burn Camp through the Wisconsin Alliance for Fire Safety. In the beginning, he was able to give $250, and now after five years of his efforts, he is able to give $1,000.

    For Muench’s kind efforts and dedication to the Beechwood Volunteer Fire Department, he is presented with the June 2013 Wisconsin Heroes Award.

  • May, 2013

    Donna Walter of Oshkosh, Wisconsin

    The First Lady poses for a picture with Donna Walter after Donna was awarded the May Wisconsin Heroes Award. May 23, 2013

    Following the death of her husband, Oshkosh resident Donna Walter was in search of a way to spend her time and put her talents to good use. She found joy in volunteering her time at Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh, and her selfless efforts have not gone unnoticed. She volunteers 30 hours a week at the medical center. Being a breast cancer survivor herself, she is able to relate to many patients as they cope with the difficulties of battling illness. Donna’s time and dedication was so valuable to Aurora Medical Center that they created a special role just for her. Donna now serves as Volunteer Ambassador, working as a liaison amongst patients, family members, visitors, and caregivers. She even has her own office, phone extension, and e-mail address, which is a huge kudos to her and her value.

    For Walter’s countless weekly volunteer hours, care and concern for others, and dedication to Aurora Medical Center, she is presented with the May 2013 Wisconsin Heroes Award.

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