Pittsburgh, Pa. – Today, Pittsburgh Steelers’ Quarterback and Findlay, OH native, Ben Roethlisberger, announced the final grants to be awarded from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund. The Foundation is distributing 15 grants to police and fire K-9 programs around the country.
The K-9 departments receiving funding from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation include the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office (KS), City of Covington Police (KY), City of Girard (OH), East Cleveland Police (OH), Findlay Fire Department (OH), Houston Fire Department (TX), Lafayette Police (IN), Mingo County Sheriff’s Office (WV), Redondo Beach Police (CA), Wahoo Police (NE) and five departments in Pennsylvania: Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, Allegheny Valley Regional Police, Manor Township Police, North Fayette Township Police and Punxsutawney Borough Police.
This announcement completes the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation’s 14th and final grant cycle. The Foundation will distribute more than $90,000 this year. Grant funds will be utilized in a variety of canine-focused initiatives including the establishment of new K-9 units, replacement of retiring dogs, purchase of safety and training equipment, and training and certification of new and existing K-9s among other K-9 related expenses.
“It has been an absolute privilege to be able to support the critical work of K-9 officers and their handlers over the past 14 years,” said Ben Roethlisberger. “To witness the bond between a dog and their handler has been very rewarding. Their lifesaving crimefighting gives ‘teamwork’ new meaning. They are truly partners! I have many fond memories of meeting first responders on the field and in our communities and I want to thank them for their dedication and sacrifice.
For the past 14 seasons, The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has 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 mission of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation focused on supporting 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 more than $2.3 million since 2007, nearly $2 million of which has specifically benefited K-9 programs. In addition, the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has hosted several events to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Roethlisberger’s high school alma mater and other organizations close to the football star’s heart.
Allegheny County Chief Deputy Kevin Kraus said, “K-9s of the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office are invaluable to the community. In addition to rescuing dementia patients and suicidal individuals, they apprehend dangerous fugitives and protect Allegheny County court facilities through explosives and narcotics patrols. It is imperative the Sheriff’s Office maintain the overarching health, safety and well-being of its beloved K-9s during active service years and in retirement. The generosity of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation will ensure our K-9s, largely aided with donations and grants, continue to receive the high-quality care they deserve. Since its inception, the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has done tremendous work to support K-9 units throughout the country. We are deeply honored to be part of this dynamic program devoted to the function and welfare of public safety service animals.”
Wahoo Police Chief Bruce Ferrell said, “The Wahoo Police Department would like to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for the generous donation to the Wahoo Police Department K-9 program. Without their assistance our agency would be hard pressed to move forward with this project. I truly believe the K-9 program will enhance safety and promote positive community relations in our city.”
Brian Pearson, President of the Girard Professional Firefighters Association, offered, “The City of Girard Fire Department extends a warm thank you to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for their generous grant award. The funding will go a long way towards sustaining our K-9 Arson Unit which began last fall with the acquisition of an accelerant-detecting K-9. In a short time, Maya has proven herself an asset to the City of Girard and the surrounding region. These funds will ensure that we can continue to meet our vital mission.”
Police Sergeant Corey King said, “The Redondo Beach Police Department would like to express our gratitude for the generous grant awarded to our K-9 program by the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. The funds will contribute to continuing our department’s vision, ‘We Are the Community – Leading the Way in Law Enforcement.'”
Sheriff David Groves stated, “The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office is excited and honored to receive this grant from Ben Roethlisberger’s Foundation. Knowing Ben has family who calls our county home makes this award even more special as our K-9 Teams, who are committed to keeping the community safe, will be better enabled to do so thanks to his generosity.”
Police Chief Matt Conrad said, “The Punxsutawney Borough Police Department is grateful for the donation from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. Our K-9 program has been completely funded through private donations and relies on the generosity of others. In the short time that our K-9 program has been established it has had a positive impact on Punxsutawney Borough along with the surrounding area. Mr. Roethlisberger’s generosity and love for animals will ensure the future success of the K-9 program in Punxsutawney.”
Donald W. Palmer, Jr., Chairman of the Manor Township Board of Supervisors, remarked, “The Police Department is excited and appreciative to receive this grant funding from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. Manor Township’s new K-9 program is projected to cost approximately $91,000 to launch, and this grant will help substantially with achieving that goal. The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has accelerated the execution of the K-9 program and the positive impacts a K-9 will have in the reduction of crime and drug trafficking in our communities. We anticipate that the K-9 unit will help us build and maintain trust and socially acceptable relationships with our residents and serve as a mentoring tool for reaching troubled youth.”
Covington Chief of Police Robert Nader stated, “K-9 Ernie started working for our team in June 2012 and began his retirement on October 9, 2020. Unfortunately, Ernie was not able to enjoy his retirement very long, as his sickness worsened and was laid to rest on January 29, 2021. During his eight and half years of service, he was a reliable and dedicated officer, always eager to start his shift to help make our community safer. After reaching out to our K-9 friends, we were able to find his replacement, Duke, in early October. The funding awarded to us from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation will help pay for Duke’s training, kenneling, food, veterinarian visits, and also help our other two K-9 partners, Holly and Dino. I would like to thank Big Ben for his continued support of the four-legged police officers across our nation and for the support of the Covington Police Department K-9 Unit in its 52nd year of service.”
Findlay Fire Chief Josh Eberle said, “It’s exciting to add Ben’s name to the list of funding partners for our project. The STRICT Center will be an innovative training facility that will benefit all fire and law enforcement agencies in Findlay and Hancock County, so it aligns perfectly with the values of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.”
Allegheny Valley Regional Police Chief Michael Naviglia said, “The K-9 unit is honored to be a recipient of the 2021 Ben Roethlisberger Foundation grant. The funds will be used to provide training and supplies for K-9 Carr. AVRPD K-9 Unit would like to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for its continued support.”
North Fayette Township Police Chief Donald Cokus stated, “On behalf of North Fayette Police Department, I would like to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for selecting our department as one of its grant recipients. With the support of this grant, our department’s K-9 program will be able to continue to serve our community with success. We thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund for its continued support.”
East Cleveland Police Chief Scott P. Gardner said, “We could not be more excited to announce that the Friend’s of the East Cleveland K-9 Fund is a recent grant recipient from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. Currently operating with one K-9, these funds will go a long way in the procurement of our second K-9. The Department would like to thank the Foundation for its support of police K-9 units everywhere.”
For more information about the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation or The Giving Back Fund, please contact Jessica Duffaut or visit www.bigben7.com or www.givingback.org.
About Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger is approaching his 18th season as quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. At 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, he is aptly referred to as Big Ben, and has become known for his big performances and humble approach. Roethlisberger is one of only 10 starting quarterbacks to win two or more Super Bowls. In 2009, he led the Steelers to a 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Tampa with a thrilling touchdown pass in the final seconds. In 2006, Roethlisberger became the youngest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl, defeating the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in Detroit. Roethlisberger earned his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl selection in 2018 and his 7th overall (2007, 2011, 2014-18), and already holds most of the passing records for the Steelers. He is the only quarterback to lead his team to the conference championship game in each of his first two seasons. He was the unanimous Rookie of the Year in 2004, breaking Dan Marino’s rookie records for completion percentage and passer rating and was the first quarterback in NFL history to compile a 13-0 regular season record as a rookie.
Roethlisberger was raised in Findlay, Ohio and was a three-sport star at Findlay High School. He went on to set nearly every quarterback record at Miami University (Ohio) prior to foregoing his senior season and becoming the 11th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2004 NFL Draft. Roethlisberger resides near Pittsburgh with his wife Ashley, daughter Baylee, sons Benjamin and Bodie, and dogs Remy and Kota.
About The Giving Back Fund
The Giving Back Fund is a national public charity that creates and professionally manages charitable foundations and other philanthropic programs for athletes, entertainers, business entrepreneurs and corporations. Since its founding in 1997, The Giving Back Fund has created an important niche in expanding and diversifying philanthropy, particularly among young people, women and people of color. The Giving Back Fund’s unique structure allows donors to direct more of their charitable dollars to causes they care about and less to administrative overhead. To date, The Giving Back Fund has provided philanthropic consulting, management and programming to more than 200 athletes, entertainers, entrepreneurs, and other high net worth individuals. The Giving Back Fund has overseen the distribution of more than $30,000,000 in charitable grants within the United States and other countries, and has developed dozens of unique scholarship, mentoring, medical, arts, and other philanthropic programs. For additional information, please visit www.givingback.org.