A barbecue for heroes
Sean Belknap, a loan officer at Willamette Valley Bank, cooks burgers during Willamette’s “BBQ for Heroes” at McEuen Park on Wednesday.
Robert Tyler, JW Memorial Foundation board member, shakes hands with a guest during the “BBQ for Heroes” at McEuen Park on Wednesday.
Staff Writer | June 24, 2022 1:05 AM
COEUR d’ALENE — In his day job, Sean Belknap is a loan officer at Willamette Valley Bank.
But Wednesday, he traded his dress shirt, computer and desk for an apron, metal spatula and grill to volunteer for Willamette’s “BBQ for Heroes” at McEuen Park.
Under the roof of Avista Pavilion on a sunny afternoon, hundreds of adults and kids enjoyed food, games and prize drawings, all to benefit two nonprofits that help military and first-responder families.
Belknap said his father was a law officer so growing up, he saw how difficult the job could be on a daily basis.
He was happy to help at the barbecue “to give back, a thank you to them for protecting us.”
Lance Novotny, Willamette business development manager, said their goal was to “show gratitude, to celebrate, to raise awareness,” and to raise funds for Newby-ginnings of North Idaho. Inc. and The JW Memorial Foundation.
The JW Memorial Foundation is named for Jeff Welch, who died in 2019 after being diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma. He had been fire chief of the Northern Lakes Fire District.
Newby-ginnings was created in October 2013, in honor of SPC Nicholas Newby, who was killed in action in Baghdad on July 7, 2011.
The JW Memorial Foundation provides assistance to the families of law enforcement, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and firefighters, “especially to those who have lost their lives or sustained significant injuries in the line of duty in the State of Idaho."
Newby-ginnings provides household and personal items as well as resources and referrals to veterans, active military and Gold Star Families.
Robert Tyler, JW Memorial Foundation board member, said they appreciated the support.
“We are starting from the very beginning to get our financial side set,” he said.
Their goal is to save $80,000.
“We’re building the foundation so it is stable,” he said.
Novotny said Willamette wants to be “super intentional” about helping military and first-responder families.
Wednesday’s barbecue, activities for children and raffles were part of that effort.
"We are grateful for those who sacrifice for others,” he said.