The 23rd D.J.’s Hero Awards Luncheon Honors 17 Nebraska Scholars

May 4, 2022

More than 1,100 guests filled the grand ballroom of CHI Health Center Omaha on May 3 for the 23rd annual D.J.’s Hero Awards Luncheon, which honored the 17 recipients of this year’s D.J.’s Hero Awards scholarships.

Keynote speakers Dr. Tom Osborne, former Creighton University Athletics Director Bruce Rasmussen and Omaha businessman David Sokol offered insights on leadership and resilience as part of a conversation on stage moderated by Dr. Jack Stark.

The event was emceed by KETV anchors Julie Cornell and Rob McCartney. In addition, Salvation Army Western Divisional Leaders Majors Greg and Poppy Thompson, 2022 D.J.’s Hero Awards Luncheon Chairs Dr. Jack and Shirley Stark, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, Salvation Army Advisory Board Chair Dr. Joann Schaefer and Salvation Army Western Division Executive Director of Development Jeff Beckman also offered congratulatory remarks from the podium.

This year’s scholarship winners are: Mohammad Abughalyoon, Zackarea Alhejaj, Isabella Buckman and Yoselyn Paiz-Rafael of Omaha; Marco Alvarado of South Sioux City; Cody Bailey of Wahoo; Marcus Bratrsovsky of Humboldt; Madaux DeLong of Milford; Boxin Du of Central City; Melodie McClure of Grand Island; Christian Mill of Pierce; Olouwatobi Noukpozounkou of Bellevue; Aleah Onate of Gibbon; Camille O’Neill of Gretna; Zachery Randall of Pender; Allison Vaughan of Humboldt; and Tyson Warner of Louisville.

“These 17 Heroes are the very definition of resilience,” said Sokol. “Their stories and they themselves are truly inspiring.”

Each spring, The Salvation Army of Omaha recognizes a group of outstanding high school seniors from across Nebraska who exemplify perseverance and selflessness and who are servant-leaders in their communities. Each scholar is presented a $12,000 scholarship at the D.J.’s Hero Awards Luncheon. Underwritten by David and Peggy Sokol – in partnership with Fred Hunzeker, Elizabeth and Mike Cassling, Marilyn and Jim Schroer and Kathy and Larry Courtnage – the D.J.’s Hero Awards were founded in 2000 in memory of D.J. Sokol, who lost his battle with cancer in 1999 at age 18. A total of 189 D.J.’s Hero scholarships have been awarded to Nebraska high school seniors over the past 23 years, including 17 new scholarships in 2022.

Proceeds from the 2022 D.J.’s Hero Awards Luncheon will benefit The Salvation Army of Omaha’s youth development programs.

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