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D.J.'s Hero Awards Image

D.J.'s Hero Awards

The Salvation Army is now accepting nominations for the 2019 D.J's Hero Awards. THE NOMINATION DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO MONDAY, MARCH 4 AT 11:59 P.M.

D.J. Sokol faced significant obstacles, but he always focused his energy on his family, friends and community. His passion for life and engaging sense of humor delighted everyone who crossed his path. Although he lost his battle with cancer in 1999, D.J.'s legacy lives on.

The D.J.'s Hero Awards are underwritten by David and Peggy Sokol in loving memory of their son, D.J. The awards recognize 11 Nebraska high school seniors who exemplify D.J.'s selflessness, leadership and commitment to the community. Award recipients receive a $10,000 scholarship toward their selected university or college.

What's New in 2019

The Teresa Hunzeker Memorial Scholarship
This new $10,000 scholarship will be awarded to a deserving student who plans to pursue a STEM-related (science, technology, engineering or math) field of study. The scholarship honors the member of Teresa Hunzeker, who passed away in January 2018. 

TeamMates+ Mentoring
The 11 scholarship winners will each be paired with a TeamMates+ mentor who will offer one-on-one encouragement, support and guidance during the award recipients' college years.

D.J.'s Hero Award Partners

TeamMates Mentoring is a school-based one-to-one mentoring program that began in 1991 with the vision of former University of Nebraska—Lincoln Head Football Coach Tom Osborne and his wife, Nancy. It has grown to serve more than 9,500 youth in 3rd through 12th grades through partnerships with local school districts. 

TeamMates+ Mentoring pairs college students with community volunteers who serve as champions and advocates for the student. Through monthly visits in a public setting, mentors provide encouragement, accountability, guidance and support. Benefits include a Gallup Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, creative learning strategies and study skills, and advice pertaining to both career and personal development. 

Avenue Scholars provides individualized support services to help students from low-income backgrounds identify and ultimately enter financially sustaining careers. Each Avenue Scholar is assigned a Career Coach who provides long-term comprehensive support and guides students' personal and career-related development during their junior and senior years of high school through postsecondary education/training and into a career. Avenue Scholars' expert career coaching is enhanced by best practice-informed case management strategies and frequent engagement with data on student outcomes. 

Avenue Scholars is assisting The Salvation Army in tracking data on the benefits of the D.J.'s Hero Awards and mentorship.

Nomination Requirements

Nominator Application Criteria and Instructions:

  • Nominator must be an adult, 21 years of age or older, and not related to the nominee. Counselors, teachers, pastors, mentors, employers and community leaders are encouraged to nominate qualified students.
  • Nominator may nominate more than one student.
  • Nominator must complete and submit this nomination form AND answer the following five questions (submission should not be longer than two single-spaced pages in 12-point font):

           1.  How does the nominee demonstrate maturity and/or courage by acting independently?
           2. How has the nominee responded to and overcome challenges and adversity?
           3. How does the nominee express enthusiasm for life?
           4. What are the nominee’s greatest achievements and personal goals?
           5. How has the nominee demonstrated a commitment to others, leadership, and service to their community (please write a narrative rather than a list)?

Nominee Application Criteria and Instructions:

  • Nominee must reside in Nebraska and be enrolled during the 2018-2019 academic year as a high school senior.
  • Nominee must be a resident of and plan to attend college in the United States.
  • Nominee must submit a short essay of 250 words or fewer explaining the adversity he/she has overcome, why he/she should receive the scholarship and his/her future plans.
  • Upon acceptance of the $10,000 scholarship, the award winner will agree to attend the D.J.’s Hero Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, May 7, in Omaha and will agree to work with a free TeamMates+ mentor.

Submission Information

Nomination forms must be postmarked or received via email by MONDAY, MARCH 4 (NOTE NEW EXTENDED DEADLINE). Please return the 1) completed nomination form, 2) nominator’s responses to the questions, and 3) nominee’s essay.

Please scan and email documents to djshero@usc.salvationarmy.org or mail all required documents to:
Jeff Beckman
The Salvation Army
10755 Burt Street
Omaha, NE 68114

Nominators will be notified by April 8, 2019, if their nominee was selected as a D.J.’s Hero scholarship recipient. Only scholarship winners will be required to attend the luncheon.

Download nomination forms