Custard Heroes To Them We Raise Our Concrete Mixers
We asked Culver’s guests to nominate someone in their lives who goes above and beyond the everyday. We set off to celebrate a few of these everyday heroes with Concrete Mixers and a surprise worthy of their accomplishments.
Michael Johnson Big-hearted Surprise
Michael Johnson works tirelessly to improve his community in Madison, Wisconsin. From his position as the CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County to the countless hours of community outreach he performs, Michael is a role model to many.
Helping Children to Excel
As a kid growing up in Chicago, Michael Johnson found support through his local Boys & Girls Club. When he later had the chance to join the organization as the president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County in Madison, Wisconsin, he seized the opportunity. Michael’s non-stop energy helped him jump into the role as a community leader. “He came in into this community with such a great presence and such a great energy,” explained Julia Voss, board member for the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. “Everybody just flocked around him, and he brought this community together. He really has.”
Five years into his career with the Boys & Girls Club, Michael and his team have raised over $15 million for the organization, which empowers young people through its youth development programs. Students in the Boys & Girls Club’s tutoring and mentorship program have achieved a 90% high school graduation rate, and Michael has helped to secure scholarship opportunities for students who may otherwise not be able to afford a college degree. His efforts ensure that kids in his community can achieve their dreams.
“Everybody just flocked around him, and he brought this community together.”
His hands-on dedication to his community seems to know no bounds. Michael regularly organizes toy and gift drives to ensure that all children can enjoy the holidays. His friend, Tim Metcalf, recalled a time when he and Michael lived on the streets of Madison for three days, in order to better understand what life is like for homeless children. “Those are the types of things that he does when there’s a problem and he wants to find out what the solutions are. So he experienced them firsthand,” explained Tim. “He’s just an incredible human being.”
His dedication to serving has reached beyond the Madison community; recently he organized donations and drove a truck full of bottled water to residents in Flint, Michigan, who were in need. Efforts like these inspire the children in his community, and have turned Michael into a role model for Madison youth.
“He does a great job of finding the best in people and teaching kids to find the best in themselves. That takes a lot of work. You can’t do that in one day or one week or one month. You have to do that year after year after year, and he does that,” said Julia.
“I’ve never seen somebody care so much about kids and changing the futures of kids’ lives than Michael.”
Culver’s stopped by the Boys & Girls Club to show our appreciation for the incredible service that Michael has performed for his community and beyond. Craig and Culver’s team members joined community members, staff and kids to surprise Michael with a celebration worthy of his achievements, complete with Concrete Mixers made with Reese’s®.
Instead of keeping the attention to himself, Michael was quick to share the honor with his wife, children and colleagues. He praised them for their efforts in helping children secure bright futures.
Inspired by Michael’s Story?
By 2018, Michael hopes to increase the number of children served at the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County from 3,000 to 10,000. Donate to help achieve this goal.
Nick Seefeld A Hero’s Welcome
Nick Seefeld plays a big part in his small community of Aledo, Illinois. He is a police sergeant, volunteer firefighter and active member of his local VFW. On top of all that, he also organizes the building of memorials around town, making sure other heroes get the recognition they deserve.
Nominated as a Hero
Nick has lived in the small town of Aledo for most of his life and is known around town for his patriotism and caring service to his community. When his girlfriend Vickie Vigen saw a post on Culver’s Facebook page asking guests to nominate people in their lives who go above and beyond the normal call of duty, Nick immediately came to mind. She nominated Nick as her hero for the countless acts of service he performs in his community. Nick’s mom, Linda Andress, agreed. She said, “He has got a heart of gold. He will do anything for anybody.”
“He serves his community in so many ways. He’s a hero for all that he does.”
Even when he’s not on duty as a police officer or volunteer firefighter, Nick continues to serve his community. He is well known in Aledo for the work he does as part of the local VFW post, where he volunteers by maintaining the grounds and raising the flag for national holidays. He has also organized the building of veterans’ memorials around town, the most recent one for Mercer County soldiers who died in the post-9/11 wars. Placed in the center of town, the memorial included statues, flags, benches and a wall with the soldiers’ names and faces. Nick’s dedication to honoring his fellow veterans and servicemen and women shows true patriotism.
“He loves this kind of work. He didn’t do it to get praise and credit. He did it because it means so much to me.”
When Culver’s contacted Vickie with the wish to honor Nick, she wasn’t sure they could keep it a secret. The idea of honoring Nick for his service spread through the community like wildfire. Everyone who knew Nick felt the celebration was long overdue; no one deserved it more. Vickie enlisted the help of some friends and family members, who organized a get together at the local VFW post. Nick’s friends and family would attend, along with his fellow VFW members, police officers and firefighters. Even the mayor of Aledo would make an appearance.
When the day for the surprise came, Nick admitted he suspected something was up, as he noticed more activity than usual around the VFW post. Nick never imagined, however, that what was happening was a celebration for him. He arrived at the VFW post after work to be surprised by Craig Culver and Culver’s team members, thanking him for his incredible service to his community and country and handing out Concrete Mixers for everyone to enjoy. “We’ve heard about all the great things you have done in your community. We are just honored to meet you,” said Craig. Nick was touched by the surprise, and everyone there agreed it was a great way to show Nick how much he was appreciated.
"He does a lot of things that he doesn’t always get thanked for.”
Inspired by Nick’s Story?
Want to join Nick in honoring those who have served our country? Donate to the VFW to support our nation’s veterans.
Donna Wiebelhaus Unbridled Thanks
As a child, Donna Wiebelhaus spent her free time riding horseback on her grandparents’ ranch. When Donna left her job as a school librarian, she fell right back into horseback riding, but she missed making a difference in children’s lives. That feeling led her to open SpiritHorse Liberty.
In 2010, after realizing that there were few affordable therapy centers in the area, Donna opened SpiritHorse Liberty, a therapeutic riding center in Liberty, Texas. She runs the ranch, along with a team of instructors and over 40 volunteers, and provides horseback riding services to people with disabilities and women and children who are victims of abuse, at no cost. Donna was nominated as a hero on Culver’s Facebook page by Daniel Rodriguez, whose son has Down’s Syndrome and has benefited from therapy at SpiritHorse Liberty. Other parents and volunteers poured out their gratitude for what Donna has done. “When you have a disability, therapy is very expensive, and insurance normally doesn’t cover the expensive therapies that our children need,” explains Elva Caballero. “For Donna to do this at no cost, that’s a huge help.”
“She’s a really amazing, caring and sweet person that has put her heart, sweat, blood and tears into this.”
Participants in SpiritHorse Liberty’s services benefit from therapy in many ways. For many participants with physical disabilities, riding horseback allows them to strengthen muscles that they normally would not use. Other participants form special connections with the horses that allow them to come out of their shells. Donna reports that she has heard more than one rider speak their first words or form their first full sentences while riding horseback.
Through the riding therapy, participants form special bonds, not only with the horses but with Donna and the volunteers as well. Trust is an important part of horseback riding, and the participants and volunteers form lasting relationships during therapy. Elva Caballero’s son has benefited from his time with Donna. “He feels very confident when he rides the horse. There is a kind of chemistry they have, and he loves it,” Elva said.
“We work for hugs and kisses around here. You get to know the kids; they become family.”
Culver’s made the trip to Liberty to honor her for everything she does as founder of SpiritHorse Liberty. Craig Culver and team members surprised her on her ranch, where they passed out Concrete Mixers for Donna and her volunteers, therapy participants and their parents to enjoy. Donna was quick to credit her accomplishments to her team of volunteers, but it was clear that they felt she was the true hero.
“Our kids really love Donna. They have a connection with her; she really cares for our kids.”
Inspired by Donna’s Story?
Donate to SpiritHorse Liberty to help more people with disabilities and victims of abuse benefit from its services.