Ruder Awarded for Veteran Fundraising Work
By Brandi Makuski
Stevens Point Police Chief Kevin Ruder has earned a formal nod of appreciation from the county’s frontline veterans group.
At Monday’s City Council meeting Ruder was presented with a plaque for his work in raising money for the Never Forgotten Honor Flight by organizing the area’s first annual Guns & Hoses softball game, an exhibition game pitting city firefighters against police officers. That game was held in September and ended after 7 innings with a good-natured SPFD whomping of Ruder’s police force by a score of 21-11.
According Duane Miskulin, chairman of the Portage Co. Allied Military Veterans Council, Ruder’s efforts brought in nearly $50,000 for the Honor Flight– a nonprofit program which flies veterans free of charge for a day of sightseeing at the nation’s military memorials in Washington, D.C..
“As you all know, he did a fantastic job for the Guns and Hoses,” said Miskulin, as he handed the plaque to Ruder. “He had a goal when he’d come to our council meetings to make X amount of money; he only exceeded it by four and a half times.”
Miskulin, who called Ruder’s support of the local veteran community “unwavering”, chairs a group marshalling the local resources of over a dozen veteran services groups- including the American Legion, AMVETS and the VFW- charged with assisting veterans of all ages. The group also works closely with SPPD to help deal with issues facing veterans specifically, to include mental health concerns and emergency medical or housing services.
Ruder said he was taken completely by surprise when Miskulin called him to the podium at Monday’s Council meeting, and was uncharacteristically lost for words except to give credit for the fundraising back to the community.
“This is really unexpected- I’m usually not short on the words,” Ruder said. “It’s you that needs to be honored, the veterans of our community, and the community itself.”
Ruder said it was “very easy” raising the money because the community quickly rallied around the cause. In June Ruder began reaching out to local businesses for financial support for the game and the Honor Flight, then telling the City Times he’d raised the first $5,000 “in about eight minutes“.
“The community jumped for the cause and we ended up totalling over $48,000,” Ruder said. “The applause goes to the community as a whole. I’m so proud to serve this community.”