Fort Dodge Community School District

Dodger Experience Teams with FDSH to Honor Local Workers at this Week's Events - from The Messenger

September 7, 2021

Players talking with Police Chief at football field

Quennel McCaleb knows it’s impossible to properly thank nurses and first responders for their selfless, unwavering commitment to the Fort Dodge community.

He’s just hoping this week’s recognition at Dodger athletic events will, in its own simple way, be the ray of hope many of them need in a time of stress and turmoil.

McCaleb and the “Dodger Experience” organization are partnering with Fort Dodge Senior High to offer free admission with a work identification for any UnityPoint Health-Trinity Regional Medical Center worker who attends the school’s volleyball match on Tuesday or varsity football game this Friday.

“It’s honestly the least we could do, with everything going on in the world today and everything they’re going through,” said McCaleb, whose wife, Lacey, is a nurse. “Knowing how busy every single one of them are, and how much they do for the people in our community every day without ever expecting attention or anything other than a ‘thank you’…

“We just want to let them know that we care, and hope it will be a morale boost at a time many of them really need it. A chance to get away, decompress a little, enjoy themselves and know Fort Dodge is behind you and supporting you. Honor them in the ‘Dodger Way.'”

McCaleb confirmed the plans are to have a moment of recognition for the workers in attendance. He is also encouraging all fans to wear navy blue as a way of paying tribute to local nurses and first responders.

“I think it’s important not just for the community in general, but the kids to also see what these people mean to and do for us,” McCaleb said. “It’s natural for teenagers to take life for granted. Unless they’re directly affected by something, the work these heroes do often goes unnoticed. So it’s important to raise awareness, step back and look at (their sacrifices) from a different perspective.

“We’ve got some things planned for both (events on Tuesday and Friday). Especially with it being 9/11 week (the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 is this Saturday), we want to take the time and thank them for always being there for us.”

Fort Dodge Police Chief Roger Porter, who also volunteers with the “Dodger Experience” program, echoed McCaleb’s sentiments.

“With 9/11 coming up and (COVID-19) still a serious issue in our communities, now is a good time to both recognize and honor the people who spend their professional lives helping others every single day,” Porter said. “We don’t want to lose sight of the fact that the overwhelming majority of workers who choose these professions do it for the right reasons: to serve and to save.

“Quennel first told me about this idea over a year ago. This just seems to be the perfect week for it timing-wise. It’s a public and a positive way to say, ‘thank you.'”

New Fort Dodge Senior High activities director Josh Porter called it “an honor” to work with the “Dodger Experience” on this endeavor.

“I think the biggest thing, aside from the importance of recognizing them, thanking them and giving them a night to ‘escape,’ so to speak, is to make sure our kids understand the important roles (nurses and first responders) play in our community,” said Porter, like McCaleb and Roger Porter a Fort Dodge Senior High graduate. “We’re in the business of not only educating kids, but teaching them the importance of both respect and perspective. There are a lot bigger and more important things going on in this world than athletics and activities. So it’s good for them to bring their work to light so we can (collectively) appreciate their service.

“It’s been a tough stretch for all of them — the last few years especially. We can’t remove the pressure or burden they feel, but in our own way, we’d like to at the very least let them know their commitment and passion for helping others isn’t something we take for granted.”

The “Dodger Experience” initiative was founded in 2020, with the intent of raising awareness and incorporating younger students in local athletics, activities and community relations through a mentoring program.

McCaleb is also seeking help to arrange gift baskets, which will go to nurses and staff members at the UnityPoint — Fort Dodge location. Donation opportunities are available via Venmo (@Quennel-McCaleb) or at the Fort Dodge AvailaBank to the “Dodger Experience” account.

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