Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees awarded the office's first purple heart to Corporal Brant Webb after he was seriously injured in a car crash on duty. (Dylan Slagle and Ulysses Munoz / BSMG)
To whom do heroes turn when they are the ones who need help?
On Jan. 27, Carroll County Sheriff's Office Cpl. Brant Webb was severely injured when another vehicle struck his patrol car during a traffic stop, resulting in multiple surgeries and ongoing physical therapy.
"When you are involved in something like that, you really don't know who to go to," Webb said. "Your insurance is not going to come out to do certain things for you, or workers' [compensation]."
That's where the Carroll County Heroes Foundation came in. The new nonprofit, founded in November 2015 through the Community Foundation of Carroll County, provided the funds necessary for the purchase of a stationary recumbent bike that Webb could use despite his injuries. He was the foundation's first client, but he won't be the last — not if foundation manager Peggy James has anything to say about it.
On Sept. 10, American Legion Post 31 in Westminster will host the foundation's first fundraiser — a 1950s-'60s Oldies Rock 'n' Roll Dance, featuring The Rock & Roll Relics band — with the funds going to help any law enforcement, firefighter, emergency medical technicians, or military members who live or work in Carroll and find themselves injured in the line of duty.
"I picked Sept. 10 for one reason: It's the closest I could get to 9/11, which is called Patriot Day," James said. "We are hoping to make it an annual dance."
As a new program, the Carroll County Heroes Foundation certainly needs to raise funds, James said, but another reason to hold the dance is to spread the word that the foundation depends on the community to nominate heroes who need help: Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees nominated Webb.
"We need to get this out in the news so people are even aware that the program exists," James said. "The idea is to support whatever is needed to have the hero or his family maintain a normal quality of life."
The idea for the Carroll County Heroes Foundation came to John Van Brundt, of New Windsor, a former Marine, when the sum total of the news about people in the military and first-responder fields who had been injured or killed began pressing on him. He began to think about all the causes he donated to and how most of them were not specific to Carroll County.
"With all of the stuff going on in the world, there has got to be some Carroll County people that are hurt at some point," Van Brundt said. "I started thinking, where does the support come from? I didn't know. I saw some drives for funds for various people that were killed in action, not local, but on TV. I said, 'Well, why not do something about that in Carroll County?' "
If things go well and locals aren't hurt, there might not be a frequent need for Carroll County Heroes Foundation funds. Van Brundt recognizes that, but he hopes people will help contribute in order to have a "rainy day fund" available for people when they are harmed in the line of duty.
"I don't have dollar figures — I would just like to have enough. I don't know what enough is. I can't predict what injuries could be coming. I would just like to have enough to help," he said. "I would just like to have a safety net there."
Accidents and injuries are never things one expects — just ask Webb. But having the Carroll County Heroes Foundation there to help certainly made a difference in his life, and it is continuing to do so: The foundation is funding some changes to his bathroom and his vehicle to make both more accessible to him while he continues his recovery.