Black Hills Badges for Hope is an organization dedicated to forming meaningful connections among first responders and community members.
Dustin Calhoun, president of Black Hills Badges for Hope, founded the organization with Jason LaHaie in 2017 in an effort to turn a tragedy into something positive for the community.
“So, in 2011, August of 2011, there were three police officers that were shot and two of them died,” said Calhoun. “One of them was my best friend, Nick Armstrong, and the other one was my co-founder’s, best friend, Ryan McCandless. And so through their sacrifices they made for the community and everything they gave back to the community, it really inspired Jason and I to carry on their legacy in the community.”
Black Hills Badges for Hope aims to connect first responders to youth in the area by providing scholarships for extracurricular activities to students from low-income families.
“So, the main purpose of Black Hills Badges for Hope is to give back to the community in ways that will support our area youth and support our first responders. And so we do that with scholarships to youth to either do sports or activities that their families wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.
And then just doing first responder outreach to, you know, fire department, sheriff’s office, police department, you know, just showing them that there are people out there that support them,” said Calhoun.
Black Hills Badges for Hope has been serving the community for five years. The organization began as a modest 13-team operation and has since expanded to 37 teams as of 2022.
In the winter, Black Hills Badges for Hope hosts the Badges N’ Kids Christmas Shopping Event which partners youth in need with local officers to assist in holiday gift shopping.
“This community supports their first responders very well,” said Calhoun. “I think the community wants our youth to do well, and we’re just one of those organizations that can help bridge that gap and make sure that those youth are getting into positive athletics or organizations, you know, and doing the right thing.”
Black Hills Badges for Hope gratefully receives support from many sponsors from the community, both businesses and individuals alike.
To donate or to find out more about Black Hills Badges for Hope, visit their website here.