The Golden Wheel Awards were developed to honor those who exemplify Rotary’s principle motto, Service Above Self.
Information about the Golden Wheel Awardees and their Community Service is shown below in Alphabetical order by awarding club.
Golden Wheel Awardee stories and pictures from the Lincoln Journal Star:
For a copy of the full page listing with the golden Wheel Awardee photos as saved to the District Website - click here.
To see the Golden Wheel Awardees in the newspaper (in Alphabetical Order By Awardee First Name) - click here.
District Conference story from the Lincoln Journal Star:
The story as in the newspaper - click here.
To read the story as saved to our District Website - click here.
Click here for the photos of the Golden Wheel Award Presentations during the District Conference.
2023 Golden Wheel Awardees
Ashland Rotary Honors Bradley Pfeiffer
You can always count on Bradley to show up when something is needed in the community. From guiding Stir-up Days, Hometown Christmas, and car shows to driving the school bus, Brad is the go-to person. He has also been the leading force behind the Hometown Heroes banners lining the highway through Ashland in coordination with American Legion Post 129.
Aurora Rotary Honors Curran Vetter
Curran Vetter’s volunteer leadership in the community impacts thousands of people every year. He recently helped create the Aurora Community Clubhouse which serves as a public venue for local events and the community golf course. Curran also led the Bremer Community Center through a renovation project. This facility houses recreation courts and activities for youth, adults, and seniors, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and the Aurora Development Corporation. The renovation also includes a new outdoor park recreation area. Curran never asks anyone to do something he wouldn’t do himself. He leads by example and steps into volunteer leadership roles to work on projects that have a significant impact on the community.
Beatrice Rotary Honors Mark Pethoud
Broadly speaking, the Public Properties Department is responsible for providing the public an aesthetically pleasing and safe environment to enjoy recreation and leisure. As the Director of this Department, Mark oversees the daily operations of the department. But beyond these things, Mark is also a mover and shaker within the community. Behind the scenes, Mark facilitates many of the grant opportunities that help pay for the maintenance, decoration, and enhancement of City property. He often paves the foundation for successful grant applications for the City and is key to administering significant public properties projects.
Bellevue/Papillion Rotary Honors Michelle Andahl
Michelle Andahl’s extensive charitable efforts demonstrate her passion for supporting military personnel, children, and families. She is a leader in civic betterment, is the former Sarpy County Election Commissioner, and is a champion for the impact of each person’s vote.
As a member of the Offutt Advisory Council Board of Directors, Michelle actively supports base personnel. In addition, she serves on the Board of the Salvation Army Kroc Center, is a member of Kiwanis and the Bellevue Woman’s Club. Last fall, the Women on a Mission for Change organization selected Michelle as a recipient of their Legacy Award. Michelle embodies “Service Above Self.”
Blair Rotary Honors Erika Cada
Erika has been instrumental in directing, managing, and raising funds for the Midweek Meal Program. This is a community-wide free meal program provided through the First Lutheran Church of Blair, Nebraska. The program has been operating every Wednesday of the week since March 18, 2020, and provides a free evening meal to 220-250 community members. Approximately 90% of the meals are delivered directly to the homes or recipients with the remainder being picked up at the church. Erika not only manages the volunteer group but also takes care of the reservations for meals from local citizens.
Columbus Morning Rotary Honors Denene Owens
Denene Owens has been with the Food for Thought Backpack Program from the beginning, about 10 years, and is board President. This program helps students who are struggling with food insecurity. Denene organizes volunteers, orders and picks up groceries, helps with packing of food bags, and coordinates with schools. Her “regular” job is playing piano for all the school plays in Columbus and for the choir at Columbus Middle School. She also organizes a Christmas fundraiser with her choir students to purchase gifts for families in need. On top of all these wonderful activities, she is active in Church, and as a wife, mother, and grandmother!
Columbus Noon Rotary Honors K.C. Belitz
K.C. Belitz is the epitome of passion, excellence, and service. He has represented Columbus at local and national events. Nothing is too small for K.C.’s involvement. He has coached the Lakeview High School volleyball team for many years, taking them to state in 2021. In 2019, he joined the Nebraska Community Fund where he helps raise and grant money directly to communities. “How do you build a community, how do you market that community’s success? We do a lot of facilitation of training, and community events, really helping them dream bigger about their future as a small town in Nebraska. That’s a lot of fun,” Belitz said.
Council Bluffs Centennial Rotary Honors Justin Thompson
Justin is a former Marine who has sacrificed for our freedom. His commitment toward his fellow Veterans did not stop when he returned home. With the help of family and friends, he founded the nonprofit organization, Operation 22 til Freedom, in an effort to eliminate suicide among Veterans. This organization is committed to helping our Veterans on a daily basis by providing emotional and financial support. Justin is a selfless, hard-working individual who simply wants to make a difference. He truly reflects Rotary’s motto: Service Above Self.
Council Bluffs Noon Rotary Honors Matt Saar
Matt has shown tremendous leadership and initiative in every group he gets involved with. He helps plan and execute countless events for the young professionals of Council Bluffs; and he is always the first one to offer his assistance. He is the exact kind of dependable and reliable person you want serving your community. Even though Matt is not a Rotarian, he operates his daily life as if he was following Rotary’s four-way test.
Crete Rotary Honors Russ Sears
Russ Sears’ enthusiasm for Crete goes a long way, including volunteering to grow a pumpkin patch for Crete’s Great Pumpkin Festival since 2015. He leads in the planning, fertilizing, watering, and arranging of additional labor and supplies. The patch is where community members gather for planting and harvest, but it doesn’t stop there, as he asks local students to paint pumpkins on downtown windows as a reminder festival time is near. When it’s over he carts leftover pumpkins around in his pickup, filling downtown planters, and leaving them on the porches of neighbors and strangers alike. His efforts are a ‘game-changer’ for Crete.
David City Rotary Honors Louise Niemann
Louise Niemann has been a volunteer on the local, state, and national levels for years. From coaching her children in T-ball and Girl Scouts to sitting on the National Board for United Methodist Women now known as Women of Faith. Her latest endeavor has been on the board of Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art. She has helped spearhead the fundraising endeavors of the Museum to raise money to renovate a historical building in David City to become a new home.
Fairbury Rotary Honors Trevor Steinmeyer
Trevor Steinmeyer is a giving, creative person who does many things to help his community. He is currently chairman of the Hospital Board of Directors; Board President of the Teammates Board; Teammates mentor for three students; served on the Fairbury Chamber Board; emcee and creative director for the Chamber banquet for 15 years; Elks Trustee since 2017; Fairbury Hoops Board Member; past member Fairbury Country Club Board; Fairbury Public Schools Community Stakeholders committee; Fairbury Citizen Advisory Review committee; Go Red for Women emcee; youth flag football, baseball and basketball coach; Sunday School teacher and finance committee member at Grace Lutheran Church, Fairbury.
Falls City Rotary Honors June Bowers
June’s positions of leadership include: President, Southeast Nebraska Retired Teachers; VP, Nebraska Association of Retired School Personnel; Co-president, Iota chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma; VP, Falls City Educational Foundation; 3-time president during 9 years as a school board member;  American Legion and VFW Auxiliaries, school liaison; organizer of annual Veteran’s Day program and parade;  Performance Arts Chair for Richardson County Arts and Humanities Council; coordinated Vienna Boys Choir and Night of Jazz concerts in Falls City; Board of Directors, Richardson County Historical Society; Richardson County Jail planning committee; and 6-term president, Sorosis Club.
Fremont Rotary Honors Mike Liese
Mike Liese is one of a kind. He has unselfishly volunteered his time to the Fremont community for as long as one can remember. His contributions started in grade school when he helped basketball coaches at the YMCA. Such efforts have continued since that early age and today, almost every high school coach and referee knows him. Fremont is a better community because of Mike and his willingness to serve others above self. He promotes integrity, goodwill, and peace through his actions. Mike gives without ever expecting anything in return. He is forever devoted to all his relationships. He has made a difference in Fremont.
Geneva Rotary Honors Susan Biba
Susan Biba has been a lighthouse in the storm of grief for many in Fillmore County. She and Alice Tatro, both of Geneva, Nebraska, started the Fillmore County GriefShare chapter several years ago after their own losses. The closest chapter was more than 60 miles away, and after experiencing the GriefShare process (and the commute), they wanted to bring this faith-based approach to healing after a loss to those in Fillmore County. Susan has led the weekly sessions of the 12-week GriefShare curriculum, mixing group discussions, short videos, workbook pages, and personal experiences together to help others through their journey of loss.
Glenwood Rotary Honors Vicki Bird
For 39 years, Vicki Bird has seen to it that no child in Mills County, IA has gone without a good Christmas.  Helping sometimes over 500 children a year, from birth to age 18, she raises funds and solicits the citizens of the county to purchase gifts for all the children nominated to her by families and the school systems of the county. No matter the need or last-minute crises in purchasing and delivering all the gifts, it always gets done, with God’s help, and Vicki’s boundless energy. If you asked anyone in Mills County who they feel has the greatest impact on helping others, Vicki Bird’s name would always be mentioned first!
Hebron Rotary Honors Rachel Eickman
Rachel Eickman is the agricultural educator and FFA advisor at Thayer Central Community Schools. Rachel is married to Jason and they have three daughters, Nealy, Kaley and Ansley. Rachel started the Thayer Central FFA Chapter in 2015. Rachel’s goal is to inspire kids to see where they can fit within the agricultural industry. With Rachel’s guidance the FFA chapter helps with community projects throughout the year, many of which are organized by the Hebron Rotary Club. A key project is the maintaining of the local Arboretum. FFA has assisted with this Rotary project since 2020 and would not be able to continue it without them. Thank you, Rachel, for your hard work and dedication. We appreciate your continued support of the Rotary Club!
Lincoln 14 Rotary Honors Bob Burton
Bob Burton offers an excellent example of Servant Leadership! His volunteer effort and leadership in the fight against sex trafficking in Nebraska exemplify “Service Above Self!” Bob has a big job as Executive Associate Athletic Director at UNL. After getting involved in the prevention of sex trafficking, Bob founded the 501(c)3 non-profit “I’ve Got A Name” in 2012. Bob continues to demonstrate a relentless focus and tireless work ethic into serving this non-profit which has changed the lives of hundreds of women and girls in our community. And for these reasons, Bob is a very worthy recipient of this Golden Wheel Award!
Lincoln East Rotary Honors Liz Shea-McCoy
Liz Shea-McCoy’s public-minded spiritedness continues in the area of the Arts to enrich both individuals and organizations, creating a more beautiful world. Her passion for directing large-scale Public Arts Projects showcasing artists and their creative gifts have transformed Nebraska communities into bigger-than-life outdoor galleries. Additionally, Liz has led the effort to save the Pershing Mural from planned destruction to ultimate restoration and eventual installation within the Park area of the Wyuka State Historic Cemetery.
Lincoln Giving Spirits Evening Rotary Honors Bridget Kreifels
Lynette’s Angels is an organization that helps provide Christmas to families impacted by cancer. The organization carries on the hope and compassion that Lynette Earnest showed daily. Lynette’s mission, prior to her passing on December 21, 2014, was to make the world a better place for all. Bridgett Kreifels, who serves as the Board Treasurer, is the backbone of Lynette’s Angels and carries on the legacy of Lynette Earnest. Bridgett and the team raise money, organize volunteers, and find candidates who have been diagnosed with cancer. They have been delivering gifts, money, and meals to families on December 21 each year since Lynette’s passing.
Lincoln South Rotary Honors Nancy Green
Nancy Green grew up in Deshler, learning the value of volunteering from her parents, and now passing on to her daughters. As a retired registered nurse, her volunteer work includes: Clinic With a Heart, four mission trips to the Pine Ridge Reservation, Project Lincoln Connect, and two mission trips to Zambia to work at a remote clinic. As a Congregational Care Minister for her church, Nancy makes hospital, rehab, and extended care visits weekly. Serving on the Board for Re-Entry Alliance of Nebraska and as a member of The Homeless Coalition are additional activities.
Nebraska City Rotary Honors Jim Kuhn
Jim Kuhn holds a special place in his heart for veterans. His grandfather, father, brother, and son all served in the military, and Jim served in Vietnam. It’s no wonder that Jim is dedicated to serving veterans in Nebraska City when needs arise. Last summer, the restored historic Veteran’s Memorial Building and Community Center was dedicated. The five million dollar project was funded entirely through grants and donations, and the sweat equity of volunteers including Jim’s. He was instrumental in making it happen. Jim has been a pillar in the community giving of his time and talents to
multiple groups.
Norfolk Rotary Honors Aaron Otten
Aaron Otten has continued the giving legacy of his late father, Fred Otten, as CEO of Elkhorn Valley Bank & Trust. Not only are Aaron and the bank large contributors to the Norfolk Rotary Club’s Music in The Park concert series, Aaron also is or has been involved in: The Orphan Grain Train, For the Girls, The Norfolk Art Center, Norfolk Area Chamber, NAC Action Council, and the Citizens Advisory Review Committee. Aaron was the Co-Chair of the YMCA‘s Major Capital Campaign for the New Field House, as well as being a major contributor. Aaron is a respected, involved, and trusted ally for the Norfolk Community.
Omaha Downtown Rotary Honors Chloe Boyer
Chloe is a driven professional and passionate volunteer. In addition to running a consulting company with her husband, Tom, Chloe is a volunteer and leader with nonprofits in Omaha. She is a member of the board of directors of the Mid-America Council of the Boy Scouts of America. She also serves on the board of The First Tee of Omaha, a nonprofit that improves the lives of young people in the greater Omaha area by strengthening character, teaching life-enhancing values, and promoting healthy choices through the game of golf.
Omaha Millard Rotary Honors Wendy Adelson
Wendy Adelson truly lives a life that is focused and centered on service above self. Wendy endured the tragedy of her son’s death in the line of service, USMC Cpl Daegan Page. She continues to work tirelessly to support others across the Omaha/Millard Community and to provide support across the nation as a Gold Star Mother. Wendy is an advocate for helping others. She unconsciously applies the Rotary four-way test principles in everything she does and can be seen and felt in all the families and mothers she supports through the CPL Daegan Page Foundation and her work as a Gold Star Mother.
Omaha Morning Rotary Honors Melanie Phelan
Melanie is an active volunteer and business coach with RISE, a prison re-entry program. She is Chairwoman of the board for inCOMMON, serves on the Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee, and has been on the leadership team of her church, One Hope Benson. Melanie is co-owner of Evergreen Enterprises, six bars/restaurants.
For the last twelve years, Melanie has been involved with Camp Chisomo, an NGO in Malawi, Africa. They now own 16 acres, host community gatherings in the pavilion, bring water to the village via two wells, provide childcare, teach skills classes, and sponsor 30+ kids in their journey through school.
Omaha Night Rotary Honors Dana Murray
Dana Murray is a world-class, talented musician, and teacher, having taught dozens of successful musicians from Omaha. After touring the world as a musician, Dana returned to Omaha and created North Omaha Music & Arts (NOMA). Located at North 24th and Lake Streets in Omaha, NOMA is a place for music students to not only build their talent, but also build their confidence, time management skills, and their character. NOMA is on track to become THE music and art education academy that educates students, attracts world-renowned talent, and sends confident artists into the world.
Omaha Northwest Rotary Honors Todd Sears
The First Responders Foundation is rooted in 9/11 remembrance. Its mission is to serve and honor all our First Responders, Veterans, and their families; build appreciation and respect for their work; and enhance public safety. Todd Sears leads this important mission as President of the Foundation. Just one example of the Foundation’s community impact is their financial support of the Omaha Fire Department’s “Arson Dog.” In addition to Todd’s support of First Responders, he has opened up the Foundation’s meeting room to Omaha Northwest and Morning Rotary Clubs for their weekly meetings. Todd’s service to community makes a difference.
Omaha Suburban Rotary Honors Mark Weber
Mark Weber has changed the face of philanthropy in Omaha. Mark took the comment from Buffet to make your community the most generous in the country to heart. Mark worked with the Omaha community foundation to start a group of professionals to study the process of philanthropy. After several years and much mentorship, he has graduated over 100 professionals through the CAP program (Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy) in Omaha. Attorneys, financial advisors, planned giving officers, and CPA’s.
After some time and follow-up research, it was discovered that over a billion dollars in donations can be attributed to the professionals that have gone through the CAP program in Omaha. Now that’s thinking big!
Omaha West Rotary Honors John Popish
Heartland Kids Against Hunger is John’s first venture into the nonprofit world, and the experience has been nothing short of rewarding. He has a great team, and they all know that this is part of a much bigger plan. This is about faith and trust. In the last year alone 511,000 meals were prepared. In working with Omaha West and other Metro Rotary clubs, over the past three years, 80,000 meals have been prepared.
Pawnee City Rotary Honors Dorothy Willis and Linda Bowman
This team volunteers many hours to enhance the Pawnee City Library. Both ladies have provided leadership to the Library Board and Foundation. They lend their time and talent to assist the Library Director every Monday morning throughout the year with all aspects of the library’s operations, such as book weeding, book selection, assistance with special programs such as the Golden Sower program for young readers, and many other aspects which enrich services provided. The Pawnee City Rotary Club thanks this great duo for their dedication to enhancing the community’s library.
Plattsmouth Rotary Honors Barb Dietrich
Barb Dietrich has a true servant’s heart. Barb has volunteered at the local thrift shop Under His Wings twice a week for the past six years. Her recycling efforts for the store have diverted hundreds of pounds of waste from landfills. Barb has served as a Teammate, mentoring the community’s youth. She collects electronic waste from neighbors and friends for recycling and volunteers at the 5th grade environmental fair each year. The thrift store director said every day she asks, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” Barb exemplifies what it means to be a true giver – the community is lucky to have her!
Red Oak Rotary Honors Joshua LeRette
Joshua LeRette is a dedicated and engaged young adult who volunteers his time and resources to better the Red Oak community through various organizations, including 4-H and YMCA sports. He is also a skilled piano student and an active member of his school. At the age of 10, Joshua initiated a project that has raised over $24,000 for a local food pantry, highlighting his passion for service. Joshua’s outstanding commitment to community service has earned him the prestigious Rotary Club of Red Oak’s Service Above Self Award, a remarkable achievement for a seventeen-year-old.
Seward Rotary Honors Jan Matzke
For over 50 years, Seward, Nebraska’s Jan Matzke has been an involved and dedicated partner and Rotary volunteer with her husband Chuck - a five-decade member of Seward’s Rotary Club! As a retired educator, Jan continues to serve as a loyal civic leader in a host of special community projects involving the local hospital and healthcare facilities, new library, as well as her church and the Seward Civic Center. Her leadership has generated extensive funding for numerous projects with the new Nebraska National Guard Museum in Seward. She believes in the family concept, supporting her children, grandchildren, and extended family. Indeed – Jan lives “Service Above Self!
Shenandoah Rotary Honors Dave and Carla Harrington
“Talk about a worthwhile endeavor that really is impacting lives around the world, that pretty much is the epitome of service” to quote one of our club members. Dave and Carla Harrington make trips with their own money to help with a nonprofit called Orma’s Orphans in Swaziland, Africa, which feeds hundreds of children a day that would otherwise go hungry. They are involved in helping these children get sponsored to pay their tuition for an education. The Harringtons also help with fundraising and facilitate ways the children can help provide some of their own food, i.e. chickens and gardens.
Wayne Rotary Honors Jodi Pulfer, DVM
Dr. Jodi Pulfer’s impact in our community begins with her four remarkable children, including their family-owned, environmentally sound dairy farm. It is her quiet, dedicated service to her church, the Wayne County Food Pantry and Backpack Program, membership with the Wayne Community Family Coalition, president of the Wayne Community School Board, Providence Medical Center board member, Teammate Mentor, and Therapy Dog Handler, which changes lives in her service and by her example. Wayne Rotarians know her character and are thankful and indebted to her for all she does. She is truly a Golden Wheel in the Wayne Community!
Western Douglas County Rotary Honors Jane Gordon
Jane has been part of the Christian Outreach Program-Elkhorn for several years helping families struggling in the surrounding communities. Aside from her employment at COPE, she has been personally involved with a Federal Treasury Department grant, providing rent and utility assistance to families affected by COVID issues. Without Jane’s persistence and commitment, this program would not have been available to our community. Jane also is a member of the Metro Continuum of Care Provider Council for homeless prevention in Omaha and a member of the Housing and Homelessness System Response Team. Jane volunteers at her church working with small groups and childcare.
York Rotary Honors Chandra Berlin
Chandra currently works for the Sixpence Program within York Public Schools. She is the President of the York County Health Coalition, started and operates the York County Childcare Alliance, is the lead driver in expanding access and quality childcare in York, among many other roles in our community. She is a dedicated advocate and leader of York County, especially in areas of childcare, education, and the health of families and children. She has a passion for helping others, without ever asking for anything in return. She has a heart of service and truly exemplifies what it means to be a Rotarian.
The 2023 Golden Wheel medallions are sponsored by TMCO, A Total Manufacturing Company. Thank you to TMCO for the design of this year’s Golden Wheel Award medallions.