Cops, firefighters, medical responders enjoy evening of food, music, fun—and gratitude

By Nicole WK

Three “Chiefs” were honored with special door prizes at the First Responders Appreciation Banquet. From left, Tollef Ringdahl, CFO of Ringdahl EMS, Pelican Rapids Police Chief, Jeff Stadum, and Pelican Rapids Fire Chief, Trevor Steeves.

The Pelican Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce recently hosted its first annual First Responders Appreciation Banquet at The Barn at Dunvilla. 

This event, organized by Chamber president Joe Clauson, was held to recognize the tireless efforts of Pelican Rapids’ first responders, including firefighters, police officers, EMTs, and their significant others.

The banquet featured a braised beef and pulled pork dinner catered by CJ Holl. 

Tonya Honrud’s Viking Elementary class colored thank you cards that were featured as centerpieces on the tables. 

Steve Maresh’s high school woods students volunteered to serve food, as did various community members.

Marissa Manning and her Golden Retriever, Millie, attended the First Responders Appreciation Banquet March 5.

Therapy dog, a furry attendee 

Marissa Manning and her 3-year-old golden retriever Millie, a professionally-certified therapy canine team, were also in attendance. Therapy dogs can be great non-judgmental listeners for those in need of someone to talk to after a challenging event. 

Manning, whose husband is a full-time Sheriff’s deputy and whose mother worked as an EMT, has become passionate about helping first responders.  She has implemented a therapy dog program at Maple Valley Public School in rural North Dakota and assisted another rural school in starting a program in their district. 

“Off Duty Chief” entertained and inspired

Tim Eggebraaten provided entertainment for the evening. 

A police officer since 1992 with many different roles during his career with the Detroit Lakes Police Department, including Chief of Police from 2011-2016 – Eggebraaten retired in November 2016 after 24 ½ years in law enforcement and three years as a correctional officer in Clay County.

Eggebraaten has been speaking across the country about his career, life experiences, and leadership journey for several years since retiring. 

During the event, he shared his personal experiences of facing the challenges of finding a balance between his professional and personal life, especially during times of heightened emotions. 

“Challenge Coins” embossed with a phrase Eggebraaten’s mother used to say: “I am, I can, I will.” for first responders to keep with them as a reminder to rise to the challenge of seeing the good around them and making a positive difference.
Tim Eggebraaten motivated the audience of first responders with a blend of music, humor, and heartwarming anecdotes.

Eggebraaten also handed out “Challenge Coins” embossed with a phrase his mother used to say: “I am, I can, I will.” for first responders to keep with them as a reminder to rise to the challenge of seeing the good around them and making a positive difference. 

Ringdahl EMS founder, John Ringdahl walked away with door prize number one, which included a large handmade quilt lined with surprises donated from area businesses and community members. Each first responder attendee took home a generous door prize.

By utilizing a blend of music, humor, and heartwarming anecdotes, he aimed to motivate the audience of first responders in attendance. 

If the number of attendees who made sure to grab a coin before they left is any evidence, he was successful in that goal. 

Pelican community, businesses come through

Pelican Rapids area businesses and community members donated funds and door prizes for the event. Each first responder attendee received a generous door prize. Words of praise about the food, entertainment, and door prizes were plentiful, and many could be seen leaving with a smile on their face after the event.

The First Responders Appreciation Banquet was a great success, providing an opportunity for first responders to come together and enjoy an evening of good food, entertainment, and camaraderie – and for the community to show gratitude for their hard work and dedication.

The chamber has posted a video showing highlights of the event and thanking sponsors, which can be viewed online at