Help Choose Milford’s Hometown Heroes

Aug 1 2017 /

Staff Report

Six years ago the Riverwalk “Freedom” Festival, an annual event held the weekend following Labor Day, began “Operation Giveback”, an event designed to give thanks to veterans and current military members for their service to the country. Event organizers from the Milford Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford and sponsors MilfordLIVE are once again asking for the public’s help to identify two Hometown Heroes as one male and one female residents that will be honored at the event, held on Saturday, September 9, 2016.

“There are so many selfless people in Milford that make it an amazing community to live in and should be given awards everyday,” said Riverwalk “Freedom” Festival organizer Angela Dorey. “I love that the Hometown Heroes can be nominated by anyone and can’t wait to see who our heroes will be this year.”

Last year, Mr. Connelly received the Hometown Hero honor post-mortem as his wife Rosemary Connelly was at the event to accept the award. A member and Captain of the Tempe Fire Department in Arizona, Bob served his community as a first responder. In 2007, his wife and he relocated to Milford and immersed themselves into their new community. Mr. Connelly volunteered for the Mispillion Art League, the Bug & Bud Committee and Downtown Milford, Inc. Mr. Connelly was instrumental in securing a sizeable grant from the Longwood Foundation that enabled the theater group to halt the seepage of water from the adjacent Mispillion River into the building. Mr. Connelly was also instrumental in securing funding to install a projector and screen that allows the theater group to show movies when there is not a live performance planned.

Award winner Sharon Bailey and family were at the event last year to accept the honor. Sharon Bailey first began teaching kindergarten in 1972 at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School. After 39 years of teaching she has worked with Milford’s children at their most innocent and impressionable age. Sharon taught over two generations of Milfordians. After retiring from the Milford School District in 2011, Sharon continued to volunteer with local organizations including Delaware Hospice’s New Hope Camp for children.

Local families are invited to nominate their Hometown Hero through email at or on the Facebook page. Submissions should include a photo of the individual and a short description of what makes them your hero. Candidates for the Hometown Hero title can be veterans, current military, first responders, police or other any other individual in the community that you feel deserves recognition for their contribution and impact here in Milford. Deadline for nominations is Friday September 1st, 2017.

“We want you to tell us about someone who helps those in need or touches lives in our community,” stated owner Bryan Shupe. “We know that everyday Americans are out there quietly making an impact on their community and we want to hear about them. If you know someone who inspires you, please tell us.”

Part of the larger annual Riverwalk “Freedom” Festival, Operation Giveback begins at 5pm. The event offers a free meal, courtesy of Mr. Bar-B-Que,  for veterans, active duty, first responders, police, fire and EMT. ** (Proof of service is required) In addition, a Relaxation Station, courtesy of Aaron’s Rentals in Milford, will offer plush seating and shade in the Bicentennial Park pavilion where those who are currently serving or have served can relax, enjoy their free dinner. As the evening extends into the night, live entertainment will be provided by the local artists from the Federal Street Band and a fireworks display will cover the night sky after dusk.

Plans are underway for the 17th Annual Riverwalk “Freedom” Festival scheduled for Saturday, September 9, 2017. This year, the event will be held entirely on one day, starting at 9 AM and culminating with fireworks at dark. More details and timeline of events will be announced on their Facebook page in the upcoming weeks at

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