The Neptune Festival invites you to celebrate excellence at Neptune's Final Toast in honor of our Hometown Heroes. Local heroes will be honored during Boardwalk Weekend at a Sunday breakfast by the sea.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: ROCKY BLEIER
Rocky Bleier’s life story - a gripping tale of courage on both the football fields of America and the battle fields of Vietnam – has held audiences in rapt attention for years. Yet, the motivational message behind it, detailing how ordinary people can become extraordinary achievers, defines success in the new American century.
With the same optimism, sense of humor and steadfast determination that were his trademarks as a Pittsburgh Steelers running back, Rocky Bleier takes audiences from his early years through his professional career and talks about the lessons he learned along the way….lessons that we all can benefit from.
Not falling within the ideal of what a running back should look like, Bleier had to run harder and play smarter to be able to stand out. Despite his drive and ability to make the big play, the Pittsburgh Steelers only considered him a late round pick. But before the season ended that first year, he was drafted again…this time by the United States Army. At the height of the Vietnam War, Bleier was thrust into combat early and was seriously wounded when his platoon ran into an ambush. Receiving wounds from both rifle fire and grenade fragments in his legs, he was barely able to walk and his professional football career seemed to have ended before it began.
For more than two years, he drove himself. Little by little he overcame obstacles and fought his way back. He not only made the Pittsburgh Steelers, but also eventually became a starting running back on a team that won four Super Bowls and became the greatest football team of the 20th century.
The hard lessons Rocky Bleier learned early in his life that helped him overcome adversity and reach his goals, have paid off after football. Some of those lessons are seen between the lines in the popular book on his life, “Fighting Back,” and an ABC-TV movie of the week by the same name.
2022 HOMETOWN HEROES
Many of those who have chosen to live in our community have also chosen to make their professions in ways that provide valuable and critically needed services to all of us. They do this every day - quietly, efficiently and effectively. The Neptune Festival has established a program to recognize these organizations each year through representatives chosen by their organization's leaders.
They are the defenders of our community and our country, our soldiers and police officers, sailors and firefighters, marines, airmen, emergency medical service volunteers and coast guardsmen, and they are those who teach our children. What they do for us all is epic in the truest sense - they are our hometown heroes.
Virginia Beach Public Schools
Captain Chris West
Virginia Beach Department of Emergency Medical Services
Master Firefighter Jessie J. Clark
Virginia Beach Fire Department
Officer John Wilson
Virginia Beach Police Department
Master Deputy Sheriff Heidi Evertson
Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office
Staff Sergeant Brendan T. Hussey
United States Marine Corps
YN2 Cheyenne E. Faux
United States Navy
OS2 Timothy O. Polman
United States Coast Guard