‘Difference Makers’ award to be named for the late Brian Bergkamp

A new program that honors community members making a positive difference is naming its student service award for the late seminarian Brian Bergkamp, who died last July while saving the life of Kristen Eck.

The program, called “Difference Makers for Wichita Awards,” was launched in October 2016 to recognize and celebrate people and organizations whose contributions, value and positive influence are improving the greater Wichita community.

The program is sponsored by Newman University, Cook’s Heating and Cooling and The Wichita Eagle.

Difference Makers for Wichita will present five annual awards:

  • The Murdock Award for Business
  • The Award for Community Leadership
  • The Ivonne Goldstein Award for Community Volunteer
  • The Sr. Tarcisia Roths, ASC, Award for a Not-for-Profit, and
  • The Brian Bergkamp Student Service Award.

The student service award will be bestowed upon “a high school student who by example has demonstrated the selfless and giving attitude, which was a hallmark of Brian Bergkamp’s life, to positively transform society.”

“We cannot think of a more fitting namesake for this award than Brian, who performed the ultimate service of giving his life to save the life of another,” said Newman University Vice President for University Advancement J.V. Johnston. “We wanted to honor him in a way that will allow his name to live on through this award.”

Bergkamp, a seminarian in the Diocese of Wichita, disappeared into the Arkansas River July 9 while trying to save the life of Kristen Eck during a kayak outing. When Bergkamp, Eck and three other people on the outing came across turbulent waters, Eck’s kayak was overturned. In trying to help Eck to safety, Bergkamp’s kayak also overturned, throwing him into the river. His body was found in the river weeks later.

Bergkamp had just finished his second year at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and was scheduled to be ordained a priest in 2018. He is the son of Ned and Theresa Bergkamp of Garden Plain. Brian’s brother Andy is a seminarian at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill., and was ordained to the transitional diaconate in May.

Nominations are now being accepted for the Difference Makers for Wichita annual awards. The winners will be recognized Feb. 25, 2017 during a banquet to be held at Newman University. The Difference Makers program also honors an individual each month with a “Quiet Hero” award, which is given to “individuals who do not seek recognition but are inspired through an unwavering commitment to the day-to-day service of others.”

To find out more about the Difference Makers and Quiet Hero awards, or to nominate a person or a business, visit www.wichitadifferencemakers.com.

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