IOWA CITY, Iowa — Nebraska and Iowa will meet Friday in Lincoln for the 13th annual Heroes Game, presented by Pioneer. As part of the rivalry game, citizen heroes were selected from each state, with Josh Hicks chosen as Nebraska’s Hero and Eric Kumm selected as Iowa’s Hero. Both will be recognized Friday at Memorial Stadium.
The Heroes Game was created to honor the rich football traditions of the University of Iowa and the University of Nebraska football programs while also annually honoring community heroes in both states. The 2023 citizen heroes have positively impacted the community and stand as an inspiration to others.
Hicks, a Lincoln native, will be honored as the Nebraska Hero. An HVAC technician accustomed to heavy lifts was at the right place at the right time, as he played a pivotal role in rescuing and pulling a man from a van that tumbled off a highway into a lake near Wichita, Kansas earlier this past July.
When asked by the Lincoln Journal Star if felt like what he did was heroic, Hicks responded by saying, “I had no idea who was in that van. Don’t care. Don’t know if they’re hurt, we’re just gonna go down there and check it out, make sure if anybody needs our help, we’re there,” he said. “There was no, ‘I’m gonna go out and be a hero and save some life today.’”
Eric Kumm, a vocational ag teacher and FFA advisor since 1997 in the South O’Brien school district, has been an incredible influence on countless young minds. There are many kids in rural Iowa that found their love and passion for agriculture under his tutelage. Without his guidance, many small towns in Northwest Iowa would be without veterinarians, agronomists, welders, ag teachers, farmers and many other ag related jobs that students found their passion for under Eric.
“Congratulations to Eric and Josh! We are fortunate to be able to share their stories and recognize the impact each of them has had on others.” said Beth Goetz, Interim Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie Director of Athletics Chair. “Pioneer has been a wonderful Hawkeye partner and we appreciate their support of the Heroes Game.”
“Pioneer is incredibly grateful to honor both Josh and Eric for their heroic and impactful efforts in our Midwest communities,” said Jeremy Renz, Pioneer US Marketing Director. For nearly 100 years, we’ve been helping and honoring farmers throughout the U.S. and we are excited to keep that tradition going by honoring local heroes that live and work in the communities we serve every day. This partnership is one small way we can express our sincere gratitude for those heroes.”
Hicks and Kumm will attend the game as special guests of the teams, receive on-field recognition at halftime, and have their names inscribed on the game trophy.
Pioneer, a current partner of both the Iowa Hawkeyes and Nebraska Cornhuskers, is a multi-year title sponsor of the Heroes Game. The ongoing relationship between Pioneer and Iowa is overseen by Learfield’s Hawkeye Sports Properties, the University’s athletics multimedia rightsholder and locally based team. The ongoing relationship between Pioneer and Nebraska is overseen by Husker Athletic Partners, a Playfly Sports Property, the university’s athletics multimedia rightsholder.