2024 Joshua M. Freeman First Responder Awards

the first responder awards luncheon logo

The Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce is set to honor the outstanding police officers, paramedics, EMTs and firefighters who help keep the local communities safe throughout the year on Friday, February 23 at Coastal Kitchen at Bear Trap Dunes. Formerly known as the Valor Awards, the event received a new name as the term “valor” is sacred in the First Responder community. Each participating company and department elected one individual who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to receive an award for their outstanding service. Nominating chiefs and captains have the choice to have their awardee considered for the Overall Valor Award. This year, one of four nominees* will be awarded the Overall Valor Award which was renamed in 2007, in memory of the late developer and philanthropist, Joshua M. Freeman.


Continuing the nineteen-year tradition, the 2024 Joshua M. Freeman First Responder Awards, presented by the Carl M. Freeman Companies, will recognize the service and dedication of fourteen nominees. Representatives of local towns, public-safety organizations, government officials and the Chamber membership will gather to honor these first responders for their acts of service, courage and commitment.

As chosen by their leadership, the 2024 First Responder Awardees by category are:


(Officers of the Year) Patrolman Molly Ryan* – Bethany Beach PD; Corporal Justin Wechtenhiser* – Dagsboro PD; Officer Cameron Clift* – Fenwick Island PD; Sergeant Mark Burton – Ocean View PD; Patrolman 1st Class Tyler Bare* – Selbyville PD; and Corporal Shaun Baldasano – South Bethany PD.


(Firefighters of the Year) Firefighter Jerry Carter – Bethany Beach VFC; Firefighter Ed Ferencie – Frankford VFC; and Fire Police Captain William Bowden Sr. – Millville VFC.


(EMTs of the Year) EMT Nathan Shine – Bethany Beach VFC; EMT Matt Troutman – Sussex County EMS; EMS Lieutenant Justin Shockley – Frankford VFC; EMT Tyler Hickman – Millville VFC; and Engine Captain Daniel Hudson – Selbyville VFC.


Recent Overall Valor Award Winners include Deputy Chief William Parramore of Selbyville VFC (2023); Maria Berdan of Sussex County EMS (2022); The Sussex County EMS Staff (2021); Larry Corrigan of the Frankford Police Department (2020); and Justin Hopkins of the Ocean View Police Department (2019).


“The business community is grateful for the opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of the men and women of the local law enforcement, fire departments, and emergency medical services,” said Lauren Weaver, Executive Director of the Chamber. “It is a different character this group possesses; selfless and brave. It is a joy to be able to celebrate that with their families, leadership, and peers.”


Congratulations to all! Support for this event is provided by Carl M. Freeman Companies, Banks Wines & Spirits, Coastal Point, Delmarva Power, Mountaire Farms, Coastal Services, State Farm Agent – Billy Reese, Taylor Bank, Wilgus Associates, Anne Powell – Coldwell Banker, Beebe Healthcare, Bethany Beach Books & The Book Drop, True North, PNC Bank. For more information, visit thequietresorts.com.