The Northern Illinois Red Ribbon program honors first responders with Back the Badge

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) ----- A community program gives back to our first responders and displays its gratitude in a special way.

"They're men and women just like you and I. They have families, grandkids, they're here to serve and protect us," said Paul Perrone.

Throughout the month of October, the Northern Illinois Red Ribbon Program honors local police and fire departments, thanking the hard work of the first responders.

"We have school, young people writing thank you notes to our law enforcement personnel. We will give over 500 thank you notes to the police, we have community members, we have school teachers, a lot of people are finding their own way to thank police and the fire department,” said Perrone.

To show its appreciation, this year's fundraiser will go toward the Rockford Police Department's K-9 unit, helping with the expensive task of training and outfitting a new member of the team.

"You really can't be without enough canines, they do so many different things for us, they're multi-faceted. It's just a real blessing to have this opportunity," said Lt. David Cone, Rockford Police Department.
Lieutenant Cone says the support from the organization means the world to them.

"We can't do any of this by ourselves, so with the community, I think we're much more effective and to have those open lines of communication, I think will only strive to make us better and to make our community as a whole better," said Lt. Cone.

On Saturday October 26, Back the Badge is taking over Boylan Catholic High School with a fair, where you can meet and thank your neighborhood first responders in person.