IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa and Nebraska will meet Friday in Lincoln for the 11th annual Heroes Game, presented by Scheels. As part of the rivalry game, citizen heroes were selected from each state, with Cara Loken chosen as Nebraska’s Hero and Rusty Boruff 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 2021 citizen heroes have positively impacted the community and stand as an inspiration to others.
A native of Davenport, Iowa, Boruff will be honored on Friday as the Iowa Hero. A military veteran and author, Boruff is the executive director and founder of One Eighty, a charity that brings hope, love and opportunity to people and communities impacted by crisis, poverty and addiction.
“We bought our first trailer in 2009 and that was the beginning,” Boruff said. “It was just simply putting guys in there to give them a place to live, and it gradually grew to what it is today.”
In 2021, Boruff received the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for outstanding public service.
Loken, a Lincoln native, will be honored as the Nebraska Hero. A yellow ribbon support specialist and event coordinator for the National Guard, Loken directs service members and their families to the appropriate people to help them with their needs.”I love our military. I love their families. I love their kids,” Loken said. “The things that I’ve done – I hope I’ve helped people and made a difference in their lives.”
Loken is married to Lt. Col. John Loken of the 155th Air Refueling Wing, who has 31 years of service, and she was named the 2016 Armed Forces Insurance National Guard Military Spouse of the Year. The founder of heARTS for Healing, Loken is also the coordinator for the Refuel You! Retreat that focuses on health and wellness for caregivers of military members and veterans.
Loken and Boruff 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.