A warm, Falcon welcome

A Falcon Family member introduces President Obama at the DNC

Sharon Belkofer introduced President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night in Philadelphia.

Belkofer’s son Lt. Col. Thomas Belkofer was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2010 when a Taliban suicide bomber targeted his NATO convoy. Lt. Col. Belkofer graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in Technology with a concentration in Design Technology/Environmental Design/Architecture. His widow, Margaret Ann (Maness) Belkofer, also graduated from BGSU in 1992 with Bachelor of Science degrees in Education in Business Education and Education in Marketing Education.

It was the second time in a week that a member of the Falcon Family took the national stage. BGSU student Abby Paskvan performed “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Republican National Convention on July 20 in Cleveland. Paskvan, a junior majoring in marketing, was invited to perform the national anthem by convention officials. 

Belkofer, a retired nurse, began her address on how she came to know the President.

“I know that President Obama has meant so much to millions of Americans across the country. I'd like to tell you what he means to me. Six years ago, on the morning of May 18, 2010, I became a Gold Star Mom — we became a Gold Star Family — when my son Tom, a lieutenant colonel, was killed in Afghanistan. 

“I first met the President shortly after at Fort Drum, where he was scheduled to speak to the 10th Mountain Division, but when he heard Gold Star Families were there, he wanted to meet with us. And as he was hugging me, I cried all over his suit. Tom would have been so embarrassed.”

Later in her address, she mentioned how her son and the President served as inspirations when at 73 she decided to run for the Rossford Board of Education.

“I knew my community's schools needed more resources, so at age 73, I took a leap of faith and ran for my local school board,” Belkofer said. “And when my back was bothering me and I didn't feel like knocking on doors, when the wind was blowing and it was cold and dreary, I thought of my son Tom, who never gave up. And I thought of our President. He never gives up. So why should I be different?”

After she won a seat on the school board, she said the President thanked her. 

“I won my election — I won big,” she said. “The President even sent me a handwritten note of congratulations. That's who he is — no matter how busy, he's never forgotten this little old lady in Ohio who has always had his back.

“You see, some people in this world make big differences. My son Tom made big differences. The President continues to make big differences — and smaller ones too. Like the inspiration he poured into me — so that I might make a difference of my own.”

Belkofer has two other sons, Doug and Don, who also have served in the military.