About HFA

Our Mission

Hero Fund America shall conduct activities that increase awareness, advocacy and support for Fire, EMS and Law Enforcement Agencies in order to further the education, training and life-saving equipment needs for first responders

Efforts to recognize and honor the First Responders called to action during the Boston Marathon bombings resulted in the creation of Provincetown First Responders Appreciation Month (PFRAM), a grassroots initiative supported by the Town of Provincetown along with its business sector and public safety agencies. Thanks to community wide generosity, PFRAM honored over 45 Boston EMS paramedics, EMTs, and Dispatchers along with their families in September 2013. The success of this endeavor gained the attention of the Boston-based firm, Nixon Peabody, and the consequent gift of preparing our 501(c)(3) application for the eventual formation of the non-profit HERO FUND AMERICA.

HERO FUND AMERICA was recognized in November 2013 with a special citation by Boston EMS for its efforts in response to the Boston Marathon tragedy.

Garth Roberts


Garth Roberts (President, Founder), formally a Broadway keyboardist and conductor, holds a Bachelors of Music from Ithaca College and pursued Master’s Studies with John Wustman at the University of Illinois. He is currently Co-Owner of the award-winning American Hotel in Sharon Springs, New York. For his community, Garth has served as a Trustee for the Village of Sharon Springs and was a founding member of the Sharon Springs Council on the Arts. Garth currently serves on the Board of Directors for Bassett Hospital in Cobleskill, New York, the SUNY Cobleskill Foundation Board and as board president for Klinkhart Hall Arts Center, Inc.  An avid runner, in 2014 Garth created the Annual Run 4 The Hills!, a charitable run/walk committed to raising funds for local Fire Departments and Rescue Squads. Inspired by the selfless and heroic efforts of First Responders at the Boston Marathon in 2013, Garth initiated the Provincetown First Responders Appreciation Month that honored 45 Boston EMS paramedics, EMTs, dispatchers, and their families. The success of this project resulted in the subsequent formation of the non-profit HERO FUND AMERICA and with that, Garth was honored with a special citation from Boston EMS for his efforts in response to the Marathon tragedy. In 2016, HFA established the Hero Fund America Fund, a permanent charitable endowment fund that makes grants supporting education, training and equipment needs for emergency services departments.

Patricia Johnstone

Patricia Johnstone

Board Member – Secretary

Born and raised in upstate New York and married to a 30 year veteran of the New York State Police, Patty is intimately aware of the risks that First Responders take when answering an emergency call, the critical decisions that need to be made in the blink of an eye, and the fear loved ones have when the door closes behind them. Over the years, Patty has worked closely with and been a liaison to First Responder agencies; 911, EMT response, Law Enforcement and local Fire Departments.

Patty joined Hero Fund America’s Board of Directors in 2017, and was instrumental in inspiring over 60 First Responders to participate in the 4th annual Run 4 The Hills for First Responders! Duty Gear Challenge. Patty is keenly aware of the selflessness of those First Responders arriving on the scene of emergencies, and that many of these agencies lack sufficient man-power, the resources to fund continuing education, and the latest technology to be able to appropriately and safely respond to the situation at hand.

Her personal philosophy: Every day, First Responders put their own lives at risk to ensure the safety of us, the public. In turn, it is the absolute responsibility of the public to ensure First Responders have all of the resources at their disposal to protect the same.
Johnstone currently works for the Cobleskill-Richmondville School District in Cobleskill, New York and has also served as Village and Town Court Clerk in the same community. As a proud resident of Sharon Springs, Patty is currently serving as Trustee for the Village of Sharon Springs, New York.

Ann-Marie Kyes

Ann-Marie Kyes

Board Member – Treasurer

Originally from Maine, Ann’s entrance into the world of first responding began in her early teens where she served as a junior firefighter with her local department and the Wilderness Rescue Team in Maine. At age 18, Ann became the departments first female firefighter, an Advanced EMT and participated on a crew for Wildland Firefighting in California. Ann also served in law enforcement as the first female police officer in her town and worked with four different departments between 1982 and 1985. After a move to California and into the world of corporate America, Ann and her wife Chris eventually moved to Sharon Springs, bought a 350-acre Equestrian Center and have raised horses, cattle (and other pets) for the past 16 years, along with providing programs such as Inner City and Equine Assisted Learning through their non-profit Equine Awakenings, Inc. Ann is also Founder and Life Coach for New Awakening Life Coaching for the past 17 years. She has dedicated much of her time as a 4-H Leader, along with serving on the Cornell Cooperative Extension with the State Horse Education Advisory Committee, Board of Directors, and Executive Committee as Treasurer, and locally as an EMT/firefighter with the Sharon Springs Rescue Squad and Fire Department. Ann has participated as an Event Coordinator for Run 4 the Hills for First Responders for the past 4 years, and possesses a strong passion for her community and service to others. She currently serves as Treasurer for Hero Fund America.

Melinda McTaggart

Board Member

Melinda McTaggart is a long time area resident, with family roots in Schoharie and Otsego Counties reaching back to the early 1700s. She has a Master’s Degree in Education from SUNY Oneonta and a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies from West Virginia University.

During her career as an educator, Melinda has taught at all academic levels and in a variety of locations, including SUNY Oneonta, Job Corps and for the New York State Department of Correctional Services. Able to combine her love of history and teaching, Melinda joined the Schoharie County Historical Society in 2017 as the Director of Educational Outreach to promote and develop programming for students and public throughout the region.

She became interested in supporting first responders following a fire which devastated the business district in her community and the commitment her cousin gives to his work with Rescue and Fire Departments.

Melinda is a graduate of the inaugural class of Leadership Otsego and the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Program Leadership Development Cohort. Melinda is an active member of several service organizations such as the Daughters of the American Revolution and has been active at the chapter, state and national levels.

Susan M Cimino-Cary

Board Member

Susan M Cimino-Cary is devoted to the people in her community and serves on multiple Boards and Task Forces. She is the Treasurer of the Schoharie County Critical Incident Stress Management Team, which assists first responders, following a significant traumatic event. She serves on the Board of Catholic Charities of Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties, and served as past-President of this Board. She has served on the Board of the Child At Risk Response Team (CARRT) since its inception, the Child Fatality Review Team, the Community Services Board, the Schoharie County Suicide Prevention Task Force, the Schoharie County Domestic Violence Task Force, the Schoharie County ACE’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Team and the FAM 5K Committee. These are diverse organizations, which all work to improve the lives of people in Schoharie and surrounding counties.

Susan is the owner and practitioner at Schoharie Hypnosis and Reiki in Schoharie. She is a Certified Hypnotist through the National Guild of Hypnotists; a Reiki Master/teacher in the Usui Tibetan Reiki tradition and a Certified Life Coach through the Coaches Training Institute. She received her BA degree in Psychology, from the State University of New York at Albany. Susan is passionately dedicated to helping her clients transform their lives into the lives they have always dreamed of living.  In her practice, Susan offers clients a place to find their authentic selves and connect their body, mind, heart and spirit.  She encourages clients to make empowered choices, which serve their highest good. She helps them realize, they can only control themselves and not the world outside them. However, they CAN choose how they perceive, view, and react, to what occurs around them, in new, different and healthier ways. Susan approaches all her work from a place of compassion, skill, friendliness, confidence, enthusiasm, and passion. She has a great wealth of knowledge to share with her clients.

Prior to opening her business, Susan worked in the Social Work Department, of a small, rural hospital for more than 30 years, also doing work she dearly loved.  During this time, she began studying a wide-variety of holistic, complementary health practices, which she offers to her clients each day.

Susan has participated in Run 4 the Hills for First Responders since its inception.