First Responder Support exists to promote goodwill between first responders and the community, increase awareness of the realities facing first responders, and provide relief and support to those who serve our community as first responders. Our current focus is on firefighters, EMTs, emergency telecommunications, and law enforcement officers working for Boone County and for municipalities in Boone County.
Board of Trustees
Johnny Wingate is co-owner of Crosshair Pest Control in Columbia and a co-founder of First Responder Support. Johnny brings a unique perspective to the mission of supporting first responders. Like most children, Johnny didn’t aspire to be a drug addict. He wanted to be a hero, a man who would protect others. He was a law enforcement Explorer, he enrolled in a police cadet academy, and he attended law enforcement seminars with his goal firmly in mind. Johnny’s unseen struggles as a teen drove him to drug and alcohol addiction, and the criminal activity that came along with his addiction. During his dark time, Johnny interacted with many law enforcement officers and other first responders. Although many of these interactions were unpleasant, given the circumstances, Johnny’s aversion and resentment eventually turned to gratitude. Johnny recognizes the great sacrifices that first responders make for the residents of Boone County and he is committed to supporting these men and women and their families.
Donald Weaver is the principal attorney at Weaver & Associates and a co-founder of First Responder Support. Don represents first responders as a large part of his legal practice. He is a former Columbia police officer himself and his father is a retired Columbia firefighter. After 13 years of active law enforcement, Don pursued a career with Lexipol, the national leader in public safety policy, training, and risk management. Don knows from personal experience (and from the experience of his friends, clients, and coworkers) the pressures that first responders face and the toll that serving as a first responder can have on individuals and families. He is excited and passionate about the opportunity to help first responders and their families, improve relationships between first responders and the community, and help the community better understand the realities these brave men and women face on our behalf every day.
Matthew Nichols has spent much of his career serving others and he is a cofounder of First Responder Support. Matthew has been affiliated with law enforcement since the mid 1990s when he started as a cadet for the Columbia Police Department (CPD). He has been a law enforcement officer for more than 10 years and he currently serves as a detective for a mid-sized law enforcement agency in central Missouri. Before he started in law enforcement full-time, Matthew was a small business owner and a sales professional for a Fortune 50 company. Matthew understands, from personal experience, the serious burdens that first responders are asked to bear on behalf of the community. And he knows the devastating impacts that these burdens can have on first responders and their families. Matthew was instrumental in starting FRS because he wants to help ensure that first responders and their families not only survive–but thrive.
Adam Burks has a passion for service to his community. He has served as a volunteer firefighter for the Boone County Fire Protection District (BCFPD) since 2002. He is currently a Captain assigned to manage BCFPD Station 13. The Fire District’s motto “A Helping Hand” has shaped Adam into the person he is today. Adam also has experience as a law enforcement officer– having previously worked for the Boone County Sheriff’s Office and having volunteered as a reserve deputy for the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office. Adam has seen, firsthand, the devastating impacts that stress, trauma, and tragedy have on first responders. Adam is very excited to offer his time and his experience to help First Responder Support serve the needs of those who serve Boone County.
Geoff [pronounced “JEFF”] Jones, who recently retired, was appointed as Columbia’s Chief of Police on August 5, 2019, and was officially sworn into his position on September 16. Chief Jones led a department dedicated to providing excellent customer service and reducing violent threats to community safety. With deep local roots, relationships, and understanding, he has been a hallmark of life and work in Columbia. Geoff, a Columbia native, began his journey with the City’s Police Department as a Cadet at age 15, while attending Rock Bridge High School. As a student, in between school activities and shifts at his uncle’s restaurant, he selflessly volunteered his time to CPD. Geoff earned his Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Missouri in 1997. Shortly after graduation, he joined the Sedalia Police Department, only to return home in 1998, driven by the calling he discovered as a Cadet: to serve his community as a Columbia Police Officer.