Meet the 25 Everyday Heroes

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Get ready to meet the Everyday Heroes of Central Ohio.

After a bruising and polarizing election season, the Dispatch Media Group (DMG) was inspired to showcase 25 residents who quietly work to heal, unite and improve our communities.

So we put out a call for nominations to recognize members of the Columbus area whose extraordinarily selfless acts set them apart in these divisive times.

We received 118 recommendations and our panel of judges selected five finalists and 20 semifinalists.

To highlight their achievements, we created a special publication through the combined efforts of The Columbus Dispatch, ThisWeek Community News and Dispatch Magazines.

See below to learn their stories, from a 14-year-old girl who has led a drive to give away more than 40,000 books; a volunteer who’s served at a suicide prevention hotline for nearly 30 years; a woman who founded an organization to help families affected by childhood cancer; a former addict who aids people with addictions. And even a drag queen who has raised more than $1 million in charitable contributions.

Rarely has what they accomplished earned big headlines, but their collective works over time have made an immeasurable impact on countless lives, making a significant difference in our communities.

We salute them.

— Bradley M. Harmon, President

Dispatch Media Group

— Ray Paprocki, Publisher

Dispatch Magazines

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Meet the Everyday Heroes


Meagan Warren donates more than 40,000 books to children in need

Howard Warner's mission is just to help

Renna Schafler wants to save lives through hotline

Tricia Keels' 'Souper Heroes' initiative has contributed 100,000 meals to the local hunger relief

Corps leader Marshall Cheatham keeps kids marching forward


Cindy Rieman creates volunteer reading program to help elementary students

Michael Doody's garden feeds the neighborhood's soul

Donn Ditzhazy helps thousands with holiday wagon program

Georgeanna Haviland's nonprofit helps those with physical disabilities

Sue Wolfe makes a difference in fight against infant mortality

Joyce Guenther spends her birthdays giving the gift of life

Patti Bernett has led support group at jail for 14 years

Robert Shyrigh cleans his stretch of the world

Injury forces Peter Cline to change directions

Carol Haynes committed to 'putting broken pieces back together'

Death of son led Nicole Gnezda to life of service

Kenny Sipes serving coffee and helping the fight against hunger, human trafficking and more

Flying Horse Farms volunteer Sarah Kersey leads by example

Connie Swackhammer gives second chance to often-overlooked animals in need

Gabe Howard turns his own demons into compassion for the mentally ill

Vanita Nevis' project brings stability to inmates returning to society

Beth Fleshman opens doors and scissors for charity

Ellie Hite eases the worst kind of pain

Andrew Levitt's performances as Nina West have raised nearly $1 million for LGBT community

Talk with ailing brother inspires John Martin's long Special Olympics involvement

The Dispatch Media Group is showcasing Central Ohio residents who quietly work to heal, unite and improve our communities. After receiving nominations, a panel of editors and readers selected 25 people whose extraordinarily selfless acts set them apart in these divisive times.

The Everyday Heroes will be honored at a luncheon at The Boat House Restaurant, 679 W. Spring St., on Sept. 19 from 11:30 am to 1 pm. The program begins promptly at noon.

Individual tickets are $25 and tables of eight are available for $175. Tickets available here now until Sept. 15.

Each honoree will be recognized in a special publication produced by The Columbus Dispatch, ThisWeek Community News and Dispatch Magazines that will arrive with the Sept. 9 issue of the Dispatch.

You can get your tickets here.

Get your tickets to the Everyday Heroes luncheon