Zerqa Abid named Dispatch Media Group's Everyday Hero for 2019

Suzanne Goldsmith

Zerqa Abid, founder of MY Project USA, was named Dispatch Media Group’s Everyday Hero for 2019 today in a ceremony held at COSI. The award comes with a $10,000 donation to the organization of Abid’s choosing, funded by the Columbus Foundation. Abid’s nonprofit employs Hilltop youth, many of them Somali immigrants, to help them improve their own lives through soccer and community service.

Four finalists for the award received in-kind gifts of advertising services worth $7,500 each from the Columbus Dispatch and its magazines, including Columbus Monthly. All of the finalists received family COSI memberships.

The award is given to “recognize members of the Columbus area whose extraordinarily selfless acts set them apart in these divisive times,” according to a letter to the community from Dispatch Media Group President Bradley M. Harmon and Dispatch Magazines Publisher Ray Paprocki.

“I am humbled and grateful to God, to my family, to my community and to everybody who has been helping me in this journey,” said Abid. “You are all everyday heroes.”

More than 100 Central Ohio residents were nominated, and at the ceremony, 20 finalists and 5 semifinalists were honored prior to the announcement of the award. Semifinalists included a woman who left a life of addiction and prostitution and now helps others change their lives, a man who has been creating events and connections to foster community pride in Milo-Grogan for four decades, and a college student who started a nonprofit to create prosthetic limbs for those in need.

In addition to Abid, the finalists were:

Chrisanne Gordon, a physician and traumatic brain injury survivor who founded an organization that helps veterans struggling with traumatic brain injury.

Austin Hill, a South Side resident who shows compassion and love as he helps people break free from drug addiction.

Tracy Kronk, a school volunteer who created a nonprofit to feed hundreds of kids who do not get enough to eat at home.

Imran Malik, an interfaith leader who works to bring people of all religions together by promoting service and understanding.

Read profiles of all of the finalists and semifinalists here. You can read a profile of Zerqa Abid here.