December 2007 Issue
There are as many definitions of heroism as there are heroes. But for our purposes here, we believe tennis star Arthur Ashe, who died in 1993, put it best: “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic,” he said. “It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”
That says it well for the six heroic individuals and groups we spotlight this month in our annual “Ohio Heroes” feature. This is the feature’s fourth year, and once again we were amazed and inspired by the depth and breadth of heroism we found across the state.
When we embarked on the effort to identify Ohio heroes in 2004, we wrote that we had an embarrassment of riches. Ohio, we said, is blessed with an abundance of citizens who are dedicated to making their communities better places in which to live. Certainly that assessment remains true today. It was, therefore, a challenge to single out this year’s choices for special recognition. We sought to present a range of heroes representing the best of the Ohio spirit — its compassion, selflessness, neighborliness and imagination.
We believe our choices do just that:
Harvey Harris, of Cincinnati, turned tragedy into a catalyst for action after his wife, Marlene, died of breast cancer. The result of his efforts — so far — is a tally of $132,000 raised to fight the awful disease.
Nordonia High School classmates Darren Rhodes, 16, and Ronald J. Buck, 18, saw an emergency and responded with clear thinking and bravery. Their wrestling teammate, Cornell Carter, was unconscious, his body spinning in the frigid Cuyahoga River, and they rescued him from what appeared to be certain death.
Karoline McMullen, of Munson Township, turned awareness of a problem into action when she learned that chemicals were being dumped into storm sewers that run directly into local streams. Among other things, the 17-year-old environmentalist has helped pass legislation to correct the problem.
The Lunch Bunch, in Columbus, recognized a need and filled it. The group of some 50 retired teachers and other professionals has bestowed more than $60,000 in scholarships to deserving students.
Duane & Kathy Jebbett, Rich & Lynne Zydonik and Todd Olsen, Findlay residents, were struck with compassion and did more than sympathize. Helping one family during Findlay’s floods, they are representative of how the entire community came together as friends.
The Community Food Initiatives program in Athens County is comprised of individuals who felt the pain of neighbors who lacked healthy food and decided it was their job — not a faceless bureaucracy — to ease it. Through the volunteers’ efforts, some 1,800 pounds of food have been donated this year alone to feed hungry people throughout the county.
All these efforts are, as Arthur Ashe put it, “sober and undramatic.” Yet those are often the most heroic efforts of all. We salute these “Ohio Heroes,” and thank them for once again giving us so much to celebrate.