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Meet our Everyday Heroes: Recognizing 25 Central Ohio difference-makers

We thank our honorees for making such a significant difference in Central Ohio.

Published Updated

We thank our honorees for making such a significant difference in Central Ohio.

Published Updated

With this new class, we have now recognized 125 Everyday Heroes since we started the program in 2017. That translates to 125 singular stories of people helping to heal, unite and improve our communities—of selfless acts that inspire us to try to do better.

The process of choosing the 2021 group of 25 Everyday Heroes started months ago when we asked for nominations. Plenty of them came in. It’s a difficult task for our judges to narrow the list.

We chose five finalists and 20 semifinalists, who are featured in this special publication, which is created through the combined efforts of The Columbus Dispatch, Dispatch Magazines and ThisWeek Community News.

The Everyday Heroes also will be honored during a television program airing on NBC4 WCMH-TV on Oct. 6 at 12:30 pm. During that show, the overall Everyday Hero will be announced.

We thank our honorees for making such a significant difference in Central Ohio.

Meet the finalists who are making a difference in Central Ohio

Meet the finalists who are making a difference in Central Ohio

Olivia Nathan

Olivia Nathan received a Jefferson Award in 2005 for her work with the hearing impaired.
Olivia Nathan received a Jefferson Award in 2005 for her work with the hearing impaired.
Mike Elicson/For The Columbus Dispatch

Pharmacist Olivia Nathan works to vaccinate communities of color and educate Black women on HIV prevention.


Everyday Heroes: Olivia Nathan helps break down barriers to COVID vaccine
The Columbus Dispatch

Mark Sigrist

Mark Sigrist photographed at the Grove City Buddy Ball Field on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.
Mark Sigrist photographed at the Grove City Buddy Ball Field on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.
Rob Hardin / Columbus Monthly

Mark Sigrist has used his energy and organizational skills to start a 5K for charity and worked to include and boost those with special needs.


Everyday Heroes: Mark Sigrist helps with Buddy Ball, which offers safe place for disabled Ohioans
Doral Chenoweth, The Columbus Dispatch

Ram Upreti

Ram Upreti helps prepare food for guests at the non-profit Vedic Welfare Society in Westerville during a Threading Ceremony. The Vedic Welfare Society is a community and religious center from members in the Bhutanese/Nepali community. (Photo by Tim Johnson)
Ram Upreti helps prepare food for guests at the non-profit Vedic Welfare Society in Westerville during a Threading Ceremony. The Vedic Welfare Society is a... Ram Upreti helps prepare food for guests at the non-profit Vedic Welfare Society in Westerville during a Threading Ceremony. The Vedic Welfare Society is a community and religious center from members in the Bhutanese/Nepali community. (Photo by Tim Johnson)
Tim Johnson/Columbus Monthly

Ram Upreti, who works for Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services, has dedicated himself to helping refugees from his homeland get through the pandemic.


Everyday Heroes: Ram Upreti wants to help immigrants stay informed, connected to Columbus
Doral Chenoweth, The Columbus Dispatch

Dave Baker

Dave Baker shares his story of living with AIDS to help stop the spread of the virus that changed his life.

Dave Baker gives information on using condoms to greatly reduce chances of getting or spreading Aids during one of his events at the Milo Grogan Community Center. Baker is passionate about spreading the word on HIV/Aids causes and prevention in Black neighborhoods.
Dave Baker gives information on using condoms to greatly reduce chances of getting or spreading Aids during one of his events at the Milo Grogan... Dave Baker gives information on using condoms to greatly reduce chances of getting or spreading Aids during one of his events at the Milo Grogan Community Center. Baker is passionate about spreading the word on HIV/Aids causes and prevention in Black neighborhoods.
Tim Johnson/Columbus Monthly

Everyday Heroes: David Baker uses experience to fight HIV, AIDS
Doral Chenoweth, The Columbus Dispatch

Debra McCauley: Feeding the community

Everyday Hero finalist Debra McCauley photographed on Thursday, July 1, 2021.
Everyday Hero finalist Debra McCauley photographed on Thursday, July 1, 2021.
Rob Hardin / Columbus Monthly

Debra McCauley distributes meals to a vulnerable population during the pandemic, even though she’s far from wealthy.


The 20 Semi-finalists

The 20 Semi-finalists

Who's behind this story?

Who's behind this story?

Columbus Site Manager

  • Alan Miller

Publisher/Dispatch Magazines

  • Ray Paprocki

Editor

  • Dave Ghose

Contributing editors

  • Lee Cochran
  • Emma Frankart Henterly
  • Kelly Lecker

Contributing writers

  • Asia Atuah
  • Stephen Borgna
  • Tim Carlin
  • Joe Dandron
  • Grace Deng
  • Jess Deyo
  • Sarah Donaldson
  • Nate Ellis
  • Alan Froman
  • Suzanne Goldsmith
  • Ken Gordon
  • Marla Kuhlman
  • Brittany Moseley
  • David Rees
  • Lily Roby
  • Gary Seman Jr.
  • Sarah Szilagy
  • Tatyana Tandanpolie
  • Erica Thompson
  • Steve Wartenberg
  • Eliana Wright
  • Holly Zachariah

Contributing photographers

  • Adam Cairns
  • Lorrie Cecil
  • Rob Hardin
  • Tim Johnson
  • Kyle Robertson
  • Fred Squillante
  • Dan Trittschuh

Production director

  • Craig Rusnak

Designer

  • Micaela Encinas

Marketing director

  • Eric Wygle
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