Nominations have been edited for length and other considerations.

Lifetime Hero of Character

Dave Belew


Dave has served on many boards and committees that serve the city such as the United Way Campaign, The Butler County Symphony Board and Hamilton City of Character Committee of which he is a founding member to name but a few.Dave has served on many boards and committees that serve the city such as the United Way Campaign, The Butler County Symphony Board and Hamilton City of Character Committee of which he is a founding member to name but a few. As an avid reader himself he is a strong supporter of literacy campaigns in Hamilton and the Butler County Schools. David has been involved with service organizations such as Rotary, The Fitton Center for Creative Arts  and the Community Foundation holding a variety of offices and leadership positions. 

Southeast Indiana

Student Heroes

Adult Heroes

Melissa Frankenberry

High School Sophomore

Nominated by Stephanie Schwing-Stamper

“I have known this young lady since her sixth grade year, and Melissa has always stood out as an upstander. Melissa participates in our CARES program, which stands for Change takes Action, Resources, Empowerment, and Support. She mentors younger students and helps guide our new incoming and transfer students. She volunteers her time to help with our yearbook, managing athletics, and several other clubs and groups. During her middle school years, Melissa often felt that she was an outcast because she never followed the crowd and always stood up against bullying and teasing of underprivileged students. She often became the target of teasing and rude comments because she placed herself between the bully and the victim. Melissa never complained about this; she felt that this was her natural place. During this time, Melissa learned that her mother was diagnosed with leukemia, and she began helping her mother care for her infant brother. Despite Melissa’s struggles with her own familial issues, Melissa continues to support her peers at school, stand for those who cannot stand on their own, guides our new students, and volunteers her time to empower fellow students. Melissa has had a few break downs because of the stress involved with familial concerns, but in front of others, she presents with a smile, joke to cheer someone up, and a shoulder to cry on. For such a young woman, I am inspired daily by Melissa’s character!”

Mary Bailey

Principal, Aurora Middle School

Nominated by Nancy Ray

“Mary’s administrative career started in 2011 when she accepted the position as Assistant Principal at Aurora Elementary School under Principal Eric Lows. When Mr. Lows accepted the role as Administrative Assistant at the SDCSC Central Office in 2013, Mrs. Bailey became the principal. This is Mrs. Bailey’s fifth year as principal at Aurora Elementary School.

Mary is an important member of our community and has contributed in so many ways. As a supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Mary has worked closely with Laura Rolf and Kristi Eberhart. She now has 15 matches in Aurora Elementary.

Mary is quick to recognize special needs and act quickly. She observed a student looking for food in a trash can one day and that prompted her to form a partnership with The Clearinghouse and Purdue Extension. The program started at Aurora Elementary and has extended to Central Elementary (Lawrenceburg) and Moores Hill, Manchester, Dillsboro, South Dearborn Middle School, and South Dearborn High School. Sacks of Snacks helps to assure that all children are provided with a little extra help to those children in need. She has been a board member of The Clearinghouse since 2016 and is currently the Vice-President. 

Mary is also a volunteer for the Toy Coalition which provides Christmas gifts to many of the students.

Mary works closely with Purdue Extension: She and Marcia Purcell have collaborated to offer students a number of programs such as Girls Empowerment (gr 3-5) and Creating Champions (6th grade boys). They have also formed a running club for both girls and boys in grades 3-5. The purpose of these clubs is to discuss & build self-esteem, self-confidence, and healthy habits.


Student Heroes

Adult Heroes

Alyssa Eichelberger

High School Sophomore

Nominated by Christy Jones

“Alyssa Eichelberger is new to the Taylor Girls Golf team this season. In her few short weeks with the team, I learned of her plight to help end DIPG. After hearing her story, I was impressed with her enthusiasm, dedication, and compassion to helping others in need. 

Over the summer, Alyssa Eichelberger, along with the help of her parents Dave and Janice Eichelberger organized a Jr Drag Racing event for the Kylerstrong Foundation. She worked every aspect– asking for sponsors and raffle donations, determining how the race should be run, and having a vision of a T-shirt which included working with the graphic designer to have her input and ideas come to light. Alyssa wanted to utilize her Jr Drag Racing platform to raise awareness for the cause, cure, and prevention of DIPG. She stepped out of her driver’s seat and worked all day to ensure things ran smoothly–walking the lanes, thanking participants for coming and wishing them good luck and safety during the races.

Alyssa set a goal to raise $1,500 to donate to the foundation. At the end of the day, a grand total of $8,212 was raised and donated to Kyler Bradley’s parents and the Kylerstrong Foundation. Rebecca Bradley, Kyler’s mom, wants Alyssa to be at her next check presentation ceremony at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The Bradley’s believe that Alyssa’s voice and heart will help them move forward with the fight to end pediatric brain cancer.”

Cindy Oser

Teacher, Taylor Middle School

Nominated by Lori Reis, Julie Davey, Dave Henderson, Pam Wray, Tricia Brogan

“As a Special Education Teacher at Three Rivers Middle School, 7th and 8th grade, Three Rivers Local School District, she treats everyone with respect. Her students have a wide range of abilities and behaviors. Cindy welcomes each student as an individual and tries to bring them to their best so they will have success in the next phase of their life. She has a reputation for being a great listener without judgment. She understands the many dynamics in their lives in which brings struggle and confusion. Cindy gladly accepts challenges in her classroom and turns them into positives while building up self-esteem. The respect and kindness expectation in her classroom is evident each day. The students know she will have their back when appropriate but holds them accountable for their actions too. She is very fair and honest with them. This goes very far with students because it allows them to feel and develop trust and respect too. The compassion and empathy she demonstrates for the students are remarkable. She will give it her all no matter the background story of the child. It is not only her students that come to her for advice and guidance but adults as well.

Also, Cindy coaches many sports at school. These have included basketball, soccer, and softball (boys and girls). She encourages her players, develops their skills and makes them love what they are doing. She expects sportsmanship and character wherever her athletes go. This year, she has added a part-time Assistant Athletic Director to her many roles. Also, Cindy mentors in various middle school clubs including the National Junior Honor Society and Relay for Life. She is truly dedicated to the many aspects of school life.”


Maria Gates

High School Freshman

Nominated by Pam Wray

“Maria began an after-school group to help students who might feel alone or overwhelmed. She and other members of the group decided to make friendship bracelets for students who they thought would benefit from them. The group gave the bracelets to new students, students who seemed lonely, or other students who the counselors or teachers knew would benefit from them. The group also put motivational sticky notes on every middle school student’s locker and teacher’s door – over 700 notes. In the hall the next day, the group heard kids saying things such as: “Who did this, why are we getting these?” etc. Even the teachers wondered about them and felt better for them. Maria went out of her way to help others. She is trying to continue the group in high school.”

Allison Heisel

Teacher, Taylor High School

Nominated by Sue Diemer

“Allison Heisel is a leader and an advocate for the art programs in the Three Rivers District for the past 22 years. As the art department chair, Allison has built an exceptionally rigorous program in a financially strapped school district. She has been the Three Rivers School District Teacher of the Year, a Japan Fulbright Memorial Teacher Scholarship recipient, and an OAEA conference presenter. She was the drama director for 17 years, continually producing dynamic productions that won local CAPPIE (Southwest Ohio student critique program) awards. Allison received the Theater Director of the Year award for Cincinnati as a result of her commitment to her students. For the past 14 years, she has coordinated a summer art camp for K-6 students, touching over 1,00 students over the course of the program.

In 2015, Allison spearheaded the development of the Three Rivers Acclaim Foundation, an endowment for the arts, supporting advocacy, service-learning, and longevity of the arts in Three Rivers. Almost $200,000 has been raised to date and Allison, as President of the Acclaim Foundation, is the best advocate for all of the Fine Arts of Three Rivers.

Although these examples give a glimpse into the type of person that Allison is, the list truly doesn’t describe the passion and enthusiasm that she brings to the art classroom. From a basic art fundamentals course to the advanced portfolio class, Allison is able to capture each student’s attention and to nurture their creative talents to the very best of their abilities. And isn’t that what teaching is all about…bringing out the best in each child, challenging them to do more than they thought they could do, and cultivating ongoing pride in their work. Allison Heisel exemplifies the very best in high school art teachers and I strongly nominate her for the Hero of Character award. I am a better teacher because I have the privilege of working with Allison Heisel. “

Rob Siegmann

Chief Operating Officer, Total Wealth Planning, LLC

Nominated by Dave Wilder

“Rob started his career with our firm back in the mid 90’s during high school. After high school, he joined full time and has been continuously improving the business ever since. His persistence and grit in making sure he earned his MBA from Xavier during nights and weekends, also in growing our firm’s support infrastructure has allowed our company to hit many milestones including 30 years of serving over current 400 client families and about 100 others who are no longer with us. Rob has been and continues to be quoted in a number of publications including Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, & Kiplingers magazine. He also participated in the Cincy Chamber 2014 C-change class who created a city-wide welcoming project named Grand City Experiment, and also was named a 40 under 40 by Business Courier in 2015.

Rob demonstrates his leadership style of leading by example every day and has been a vital part of building our business to what it is today. “

Hamilton City of Character

Student Heroes

Adult Heroes

Skylar Carlyle

Grade 7

Nominated by Allison Roy

Skylar is a responsible, polite 7th grade honor student who serves Garfield students and staff as an office worker. He respects and accepts all in classroom discussions and through his kind actions every day. Beyond school walls, he uses his natural artistic talent to help others. Recently, he shared his vocal abilities to spread compassion at a benefit hosted by The Center for Family Solutions for families in need. Skylar embodies all five traits to be considered a Hero of Character.

Paul Thoms

Community Volunteer

Nominated by Pat Ganz

“Mr. Thoms is well known throughout the state of Ohio, especially the Butler County area, for his outstanding skills as a music educator, for volunteerism in a variety of community groups and activities and for being the kind of human being many strive to be but never achieve. Paul is a kind man, quick to smile and generous with his time and willingness to offer his many skills and talents in situations where problem-solving and leadership are essential to getting a goal completed.

He has been chosen for inclusion in thirty biographical publications such as Outstanding People of the 20th Century, Who’s Who in the World, Community Leader of the World and America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals. Paul has served on many community boards, among them Historic Hamilton, Fitton Center for Creative Arts, Butler County Board of Mental Health, Butler Co. Career Development Program and Membership Chairman United Way Campaign and Captain for YMCA Membership Campaign – plus 28 other boards and campaigns. In addition, Paul has been a member of 30 professional organizations.
These are some of the highlights of his contributions, a complete list can be provided upon request. Mr. Thoms is one of the most respected men in our community and some of the reasons are listed here, but this doesn’t begin to show the entire portrait of the man. It would hard to imagine a more worthy candidate for this honor.”

Briella Combs

Grade 7

Nominated by Gale Sarant

“Briella shows exemplary character on a daily basis. In addition to being relentlessly kind and benevolent to her classmates, and wavering in her respect to her teachers and administrators, she is often seen interacting with students not in the traditional classrooms, complimenting their work, projects, or just greeting students with an understanding smile. Briella’s warm spirit transcends everywhere she goes. Briella was recently nominated to Student Council at Garfield Middle School! Outside of school, she participates in community activities:
Art in the Park at Jefferson, Briella frequently runs the art table on Movie Night, she is involved with the Giving wish program and the Inclusive Playground for the community, and dear to her heart she spends time introducing her brother to others to help everyone understand what an all-inclusive is.”

Tina Osso

Archivist/Historian and Former Executive Director, Shared Harvest Food Bank

Nominated by Terry Perdue

“In times of adversity, a leader arises as a beacon of light for others to find their way, a voice crying in the wilderness to make the path straight. In the early 1980s, Butler County was in desperate need of a collaborative food distribution network for people living in poverty. Tina answered the call and persevered with a fervent compassion to meet the need. She united the efforts of existing charities, helped build others, and independently procured resources to establish Shared Harvest Foodbank. She formed systems and processes to serve people in a way that preserved their dignity, respecting the unique circumstances that caused them to be in a position of need. She stood fearlessly and spoke honestly against disparate public policy that alienated and ostracized people living in poverty. She told the stories of thousands whose lives hung delicately in the balance, depending on the kindness of strangers to sustain them. She spoke with boldness and truth, illuminating the reality of oppressive views and beliefs to crowds who opposed her. Now, nearly forty years later Tina is retiring. Her identity is so enmeshed in her tireless work, she is unable to distinguish herself from the mission that she pursued for so many years. It is because of Tina’s innate understanding that we are one body, interdependent on one another to function that she has fought so hard, for so long. No one is greater than the other. Tina is the exact embodiment of a Hero of Character and I respectfully request your consideration of my nomination.”

Carol Combs

Student, Miami University Regionals

Nominated by Collette Thompson

“Carol is bringing together her diverse neighborhood through community events like movie nights, art in the park, and holiday celebrations. Prior to her efforts, there were no events like this in her neighborhood.

Carol exudes compassion. She has made a commitment to doing one good deed every day. Whether it is buying a coffee for someone or adding some quarters to a parking meter getting ready to expire, Carol is constantly making the world a better place through these small yet powerful acts.

Carol is constantly working to reinforce all of the values in the neighborhood. She respects people from all walks of life. She is especially connected to the disabilities community and advocates respect and education for those with different abilities.

Carol says her life is an open book. Through her openness and honesty about her life experiences, she creates an atmosphere that allows others to share their struggles.

The events she organizes are held in a new community park that previously experienced high levels of vandalism, drug use, and crime. This area is now a prized possession for all residents to enjoy and celebrate. Every evening Carol walks the park and cleans up any trash left behind. This keeps the park looking welcoming and safe.”