Two of the 10 area leaders recently honored as “Heroes of Character” have Lakota ties. Lakota West sophomore Zach Merrill and Lakota Board of Education member Lynda O’Connor were honored with the group at the sixth annual Heroes of Character event on March 15.
The event is a collaboration between the Hamilton City of Character Committee and the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Both groups promote and encourage good character, strengthen individuals, and help organizations and entire communities create cultures based on modeling and rewarding positive character.
“We are very proud of our two Heroes of Character, as anyone who knows Zach and Lynda are aware of the positive difference they make in the lives of others,” said Robb Vogelmann, Lakota's Acting Superintendent. “They truly embody the spirit of this honor.”
"I am deeply humbled,” said Zach, who is battling cancer. “This has been a long, hard year, and so many other people go through this, and not all of them survive. I am blessed with all of the support from friends, family, and many strangers. Every day that I wake up, I thank God that I am alive. One way that I want to give back is by reaching out to other families that are going through this. Cancer does not affect just one person, it impacts the whole family."
He also noted his appreciation of the West wrestling team. According to Zach’s Dad, Matt, “When we got the initial diagnosis, Zach insisted on telling Coach Bradberry first. I was not with them, but coach came out and told my wife that the team was a family. They have supported us in so many ways. It has been amazing.”
Another Lakota student, Elena Jaeger, a fourth-grader at VanGorden Elementary, was nominated by her teacher and was recognized at the event as a finalist.
According to teacher Julie Mock, “Elena is off to a great start exhibiting so many qualities of character that it’s hard to pick the ones that describe her best. She’s a diligent and responsible student. She’s a dependable friend and loyal daughter and sister. Elena exhibits kindness to others. She displays resilience despite medical setbacks. Elena has a quiet confidence and enthusiasm to be all that she can be.”
"What a delight it is to celebrate these outstanding youth and adult leaders! Their stories of overcoming obstacles, service to the community, and generosity to others give us hope.We honor them for their role as models and leaders of character in the community," said Mary Andres Russell, Character Council Board Member.
Click here for Wayne Baker’s recent story in the Journal-News regarding the Heroes of Character.